fbpx Skip to main content

SEO Roadmap & Checklist

Are you new to SEO optimization or already have some experience but looking for a step-by-step SEO guide? Then be sure to read on. Thanks to this guide, you can avoid common mistakes that can cause difficulties in website promotion. So be sure to use this step-by-step list of SEO things to consider when creating or optimizing websites.

The 6 SEO main categories

Strategy & Pre-launch

These are the standard elements that you need to get right before starting the rest. (8 steps)

Keyword Research & Implementation

What are your customers searching for? How high is the competition? What opportunities are still here?<br>
(3 steps)

On-page optimization

What changes can we make on the website itself to rank better in Google? (25 steps)

Off-page optimization

What can we do that relates to our website but is externally impacted? (9 steps)

Social media graph

What effects does social media have on your ranking? (4 steps)

Additional learning resources

Some sources approved by the Are team.

Strategy & pre-launch

Install Google Analytics (GA) and set up goals

You can use one web counter, but it is better to set up several to verify certain results. Here you can check how to use
Google Analytics
install. You can also use alternative web counters such as Yahoo Web Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Piwik.

Add the website in Google Search Console

What is Google Search Console? It is a program where, among other things, you can check the visibility of your website in Google search results. But so much more: it also helps you regarding malware etc.

Google Search Console can be accessed through this link. Here you can simply sign in with a Google Account after which you have to verify your website.

By the way, Bing Webmaster Tools has a lot of useful features you can use to resolve error messages.

Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console

In Google Analytics go to: Acquisition > Search Console > Searches and then follow the tips.

Connecting the two services will help you get more accurate statistics of all organic traffic on your website including search queries.

Add your website or business to Google Maps if your target audience is local

If you have a local business then you can add it in
Google Places for Business.
This helps visitors in a region find useful information. It is better to add your website in one category, but not in several at the same time. It’s a good way to offer special deals to people who come across you in Google Maps.

Also be sure to check out our wiki on how to get found better locally

Register your domain several years in advance

Valuable (legitimate) domains are usually paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains are rarely used for more than 1 year. Therefore, the date a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor to predict the legitimacy of a domain.

PS: Remember that the age/age of domains also play an important role in ranking within search engines.

Create a robots.txt file and save it to the root of your domain

If you want to give access to index the entire site then you can use the line ‘User-agent: *’. If you want search engines not to index certain files you can add the line ‘Disallow: (followed by the URL you want to block). To test a website’s robots.txt file in Google Search Console, click Crawling and then robots.txt tester.

Create a robot.txt file in 3 steps

Create an XML Sitemap and save it in the root of your domain

It is better to create a sitemap because Google cannot always find all the pages on your website itself. An XML sitemap can solve this problem. If you have more than 10,000 page, you should sort all content into multiple sitemaps.

Now how do I create an XML sitemap myself?

HTTPS : Secure your website

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. That is, HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP. The extra S at the end stands for “secured. You can also see this when a website has a green lock icon.

10 steps to switch to SSL security

Keyword research & implementation

Select the right Keyword Strategy

The dilemma is simple enough: set long-term goals and aim for highly competitive keywords or pursue long tail keywords for which you can get acceptable rankings in the near future.

In both cases, search volume and amount of competition are very important factors as you, build your semantic core.

Analyze your competitors' keywords

Add a few keywords to your list based on your competition. You can analyze your competitors with different tools to find the best keywords and phrases for PPC use. Check out the following tools Semrush, Google Keyword Tool.

Make a final list of keywords you want to focus on

When choosing keywords, make a list of these keywords in your industry and note how much traffic each keyword can drive to your website. Divide the keywords into groups based on the pages for which they will be used.

Yes, each page of your website should have a unique set of its own keywords that do not overlap with the keywords of other pages (and, of course, not duplicate them).

On-page optimization

Logical site architecture/structure

A hierarchy is nothing more than a way to organize your information – something that is simple and makes sense. Your hierarchy will also become your navigation and URL structure, so everything important starts here.

Write unique titles for each page of your website

A few tips for creating page titles:

  • Try to choose a unique title for each page.
  • Include a keyword in your title and keep it to 70 characters for each title because search engines only show the first 70 characters.
  • Use no more than 2 relevant keywords per title.
  • Try to create a short and informative title.
  • Try to avoid keywords such as “free” and “cheap” as this can look like spam.
  • Avoid duplicate/duplicate titles.
  • You can use a brand name in your title, but it is not necessary to use it on every page, as this reduces user perception.

