Today, SEO forms an integral part of the digital strategy for a business. Thus, it would be safe to say that your SEO efforts should be ongoing, keeping in mind the latest updates and changes in its landscape. To make sure you don’t miss anything in its extensive gamut, here’s a complete SEO checklist for 2021, including the latest techniques to be adopted this year.
An important part of online business involves not just reaching out to customers but also optimizing the flow of traffic to their websites. Although most tend to use SEO, not many are able to fully harness the power of this tool which can boost growth rates immensely. Whether you’re a newbie techie just dabbling in SEO or a digital marketing agency proficient in its use, everybody can re-acquaint themselves with this comprehensive SEO checklist and update their strategies.
Most of the lists on the Internet are lengthy ones that often chart out 50-70 integral points of using SEO. Oftentimes it’s not practical or desirable to do so. Furthermore, nobody is interested in reading, much less implementing long-winded strategies. Thus, we bring you a simple, comprehensive checklist that covers all the main criteria required for improving your online efficiency.
Your SEO checklist for 2021
Just remember, every little thing counts, so try to accomplish as much as you can from this checklist.
- Basic tools and plugins for your website
Here are some basic tools and plugins you’ll need to install to rank on Google.
- Google Search Console
We don’t realize that the fundamental features of the Google Search Console – a free and powerful tool, are some of the most integral ones. Fixing website errors, receiving messages from the Google team and tracking your site’s performance are vital.
- Bing Webmaster tools
Set up the Bing Webmaster tools. Bing may not be as popular as Google, but it does see a lot of searches, so it’s worth optimizing for it. Also, it offers a built-in keyword research tool that can benefit you.
- Google Analytics
This is one of the most basic features to learn how people find and use your website. It can help you find the pages that can bring you the most traffic and also calculate your average bounce rate, page views and time spent on the website.
Connecting Google Analytics with a Google Search Console is also a great idea since it helps in tracking useful SEO information from inside your Google Analytics account.
WordPress users, this one’s for you. Yoast is the most efficient plugin for WordPress sites. It makes it very easy to optimize for search engines. If you haven’t installed it yet, this one’s a must.
- Keyword research
This is surely one of the most vital features of SEO. It boosts efficiency, productivity and attracts more traffic to your website. To be in the top leagues, it’s always important to get this one right.
Here are a few key tips that help emphasize keyword searches.
- Google suggest
‘Ask Google’ seems to be the motto of today’s world. Well, in order to uncover long-tail keywords, Google is literally the answer. Typing in a keyword, and analyzing the list of suggestions that Google presents is a great way to pick a suitable keyword.
- Keyword research tools
Furthermore, you can utilize tools like KeywordTool.io – this provides keyword suggestions from real user queries and compiles a list for you. The Keyword Planner is another great tool that uses authentic data. Here are a few of the best keyword research tools to plan your website.
- Online communities
Reddit, Quora, Digi forum and other online communities are excellent places to find keywords. If you don’t have the answer, someone out there does and will be ready to help you out.
- Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ boxes
Go through the questions that are being asked in the PAA boxes. These will give you keyword ideas, as well as let you know about the kind of content people are looking for in your industry.
- On-page SEO
It’s important to optimize your content using a handful of tested on-page SEO techniques. Here are some pro-tips that will assist you.
– Include a keyword in your URL
Using a keyword in your URL and keeping the length short can help boost your traffic. Furthermore, your URL is the key to Google understanding what your page is all about.
– Use the keyword in the title tag
It’s no secret that you should use your keyword in your title tag. But not many people know that where you place your keyword matters. Specifically, you want to add your keyword to the front end of your title tag. Also, embedding title tag modifiers will increase your page’s ranking for long-tail keywords.
– Use the keyword in the H1, H2 or H3 tags
Use the keyword in your subheadings if you can. Every little bit helps.
– Use your keyword optimally
The keyword must neither be used very few times or very many times. However, using it in the introductory and conclusive paragraphs is extremely important as Goggle puts immense emphasis on the first and last 150-200 words of your post.
– Optimize images
Use these forms of multimedia in your content:
• Visual Content
• Interactive polls and quizzes
However, in order to help Google translate your images as you want them, it’s important to optimize your image alt tags and provide filenames that briefly describe what the image depicts. Such specificity helps Google fully understand the image.
– Use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords
LSIgraph.com provides a bunch of terms that are associated with your main keyword. Adding a few of these LSI words to your page boosts its readability.
– Incorporate external and internal links
Using external links to trusted websites authenticates your content. Furthermore, linking it to internal pages of your own website or blog adds further traffic to your site.
- Technical SEO
Even if you are technologically challenged, it’s important to keep a tab on the technical aspects. While it’s easy to ignore and pretend that it will take care of itself, weeding out technical glitches goes a long way in boosting efficiency and readability. Here are some pointers:
– Identify crawl errors
Crawl errors refer to the fact that Google is unable to view your page or your site. These can easily be found in the Google Search Console’s ‘Coverage report.’
– View your pages
It’s important to find out how Google views your pages. Using the ‘Inspect URL feature’ on the Search Console will show you if and how Google views your page.
Here’s an alternate way to find out how Google views your pages and to check if your website is SEO friendly.
