Basic SEO Checklist

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, is an online traffic process that provides organic visibility to a website. Where and how you rank on search engines are based on individual search engine algorithms, which serve the purpose of matching what a user is looking for with the most relevant content possible. There is no golden formula to rank number one for every search and best practices change over time as search engine algorithms become more complex. The purpose of this checklist is to not describe the current start of SEO and what you should be doing to adapt to it, but to discuss the foundational elements of SEO that throughout the evolution of search engines have remained incredibly important in making sure that your website is ranked and indexed correctly.

Terminology

Sitemap – A list of pages of a website that are accessible to search engine crawlers.

Meta Tag – Special HTML tags that provide information about a web page, but are not visually displayed.

Hyperlink – An HTML element that allows you to navigate another web page with only a click.

H1-H3 Tag – Heading tags used to represent different sections of web content.

Image Tag – An HTML element that defines an image.

Checklist

I. Sitemap (sitemap.xml)

a.Create an XML or Index file

i. Submit to various webmasters (Google, Bing, etc.)

ii. Use one site map for users and one for bots.

II. Meta tags

a. Title Tag

i. Make sure each page title is unique.

ii. No longer than 60-80 characters.

iii. Important keywords at the beginning

b. Description Tag i. Make sure each description is unique.

ii. No longer than 155 characters.

iii. Want to influence click-through rate.

c. Keywords Tag

i. Matt Cutt’s says it does not influence rank.

ii. Doesn’t hurt to use, but don’t stuff the tag.

III. Hyperlinks ()

a. Text Link

i. <a href=”#”>Keyword in Anchor Text</a>

b. NoFollowed Link

i. <a href=”#” rel=”nofollow”>Keyword in Anchor Text</a>

Used for paid links and untrusted content (e.x. comment section content)

IV. H1-H3 HTML heading elements
(Use these heading elements to structure your page like an outline. Heading tags should be used in order from H1-H3.)

a. h1

i. This is the page label.

ii. Use this tag only once for page.

iii. Keep it short and informative.

iv. Try not to replicate your page title.

b. h2

i. Used to denote sections of the page.

ii. Should only really be used 1-3 times to keep page concise.

c. h3

i. Useful link groups to other relevant sources, but keep headings for text content and not to group template navigation.

V. Image tags

a. Alt property

    i. `<img src=”#” alt=”keyword” />`

ii. Avoid using capital letters. Some screen readers may see it as an acronym and spell out the letters individually.

b. Filename

i. Properly name your image files to describe the image.b

For more information on SEO elements and best practices, head to Schema.org.