Create a unique meta descriptor for each page

A few tips for creating the right meta description:

  • Create unique meta descriptions of about 320 character because Google only shows the first 320 characters of a meta description.
  • Include a keyword in the meta description. Avoid excess use of keywords.
  • All meta descriptions should be informative and indicate the main idea of the page.
  • Meta descriptions should be written primarily for people and not for search engines.
  • Use a brand name in your description, but not in all of them. Try to avoid keywords such as ‘free’ and ‘cheap’

In Google Search Console > Search Formatting > HTML enhancements > duplicate descriptions in “meta” tags you can check all meta descriptions and duplicate content.

Build SEO friendly URLs

How to create SEO friendly URLs:

  • Use target keywords in your URL because search engines rank such files higher.
  • Make every effort to keep your URL short and without meaningless characters such as%34@!$$%;
  • Use hyphens for your URLs. Do not use a dash.
  • Use as few directories as possible in your URL. For example, use are-agency.be/map1/searchword-research instead of are-agency.be /map1/submap1/searchword-research

Use Canonical URLs, avoid duplicate pages from the index

To make URLs more effective, it is advisable to use Canonical URLs for your page. Use Canonical attribute (rel=”canonical”) for your content.

Optimize H titles (Heading tags)

A few tips on optimizing a Header tag:

  • If you have many titles, use the header tags h2-h6
  • The best combination will be the use of h1-h3. You don’t have to use additional titles.
  • Do not use H tags with other tags such as “strong” or “em”.
  • Do not use a header tag in your images as this will be considered spam.

What are heading tags?

Use Alt Tags for your images

A few tips on how to optimize Alt Tags for your website:

  • Alt Tags can improve your usability and availability. Image search can be used to generate traffic to your website.
  • Alt Tags within images are more important than the title tag to an image for search engines.
  • Try to describe your images with no more than 5 words
  • Use one keyword in Alt images and avoid stuffing them full of keywords.

Monitor and remove / nofollow and broken links

The reasons for broken links:

  • 404 error when entering a domain name
  • A download link you display doesn’t work (anymore)
  • An article you referenced has been removed
  • A website or blog is closed or no longer works

Fix non-functioning links

Use no more than 100 outbound links per page

When Google spots a page with more than 100 external links per page, not only the page but the entire website is likely to be flagged.

This used to be used in typical directory websites to generate lots of inbound links quickly.

Sensible and SEO friendly Inner Cross Linking

How to create a correct internal website link :

  • Create a sitemap in html format that helps search engines index your website and helps users find the right article or information.
  • Place backlinks in articles on your website.
  • Make sure internal links in your article point to other articles on your website. Try to include no more than 5-10 backlinks in each article.
  • Place backlinks in your images. This works well, but it must be done correctly.
  • Create a sidebar on each page of the website with the recent articles. Remember to block this section from indexing to avoid duplicate content.

Use 301 redirects

301 redirection is a status code that says a page has been permanently moved to another location. You can create it directly in the .htaccess file with these instructions.

Check the validity of web documents in HTML

You can check the defined HTML syntax and detect certain conflicts. It will help you display your website correctly in different browsers, increase your page speed and affect your ranking in search engine results. You can check the validity of your website’s HTML markup with the online tool validator.w3.org.

Analyze the content in your industry

  • Analyze news and events in your industry
  • Do deep research on your product & service
  • Do some interviews and target audience research
  • To increase the relevance of your website, there are several ways to create content that can attract more customers to your website:
  1. Do an interview with well-known experts in your industry;
  2. List tips, ratings, etc. For example, “5 ways to…,” “The 10 best…,” “Top 6…”
  3. Create polls and elections
  4. Create a few educational components, e.g., glossaries, reports, guidelines, tips, checklists, etc.
  5. Update your articles regularly, reread old articles and add something new. Analyze what topics you should cover in order for articles to be referenced. Search engines, and Google in particular, love fresh and new ideas.
  6. Write reviews of popular products, services, books and things that people search for the most on search engines.
  7. Compare popular products, services, etc.
  8. Be the first to inquire about new events within your industry.
  9. Use sayings and quotes from famous people in your industry.
  10. Make some predictions and look ahead to results.
  11. Share real-life stories and experiences.
  12. Use humor in your articles because the simplest and funniest things can go viral on the Internet and attract more traffic.
  13. Organize interesting and useful contests.
  14. If you have an online shop, try to publish a price list because people need to know your prices and compare where to buy, what to buy and how much to buy.

