Disclaimer: All the points mentioned in this SEO checklist have been proved to be effective in my experience. As many factors determine to rank on search engines, a few of these techniques might not bring expected results for you. Send your query. I’d be more than happy to address it.
SEO has changed a lot today. The days of keyword stuffing and reckless link building to get the top ranking are over.
The only thing that is constant in the SEO industry is – you need to adopt the latest SEO techniques to rank higher on search engines.
What are the SEO best practices that you should follow in 2020?
If you don’t know or you want to brush up your SEO knowledge, the help is here.
In today’s post, I’m going to discuss SEO best practices checklist.
After reading this post, you will know SEO best practices that will improve the ranking of your website in 2020.
Without further ado, let’s dive in:
As this is a long post, I have divided the post into different sections and added links to them for easy navigation.
Table of Contents
- On Site SEO Checklist
- SEO Checklist for Technical SEO
- SEO Checklist for Off-page
- SEO Checklist for UI/UX
On Site SEO Checklist
On Site SEO is huge. And you must have heard about Meta tags and keyword density. Our on site SEO checklist is more than a basic SEO checklist.
In fact, it will provide you with practical knowledge that you can use it today to improve the ranking of your website.
This easy-to-follow on site SEO checklist is loaded with SEO best practices that will bring quick results in 2018.
Here are the best on page SEO strategies:
1- Unique Domain Name
You should pick a unique domain name that is easy to remember and easy-to-pronounce. You might be tempted to pick an exact match domain (EMD). But you should not go for it. A partial match domain (PMD) is not only a safe bet but also provides some SEO benefits. Read Neil Patel’s article on how to choose a domain name for maximum SEO benefits.
2- Use Country TLD Extension
If you want your website to rank higher for any particular country, you should opt for a country code top-level domain (.in, .ca, .pt). However, doing so limits your site’s ability to rank globally.
3- Use Keyword in Title Tags
After content, a title tag is the second most important element of a webpage. It tells search engines what the page is about. You should always use keywords in the Title Tags of your web pages.
4- Front Load Title Tags With Keyword
According to Moz data, web pages having Title Tags starting with keywords perform better than those with keywords at the end of Title Tags. My friend, make sure that you front-load Title tags with important keywords.
5- Use Keywords in Meta Descriptions
Make sure you use important keywords in Meta descriptions. Doing so will help Google know what the pages are about. Also, you should not forget to add a call-to-action (CTA) to the Meta descriptions of your website.
6- Use Keyword h1 Tag
After a Title tag, h1 tag plays an important role in sending relevancy signals to search engines. According to a study, using a keyword in h1 tag offers some SEO benefit. So never forget to use a keyword in h1 tag.
7- Keyword Density Still Matters
No matter what people say, keyword density still matters. But not as much as it used to be. You should include the main keyword and other key phrases in a natural manner in your content.
8- Use LSI Keywords in Content
According to a study, long tail keywords not only increased website traffic but also converted 2.5 times better than head terms. So, my friend, start using LSI keywords in your content. Check my post- How to Find Long Tail Keywords (Step-By-Step Guide) for more details about long tail keywords.
9- Remove Duplicate Content
If your website pages have similar content, this is not good for ranking. You should remove duplicate content. Google has explained the issue of duplicate content at length.
10- Create SEO-friendly URL structures
According to Search Engine Journal, excessively long URLs may affect search engine visibility. URL path also matters – a page close to a homepage may get some boost in search engine ranking. So make sure your website has SEO-friendly URL structures.
11- Optimize Images
On site SEO checklist cannot be completed without image optimization. Not only should you optimize the size of your images but also optimize Metadata. Make sure file name, alt text, title, description, and caption all are optimized to maximize SEO benefit.
12- Update Content Frequently
Google always looks for fresh content that meets searchers’ queries. By updating content frequently, you will add a freshness factor to it, improving the chance to rank higher. Therefore, make a habit to update frequently the content on your website.
13- Use Keyword in the First Paragraph
Having the main keyword in the first 100 words is a strong relevancy signal. So you should try to make sure that you use the main keyword in the first paragraph.
14- Do Proper Internal Linking
According to Yoast, “By adding the right internal links you make sure Google understands the relevancey of pages, the relationship between pages and the value of pages.”
My friend, your website must have proper internal linking.
15- Quality Internal Links Pointing to a Page
Make sure your important pages are interlinked with high authority pages on your website.
16- Have High-Authority Outbound Links
Linking out high-authority websites sends trust signals to search engine, thereby helping a web page rank better.
