The Ultimate 32-Point SEO Checklist

Looking to launch a new website? Or updating your existing website’s SEO?

Then this SEO checklist by Tom Donohoe Consulting is for you.

It’s jam-packed with 32 essential items you must check off to make sure your website is optimised for search engines.

It covers the tools you need to use, research and planning for SEO, technical SEO, On-page SEO and off page SEO.

seo checklist infographic

SEO 101: What is SEO

In a world where everyone is searching for information on the internet search engines have become a necessity. Business owners scramble to get found online but not many businesses actually understand how to do it.

Getting found online isn’t as simple as having a website, you need to work to improve its authority on the internet. This is known as the marketing discipline of SEO.

In this blog, I will take you through what is seo and an overview of the tactics and strategies involved.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process on improving the quality and quantity of traffic that you receive from organic results (unpaid) in search engines, such as Google or Bing.

I put emphasis on the process because SEO takes time. It is not a once off effort, it is a continuous effort to improve your rankings. It can often take 6 months to a year to rank on the first page of Google.

This should not deter you from seo though, the value it can provide your business greatly outweighs the effort.

Understanding the search engine results

Often small business owners and many other professionals don’t understand the search engine results page. The results page can be broken down into two sections, paid listings and organic listings. SEO attempts to improve rankings for the organic section.

In the image below, the first two listings are paid ads followed by organic results.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines use very complex algorithms to find and rank websites. But to explain the process is very simple. And as a small business you don’t need to understand the complexities.
Simply, search engines produce results by crawling, indexing and ranking webpages.

It can be broken down into a simple 3 step process:

  1. Crawlers are bots designed to crawl the entire internet finding links and following them.
  2. The indexer will then process the information found by the crawler and builds an index.
  3. Finally, query engine, Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc, will understand a user’s search, then present what it deems most relevant and trustworthy from the index.

SEO Techniques and Tactics Overview

When putting SEO into practice it can split into three categories:

  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO
  • Technical SEO

Each category requires different skill sets but combined ultimately determine your rankings in search engines.

Before we jump into explanations for each I’d like to touch on the fact that search engines are becoming more human-focused year on year. It’s very important to shift our thinking in this same direction when optimising our websites. And consider both the search engine and the user.

On-page optimisation

On-page or on-site optimisation involves implementing strategies on individual web pages to improve their rankings in the search engine result pages.

There are 6 core techniques used in on-page SEO:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • URL
  • Heading and image tags
  • Anchor text
  • Page content

Off-page optimisation

Off-page seo refers to techniques implemented outside of your own web properties to improve your rankings within Google.

The goal of any off-page seo is to increase the relevance and trustworthiness of your website to search engines.

To achieve this you need to build a link portfolio, which means other websites who have developed this trust from search engines linking back to your website.

The best way to accomplish a great link portfolio is to guest blog for other websites. My favourite tool for find these opportunities is Moz Open Site Explorer. Type in your competitor’s URL and you can see who is linking to them. Reach out to this website and ask if you can write a guest blog for them.

Technical SEO

Simply, technical seo is all the changes you make to improve your website’s performance other than the content.

Key technical seo ranking factors include:

  • Site speed
  • Site architecture
  • Sitemaps
  • Schema

I like to think of technical SEO like building a house. You can’t build a house without a strong foundation. Much like you can’t have great rankings without a strong technical SEO setup.
What is SEO? Well, now you know. But while implementing these techniques on your website always remember to think of the user experience before search engines. My favourite SEO quote sums this up:

Google only loves you when everyone else does first.

Unless you’re creating great content and empowering users to have a great experience you won’t receive links. In turn, Google will not love you.