A few tips on writing content:

  • Your article should have at least 400 words of unique content, but it is better to use more than 400 words. Find the golden mean: not too short and not too long.
  • In the article, use your target keywords and search phrases that look natural and are useful for your website.
  • Do not use duplicate or rewritten content. All articles, titles, meta descriptions and headers should be unique. Check your articles for plagiarism with Copyscape.

Optimize your content

When you write content then you can use the following tips:

  • Write only unique content. Avoid duplicate content. All pages should have unique content.
  • Check your website content for plagiarism. You can use the Copyscape tool for this.
  • Avoid grammatical and spelling errors, this will cause errors in your search results. This can cause lower quality scores.
  • Keep keyword density between 3-5% in an article. Avoid excess keywords, as you may receive penalties from Google for this.
  • Use interlinking with your target anchor on the left. Keep in mind content can have a negative impact on your website through over-optimization.
  • Do not use ad bots that shut down main content as this is irritating to users. This method of promotion can cause a downward trend in user experience and website ranking.

Create a blog on your website

Some tips on maintaining a blog:

  • Try to create good and useful material and update your blog regularly.
  • Optimize your articles for a blog and share them via social networks (Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.).
  • Create informative, quality and fresh articles with well-chosen keywords.
  • If you have an Ecommerce website, you can write not only about your products, services and industry but also about things closely related to your products that can attract users.

How do I start a successful blog?

Create infographics, videos, webinars, PDF documents.

Using video is an excellent way to promote your website in search engines.

What you need to know:

  • Use keywords in the titles and video descriptions.
  • Create backlinks in your video with your anchor texts. It is better to use 50% exact and mixed keywords and 50% keywords with your brand name, domain name or natural phrases such as “click here”, “link here” etc.
  • Write 10 characters for the video descriptions with your keywords.

=> Need someone to work all your content into designs? Take a look at Simba

Invite famous guest writers to write an article for your blog

If you want to find a good copywriter then it is important to check their recent articles, social accounts etc. Specify deadlines, make a list of ideas you want to see in the article linking to good sources, and keep the option open to edit the article (again) in the future.

Avoid 404 errors

A 404-error page is a page that website visitors arrive at in the event of an error. They may have typed something wrong in the URL, they may want to visit a page that doesn’t exist… This page lets them know they’re wrong. It helps tell them what to do or what caused them to end up on that page.

I have a 404 error, now what?

Make sure your website is responsive

Search engine robots cannot find your website (including its mobile version) if you block access to it. Therefore, you can decide whether or not to allow search engine robots to access the mobile version of your website. If you decide to allow access, use the rule: User-Agent “Googlebot-Mobile.”

Improve website speed

There are several tools to measure the speed of your website. Google has a handy tool, namely “PageSpeed Insights” or
Pingdom speed test
. This tool analyzes your website and also gives you tips on how to improve loading speed. Furthermore, the tool also analyzes how fast your website loads on smartphones or tablets.

If the loading speed of your website is not optimal, you need to improve it. Here are some tips to ensure that your website does not become too slow.

How do I improve my website speed?

Off-page optimization

Analyze the quality and quantity of current backlinks on your website

A few helpful tips about backlinks

  • Analyze how natural and unique your backlinks are;
  • Check all the anchors pointing to your website and how effective they are;
  • Check any errors that may be in your backlinks, look for any broken links, 404 errors, etc.
  • Find out which web pages are visited most and least. Think about how to improve these pages.

Analyze backlinks from your competitors

You can check your competitors’ backlinks with the following tools:Majesctic SEO, Ahrefs, Opensiteexplorer.

Constantly check the quality of your backlinks

A few tips on how to get good backlinks:

  • Check each page and source, Google PR, a number of backlinks for each page, geographic location.
  • Use your keywords in the anchor text that will help search engines determine the relevance of your backlinks.
  • Try to get do-follow backlinks that are indexed by search engines, as they give considerable weight to the web page. And if you have a blog site and a few articles with links pointing to reliable sources, you have to give these links the nofollow tag and Google will then ignore these kinds of backlinks.

Communicate with other websites that have similar topics

What should you pay attention to?

  • Be creative and clever to write quality articles with infographics, videos, images, etc. Google loves such articles that can affect your keyword position in search engine results.
  • Use only unique and new material
  • Publish your articles on quality and reliable websites with high web traffic and authority.
  • Try to keep a balance and post between 2 and 5 articles per week. You should not post 10 to 20 articles a week because Google will see that you are using guest writers as a way to get backlinks.
  • Write for people first: determine your target audience and find out what they really want and what their frequently asked questions are. The best way to find out is to read forums and blogs that can give a good idea to write useful articles.
  • Place anchor text where it is really necessary to provide additional information.
  • Use real stories and humor that can grab people’s attention.