17- Check Grammar and Spelling Errors
Nobody likes reading anything written poorly, nor does Google. Check Grammar and spelling errors on your web pages carefully.
18- Readability of Content
You should write in simple, plain English. Why? Increasing readability of your content widens the reach. More people will be able to connect with your content.
19- Have Main Content Above the Fold
Google’s main objective is to provide search results that meet the searchers’ queries. The Page Layout Algorithm penalizes websites that don’t have much content above the fold.
20- Write Powerful Headlines
Copyblogger says, 8 out of 10 people read headlines and only 2 read the rest copy. Needless to say, headlines play a vital role in the success of your content. Craft irresistible headlines that readers can’t ignore.
21- Use Bullets and Numbered Lists
Mobile searches are more than desktop searches, meaning people are using their mobile phones to access the web. And nobody likes to scroll down long articles on a mobile phone. By using bullets and numbers, you break up your content for readers, making it more user-friendly.
22- Frequently Update Your Blog
It has been proven in many studies that frequently updating website blog brings in more visitors. According to Hubspot, “Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.”
23- Use Video Content
People like to watch videos. Youtube has become the second search engine. My friend, you cannot ignore video content. Jodi Harris has written a great article on how to create video content that brings results.
24- Have a Complete ‘Contact Us’ Page
Google prefer the websites that have proper contact information. So you should make sure that your website has a complete ‘contact us’ page.
25- Server Location
Server location might influence your ranking in different geographical reasons, especially for geo-specific searches. Choosing server in the country where you are going to focus your business doesn’t make much difference on your pocket.
26- SSL Certificate
Security is a top priority for Google, and Google has made HTPPS a ranking signal. Make sure your website has SSL certificate.
27- Social Sharing Buttons
The last but not the least in on site SEO checklist, you should include social sharing buttons to make it easy for readers to share your content.
SEO Checklist for Technical SEO
According to Neil Patel, “Technical SEO just refers to any SEO work that is done aside from the content. Essentially, it’s laying a strong foundation to give your content the best chance it can have to rank for relevant keywords and phrases.”
Like many other SEO strategies, technical SEO has changed a lot. Our technical SEO best practices will keep you updated on what brings the top results.
Let’s discuss SEO checklist for Technical SEO in 2020.
28- Submit Sitemap to Search Engines
A Sitemap makes it easy for search engines to index the pages of your website. Make sure you have submitted the sitemap of your website to search engines.
You should create robot.txt file following search engines’ guidelines. Here is Google’s document on robot.txt file. It is advisable that you should go through it.
30- Use Sitemap Priority Tags
If you want search engines to give priority to a few pages on your website, you should properly use sitemap priority tags. To get more information about sitemap priority tags, you should visit this sitemap.org’s page.
31- Check Indexing of Your Pages
For maximum benefits, you should get all of your website pages indexed. But sometimes, Google removes web pages from Google index. You should keep checking indexing of your web pages.
32- Check Crawlability
Site structure, internal link structure, looped redirects, unsupported scripts sometimes affect crawlability. So you should keep checking crawlability from time to time.
33- Improve PageSpeed
As mentioned earlier, mobile searches are more than desktop searches now. And Google has started considering mobile first indexing and taking into account pagespeed as a ranking factor since July 2019. You should improve pagespeed of your website.
34- Don’t Forget to Use Canonical Links
If used properly, canonical links can solve the duplicate content issue. Yoast has published a long guide on the topic.
35- Use Proper Redirects
Redirects are used to send search engines and users to different URLs from the ones they requested. When you are redirecting one URL to another, you should follow the best redirect practices to retain SEO value.
36- Use Structured Data
Search engines work hard to decipher the content of a page. By using structured data, you will provide search engine explicit clues about the meaning of the content.
37- Don’t Use Flash On Your Website
As all search engines are not able to crawl and index flash (and the ones that do often do it with error), you should avoid using flash on your website. SEJ has explained 5 reasons why you should not use flash.
38- Accelerated Mobile Pages Can Improve Ranking
Though Google has repeatedly said that accelerate mobile pages are not a ranking factor, we can understand that having AMPs can improve ranking. How? AMPs improve pagespeed. And Google will start considering pagespeed as a mobile ranking factor.
39- Optimize for Voice Search
With the exponential growth of mobile searches, the trend of voice search is catching up very fast. You should make sure that your website is optimized for voice search. I have written a detailed guide to optimizing for Google voice search.