– Mobile-friendly website
You must ensure that your site is mobile-friendly and can be viewed with ease on smaller devices with limited screen space. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re probably losing out on a vast number of viewers. Google mobile-friendly test is the best tool to give you a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ with regard to this.
Broken links must be fixed ASAP as they can hurt your SEO. The best way to do this is to use a tool called Dr.LinkCheck.com. It’s a free tool that scans your site for broken links.
HTTPs is a confirmed Google ranking signal. Security is quintessential and a priority with Google. If your website is secure, it also means it is authentic and will find a higher rank on Google.
– Loading speed
Slow loading speed is one of the easiest ways for any website to fail. In today’s world, time is of the essence and no one has the patience to wait. PageSpeed Insights lets you know how fast your page loads and what can be done to speed it up.
This section of our SEO checklist for 2021 helps keep tabs on quality content by using simple strategies:
– Use the Skyscraper Technique
This is one of the best tools for publishing rich, valuable content. It helps to almost double your traffic. It follows three steps-
- Identifying popular content in your industry
- Creating something better
- Promoting the content
This may take a little work but it will be worth it.
– Maximize readability
Reading massive chunks of content makes readers more likely to skip to another page. It’s easier to read smaller paragraphs in shorter sentences so it’s best to stick to that. Use transition words to improve the flow, and always, always, use simple, straightforward language.
– Offer in-depth knowledge
Pages that cover in-depth information about any topic have higher rankings as compared to those that merely gloss over details. It’s important to be thorough and comprehensive about any topic that is covered.
– Update old content
Updating and relaunching old information helps the site remain fresh and rich in relevant content.
– Focus on popular content formats
Certain content formats perform better than others. Which ones, you ask? Those that have original and authoritative content. This includes:
- Content written by experts
- Original research (like surveys and industry studies)
- Content that isn’t copied
- Case studies and real-life examples
- Evergreen content (that is relevant over a long period of time)
– Use Schema Markup
Google has announced that Schema can help your rankings. To optimize your website, use the Structured Data Testing Tool to implement Schema more easily.
- Link Building
Link-building is the most important segment of the SEO checklist. Links are the key to getting more hits and although building links isn’t easy, Google confirms that backlinks are one of the top 3 ranking signals. Here are some pointers to help you out:
– Build powerful backlinks with guest posting
Publishing your guest post in respected sites in your industry is a sure-shot way to back your authenticity and direct targeted traffic.
– Reverse your competitor’s backlinks
– Use link roundups
These are simply a monthly, weekly or daily curation of your industry’s best content. Getting your link in a roundup could mean great referral traffic. How you do it? Start by identifying link roundups in your niche. Then reach out to request the inclusion of your linkable asset to the roundup.
– Become a podcast guest
Podcasts are a growing marketing channel, which when properly leveraged, can have a powerful impact on organic search. Actually, you could have your own podcast or be a guest on someone else’s podcast, to get quality links. The website hosting the podcast usually links to its guest’s website from the episode post. On the other hand, the guest, and sometimes, their fans, will link to that episode on the podcast website.
- Mention influencers in your blogs
Make a mention of an influential blogger in your post, and then let that person know about it. Chances are, they will link to your content and share it.
- Advanced SEO tactics
Finally, here are some additional, advanced tips to keep in mind:
- Check your Click Through Rate (CTR)
Research shows that higher-ranking pages have a higher CTR. You can optimize your CTR by using:
– Descriptive URLs
– Schema markup
- Limit website downtime
Your users don’t appreciate your site being down. Neither does Google. In fact, unscheduled outages can mar a website’s reputation. Use tools like Pingdom to keep track of site downtime and help reduce negative backlash when your site is threatening to shut down.
- Remove your website’s “deadweight pages”
An extensive website with many pages can be bad for your SEO, says Google. That’s because most pages are redundant, and don’t serve any purpose. This is your website’s “deadweight” and should be removed immediately.
- Improve your website’s Dwell Time
This is the amount of time from when a user clicks on a search engine result and arrives on a page, till the time he/she leaves it. Dwell Time is a Google ranking factor. The longer the Dwell Time, Google sees this as your website providing users with what they need and gives you brownie points for it. Here’s how you can improve your Dwell Time:
- Tweak your content such that it begins immediately with what’s in store for your audience, then back it up with how it can help them. Next, transition gently into the body of your content.
- Ensure readability of your text by breaking it into bite-sized paragraphs, using simple words, subheadings, bullet points, visuals and helpful screenshots.
- Post longer, quality content which will take your user a while to read.
- Use videos, either to replace text or to complement it.
- Comments on your page engage readers so keep the comments open
- Maximize page speed to ensure people don’t tire of waiting for your page to load, and leave
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile.
We hope our SEO checklist comes in handy when you launch your website or spruce it up. Don’t forget, SEO is made up of several little things that together add more power to your website!
At Them You & Me, we speak friendly digital and assist with the digital transformation of your business. If you’d like to discuss anything on our SEO checklist for 2021 or want help with implementing SEO strategies, give us a call.
To know about what we do and the services we offer, please visit our website.
This article was updated on 16 December 2020.