What to avoid:

  • Avoid guest posts as the main method of website promotion.
  • Avoid writing overly optimized articles.
  • Avoid posting your articles on low quality, non-current websites.
  • Avoid duplicate and reworked content.
  • Avoid lots of backlinks in your articles for link building.

Discuss current questions on forums and blogs

There is no need to register on these forums and immediately post your links in the first comment. You may be banned and the link will have no benefit because it will be removed. If you post a link on forums, make sure it is definitely a do-follow link. Really good is to create your own forum and in it actively participate in discussions yourself.

As for blogs, only read current and articles of interest to you where you can actually post comments with your link that will help people find additional information, where you can refute the author’s opinion or give advice about something.

Post comments on blogs with good authority and traffic because these blogs will give significant results. Try to choose do-follow blogs, but you can alternate them with no-follow blogs, of course, if a blog site is really worthwhile. You should keep in mind that most of the comments are moderated and therefore you should give more extensive and good comments and not just “Thanks for your article” or “It is a very informative article” because you can also just like or tweet the article and the author will also know that you like his or her article.

Don’t spam or post comments on non-current websites or low-quality sites just to get more backlinks to your website. If you have a lot of spam links, you can certainly expect penalties from Google.

Answer the questions in your field

It is important to be active and answer questions regularly in Yahoo Answers, Google Answers, Answer Bag. Try to post broad and useful answers. If you want to give more information you can add a link in the answer. Avoid spam and don’t post your links everywhere. Add links where they are relevant, and support the answer.

Write reviews about your product, website, service

Write a detailed review so people can see all the benefits of your product, name a few key features that set you apart from your competitors. Make it attractive, try to avoid terminology: some people don’t know it, which can cause difficulties. If you do decide to use terms, try to clarify them.
Reviews should be clear, understandable and well-constructed. You don’t have to write only about the features that competitors also have. Be creative!

Website promotion with images and videos

Just like images, you can publish videos, experts’ opinions, interviews with famous people, product reviews on YouTube, Dailymotion, MetaCafe , Google Videos etc.

  • Make interesting and useful videos, use some humor and do not use too much text in videos.
  • Don’t forget to mention your brand/name.
  • Don’t make your videos too long, make sure this is short and clear(This depends on the topic).
  • Call your users to action.
  • Create audience-oriented videos and take their needs into account.

Use press releases

What to avoid:

  • Don’t spam
  • Avoid the keyword stuffing in your articles
  • Don’t publish your press releases on low-quality websites.
  • Do not publish duplicate articles or press releases.

What you need to pay attention to:

  • Write informative and helpful material that challenges or interests users to request more information from your product , company, etc.
  • Use 2-3 keywords in your press releases.
  • Write unique press releases.
  • Describe your contact information and website address as easily as possible so customers can always find you.
  • All press releases are written in the third person.
  • Publish your press releases on quality websites with high PR value and high traffic.
  • Use multimedia files as examples, videos images etc.
  • Use subtitles, highlight important information in bold or italic.
  • At the beginning of your press releases you should, include your logo so that it is easily recognized as your company.

Social Media Signals

Learn the social signals of your industry

To start, check your competitors’ social accounts and analyze what they share, what kind of articles they post, how many tweets, likes they have and what social networks they use. If you analyze these things, you can discover where you need to pay more attention in your social accounts and what methods to use for your website. Remember: there are almost no businesses in the world that would not benefit from improved social visibility.

Add social media buttons to your website

You can do this manually or by using one of the many social media buttons plugins available in almost all CMS: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Blogger and the like. Encourage your users to follow you and don’t make it difficult causing people to miss social buttons. Stop losing a significant portion of your potential and socially active audience.

Be careful what you share

To get more people to your social pages, you can create changes on the following items:

  • Share only interesting, helpful and new content always in house style.
  • Share videos, infographics, statistics, tables and other multimedia;
  • Start some contests, polls, events and webinars that generate interaction with your fans.
  • Make interviews with famous people in your field.
  • Analyze audience activity and check what they need, FAQ, give them helpful tips.
  • Actively participate in discussions, ask people about their opinions on the products or etc.
  • Try to get real Facebook likes, followers and Tweets. Do not use bots or services for this purpose.

Use social bookmarking to get occasional links

Although this method is dated, many webmasters still use this as an easy way for getting some no-follow backlinks, a ranking factor of being named. In general, search engines love social bookmarking websites and they crawl them regularly. So if you have updates and news on your website, you can add your news in social bookmarking websites.