Onboarding a new SEO client and looking for an SEO checklist? Here’s your 1:1 actionplan that will make your life as an SEO Expert much easier.
This plan is split up into three parts. First parts covers the overview of the site, second part covers the technical errors and the third part is the SEO optimization. Lets get into it!
1) Check Google Search Console for Errors
In Google Search Console you have an overview of your Google search traffic, your website crawl errors and optimization suggestions. You will need to check the following:
- Coverage -> Make you sure the website has 0 errors here. Valid with warnings are fine, but should be fixed in the long run.
- Speed -> Website should only have fast URLs (We’ll get into that later)
- Mobile Usability -> Make sure there’s 0 errors here
- Manual actions -> This is where your manual penalties in Google will show up. Examples: Flagged for link manipulation & schema penalty.
- Security issues -> Make sure there’s no errors here
- Links -> Top linking text -> Make sure there’s no weird keywords here, and if there are save them for later…
2) Check the google index for indexed pages
Here’s a classic. Indexed test-pages and dev. sites. These will most likely create either duplicate content or thin content pages. We don’t want these in our index so let’s find them and remove them!
- Search for non-https pages: site:krisholten.com -inurl:https
- Search for test pages: site:krisholten.com “test” (change test into dev. etc)
- Search for duplicate content by searching for “some specific text on the website”
3) Crawl website for internal & external 404 errors
It’s time to crawl the website for errors. With this specific crawl we’re looking for internal and external 404 errors. I recommend using Screaming Frog but you can also use ahrefs built-in crawler.
4) Crawl for redirect chains
This is a very important part that most SEOs miss. Redirect chains slow down the page and your users experience a lot. Use the same crawlers Screaming Frog & ahrefs to check for redirect chains. A redirect chains is an internal (or external) link that links to one thing and gets redirected to another.
5) Crawl for duplicate Page Titles & Descriptions
Use a crawler to crawl for duplicate pages titles or descriptions. Rewrite them, or delete the pages and 301-redirect them to a relevant page.
6) Check for inbound broken links
This is another great way to get some new power to the site. Go into ahrefs, use the site explorer to look for backlinks -> broken. This will show you a list of inbound links that goes to broken 404 pages. You can do two things with these:
- Contact owners and ask them to change the links (the link will not lose power from this)
- If you’re afraid to lose the link 301-redirect it to another relevant page (The link will lose some power from this)
7) Check Google PageSpeed
John Mueller from Google confirmed in January 2020 that PageSpeed is one of the most effective ranking factors. I recommend that your Google PageSpeed is above 80 on mobile.
Low mobile speed may be killing your traffic: https://searchengineland.com/low-mobile-page-speed-scores-may-be-killing-your-traffic-319946
8) Check Current Rankings
It’s great to have an overview of your clients general rankings. Take a look in ahrefs, set up a rank tracker and get an overview of the specific keyword traffic in Google Search Console.
9) Check Schema Markup
Schema Markup has no effect on your rankings but it can provide a much higher CTR in Google resulting in more traffic. Check the source code for Schema Markup or use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Most used structured datas are the aggregate rating and product markups.
10) Create Keyword Analysis
Finally we’re ready to start the SEO optimization process. The keyword analysis is an in-depth analysis of what keywords that will be relevant for your client to rank for. I use tools such as ahrefs, the Google SERP & SEMRush for this.
11) Optimize & Produce New Content
Now that the keyword analysis is done it’s time to optimize current content and create new content. I recommend using SEO agencies to create some killer content using TF:IDF. You can use SEO Content Hero and add Surfer SEO analysis to your content. Content is KING – right? 😉
12) Write new Meta titles & descriptions
Now that your content is ready to go live you might as well optimize the page titles and descriptions. Here’s a few recommendations:
- Limit to 55 characters
- Always start with your keyword
- Add one related keyword or semantic keyword if possible
- Add a number (2020, 20% off or whatever fits)
- Limit to 155 characters
- Always start with your keyword
- Fill in as many related keywords as possible while still keeping the description natural
13) Optional: Create a disavow file
Have the client been fooling around with their SEO purchasing a lot of cheap PBN links? Have they been a victim of a good negative SEO attack? Then create a disavow file.
14) Optimize Images
Optimizing images is one of the easiest ways to increase your PageSpeed. If you’re using WordPress and have tons of images you can use a plugin for this, but I recommend doing it manually here: https://tinypng.com/ or https://tinyjpg.com/. You should also remove any copyright data from images.
15) Optimize PageSpeed
For WordPress use WP Rocket for optimizing your speed. Remember to set it up correctly. I can do this for you for a fixed fee of $300 and it will in 9 out of 10 cases make you hit 80/100 in PageSpeed score.
If you’re not using WordPress you need to to it manually. This is a pain in the ass, but feel free to contact me at email@example.com and i’ll see what I can do.
16) Implement alt-tags
Alt-tags is a great way to tell the search engine what your images are about. Make sure they’re natural and most of them have your keyword. I’ve never seen an increase in rankings doing this – but it’s a very simple implementation.
17) Implement Schema Markup
Structured Data or Schema Markup is a must have in 2020. Implement the most common data and get yourself a higher CTR in Google. You can find all the markup at Schema.org.
18) Internal link building
This is the third most important thing after content and PageSpeed. Your internal link building has amazing effect on your rankings and here’s how I recommend doing them:
- Make sure all pages has at least one internal link to guide the crawler around your website
- Internal links should be straight on the keyword. If I am linking to my on-page content guide I link directly on the keyword and not an entire sentence
- Make sure they open in the same window
- Make sure colors are different colors on your website and has an hover effect (Google DOES care about this)
- 1-2 internal links per page (once every 3-500 words)
19) Check Direct & Close competitors and duplicate links
This is the easiest way to get a fundation of links. Check your competitor in your favorite backlink tool and duplicate as many links as you can. Directories, blog comments, guest posts, niche edits etc. If you have the same links as your competitor but better content you will slowly overtake them.
20) Start link building
For the final step I present: My favorite part of SEO. Link building is by far the largest and most important factor for ranking high in Google. In 2020 I recommend as mix of the following links:
- Guest Posts
- Niche Edits (Link injection)
- Very few guest posts
You should also aim for these stats:
- 60% of your entire linkprofile should go to your frontpage
- 30% to specific landingpages
- 10% should go to blogposts with internal links to your most important pages
Anchor text distribution:
- Links to the frontpage should be this: brand, brand.com, www.brand.com
- Links to specific landingpages should be: keyword, semantic keyword, click here, watch more, read more.
- Links to blogposts should be the blog post title or related keyword in phrase match.
end notes: I hope this actionplan is useable. If you have any questions or need my help feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org