Website visibility has become more and more important over the past few years. After all, being in a crowd of many, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out without some help. That’s why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become more of a mandatory marketing strategy than just optional as it used to be.
Whether you’re working on your own website or on someone else’s, you must determine which SEO strategies to implement and how to optimize the pages so that you can boost not just visibility but also awareness, exposure, credibility and authority, among other things.
What’s more, while planning the tactics and improvements for a new page or an existing one, small details can be overlooked and those small details can have a major negative impact on a website’s organic search.
That’s why a universal SEO QA checklist is of the utmost importance to have so that you can avoid common mistakes. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to create such a checklist for your website.
What is an SEO QA checklist?
Simply put, it’s a document that outlines the best SEO practices when it comes to optimizing websites and individual web pages. As mentioned before, whether you’re working on a new site or you’re improving an existing one, it becomes easy to overlook something. For instance, you’ve just launched a new page but you forgot to remove the no-index tag so search engine crawlers will simply ignore it.
What a time to do an epic facepalm, isn’t it? However, these things do happen very often and it’s not a big deal. That’s why you create a checklist so that you don’t forget anything important. In other words, a checklist will serve as a guide or as a list of all the things that need to be done so that a page or a site can be well-optimized.
SEO Checklist #1 – URLs
A URL (Unified Resource Locator) is basically a web address for your pages. It has to be SEO-friendly so that both users and search engines can understand where the link will lead them to. For instance, here’s an example of an SEO-friendly URL: https://www.yourwebsite.com/categories/resources/topic as opposed to an unfriendly URL: https://www.yourwebsite.com/Hj8t90Cl#. That said, your checklist for URLs should include the following.
- URLs are all lowercase and separated by hyphens (-).
- URLs have relevant and short content.
- Properly redirecting URLs with and without the www. (World Wide Web extension).
- URLs without the / at the end are redirecting to URLs with the/ at the end, as well as vice versa.
- Ensure that http and https are used properly (Hypertext Transfer Protocol vs. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).
SEO Checklist #2 – Page Content
Page content should be one of the most important aspects of your checklist. The main reason is that content, alongside top-quality links, share the first place as the most important ranking factors, according to Google.
Oftentimes, companies engage in off-page activities in the local market so that they can get a solid foothold there before expanding their SEO strategy further. Your off-page SEO checklist will be slightly different for the local market.
So if you operate in Dallas for example, you’d best consult with an agency that specializes in Dallas SEO. That way, you can modify your checklist accordingly. That’ said, here are a few things that should be on your checklist for page content.
- Check all backlinks to determine they’re all functioning and directing to corresponding pages. This is especially important for industry-related link building practices.
- Ensure that all the content on pages doesn’t have grammatical errors.
- Make sure that social sharing buttons are working properly.
Media on Pages
- Ensure that all images have Alt attributes.
- Ensure that file names describe what the media is about.
- Ensure that text content doesn’t render as images.
SEO Checklist #3 – Page Source
Technical aspects and optimization are very important for individual pages. This will help search engine crawlers to properly index your pages, as well as understand both the context and the content on your pages. Here’s what should be on your checklist regarding page source.
- Meta Content – Title tags, Meta descriptions, open graph tags (if applicable).
- Robots Control – Dofollow and Nofollow for indexing content.
- Canonical Tag – Full URL of the page in lower case.
- H1 Tag – Only one H1 tag per page.
- Analytics – Make sure that all of the tracking codes and analytics are precise and in accordance with the rest of the site.
SEO checklist #4 – Technical SEO
Website functionality is very important for SEO. That said, website functionality and performance plays a vital role in customer experience and that experience is a major ranking factor. Therefore, including technical SEO into your QA checklist is of vital importance.
The main reason is that any modification to the website, such as adding new images, adding more content pages, changing the design etc. can hinder its performance. Whoever made the modifications must check the performance afterwards. Without further ado, let’s proceed to technical SEO factors.
- Crawl errors – Crawl errors occur when adding new pages to your website. In such cases, search engines won’t be able to crawl those pages and they won’t be able to rank them either. Therefore, check for these errors when adding new pages so that you don’t miss out on any ranking factors.
- Mobile-friendliness – For some time now, search engines, such as Google have implemented the so-called Mobile-first indexing factor to their algorithm. In other words, websites that aren’t mobile-friendly won’t rank well. You can easily check if your website is mobile-friendly with the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. The best way to ensure mobile-friendliness is to implement a responsive design.
- Security – Another factor that Google takes into consideration is whether or not websites have HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). Security is an important ranking factor and if your website doesn’t have HTTPS, you should consider implementing it straight away. That way you can protect your consumers and Google also considers security a part of their overall experience on your website.
- Page speed – Page loading time and overall website speed are ranking factors that also factor into customer experience. As mentioned before, adding images, pages, content etc. can hinder website performance or slow it down. Checking page loading time must be on your checklist at all times.
Once again, Google can help out in this matter. You can use their Page Speed Insights tool to see how fast your pages are loading and if they’re up to the standards. This tool will also recommend actions to improve page speed (optimize images, minify code, reformat and resize images etc.)
SEO checklist #5 – Content
Wait, we covered page content didn’t we? Yes, we did but we didn’t cover the importance of creating and publishing top-quality content and why that matters for any SEO strategy, which is next on the checklist.
As mentioned before, content is the number one ranking factor, alongside backlinks, of course. But just any content won’t do. In fact, your content must have top quality and it must be highly relevant to your consumers. Therefore, here are a few things you must do to create and publish such content.
- Create original content.
- Chunk your content for maximum readability.
- Cover topics in-depth.
- Use Schema Markup to help search engines understand your content.
- Use different content formats, such as articles, case studies and evergreen content.
- Use multimedia in content, such as images, videos, infographics etc.
Engaging in SEO practices is vital for websites nowadays. However, you have to do everything right so that you can expect viable results. That’s what the checklist is for, to help remind you of what you have to do so that you don’t leave anything out, as well as avoid any unnecessary mistakes.
About the Author!
Jacob Wilson is a business consultant, and an organizational psychologist, based in Brisbane. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Bizzmark blog.