40- Remove Site’s Downtime
You should make sure that your site has minimum downtime because lots of downtime from server issues may affect your ranking. If you don’t fix it, your site might be deindexed.
41- Use Geo-Targeting
You should consider Geo-targeting if you want to promote your business in a specific country. Google might give a little preference to websites that have local server IP and country-specific name.
42- Remove All Technical Errors
Coming to the end of SEO checklist for technical SEO, your website should be free from every technical error. Even a small technical error can have a serious implication.
SEO Checklist for Off-Page
Off page SEO are techniques that are executed outside the website to improve the search visibility of a website. You must understand that off site SEO is not just about building links. Off page activities go deeper than that.
Following are the important pointers for off page SEO checklist in 2020.
43- Earn Backlinks from Aged Domains
Needless to say, backlinks from aged domains have more value than backlinks from newer domains. So keep trying to acquire backlinks from aged domains.
44- Earn Backlinks from Different Root Domains
One of the most important ranking factors is to get backlinks from different root domains. According to a Moz study, “The number of linking root domains correlates well with rankings.”
45- .edu and .gov Links
As Google values high-authority links, many SEO experts believe that .edu and .gov links have a special place in Google algorithm. And there is a valid reason behind it.
46- Earn Links from High Authority Domains
Earning links from high authority websites play an important role in ranking. So try to get backlinks from high authority websites.
47- Audit Your Backlink Profile
To ensure everything is abided by Google’s Guidelines for backlink scheme. And you should disavow bad backlinks that you find in these audits.
48- Avoid Getting Backlinks from Bad Websites
Links from bad, spammy websites will downgrade your website’s authority, thereby resulting in lower ranking on Google.
49- Diversify Your Backlink Profile
If your website has a big percentage of links that come from a single source (blog comments or forum profiles), Google can consider it a sign of webspam and may penalize your website. Therefore, you should diversify your backlink profile.
50- Have Proper Backlink Anchor
You should have proper anchor texts of your backlinks, explaining clearly what readers will get if they click on a backlink. Having confusing anchor to make it a clickbait might affect your website adversely.
51- Check Internal Link Anchor
According to Brain Dean, “Internal link anchor text is another relevancy signal, although probably weighed differently than backlink anchor text.” Make sure you have interlinked web pages properly.
52- Eliminate Poison Anchor Text
Pharmacy keywords, lottery, free win are often signs of spam or a hacked site. So backlinks with poison anchor text can hurt your website’s ranking. Make sure you disavow backlinks with poison anchor text.
53- Avoid Reciprocal Links
An important point in SEO checklist for off page SEO in 2020!
According to Google Link Schemes, “excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking should be avoided.”
54- Try to Earn Backlink from Long Content
Ask anyone about the best link building strategy and you will get the same answer – earning backlinks. It has been observed in many studies that long form, editorial content is one of the best tools to earn backlinks.
55- Avoid Backlinks from Poorly Written Content
Acquiring backlinks from poorly written content adversely affect the ranking of a website. You should always try to avoid geting backlinks from thin, spammy content.
56- Build Broken Links
Never ignore broken links as having them sends a sign of a neglected website. You should audit your backlink profile from time to time to find and build broken links.
57- Get Reviews on High Authority Website
More positive reviews build the authority of your website on search engines, thereby improving the chance of getting a higher ranking. So persuade your users to write reviews on high-authority websites, such as Yelp, Better Business Bureau, etc.
58- Aim for Link Earning
Instead of making link building your primary link building strategy, you should aim for creating resources and earning links.
59- Ensure Backlinks Relevancy
You should make sure that the content you’re acquiring backlinks from is relevant to your business. Getting backlinks from irrelevant content might adversely affect your ranking on search engines.
60- Comments on Leading Blogs and Forums
Commenting on leading blogs and forums not only provides you with the tons of referral traffic but also gives you some PR value. However, you should always leave insightful comments, or else Google might punish you considering it a webspam practice.
61- Create a Detailed Infographic for Link Earning
A detailed infographic is one of the best ways to earn backlinks. So include it in your off page SEO activities.
62- Check Your Competitors’ Backlink Profile
If you want to outgrow your competitors, you should audit your competitors’ backlink profiles. This will help you plan an aggressive backlink building strategy to beat your competitors.
63- Use Social Media Ads
The reach of organic social media sucks. Rarely, you can achieve your business objective through organic promotion. From time to time, you should employ paid social media ads to boost reach.
64- Use PPC Campaigns
To provide the much-needed initial boost to your content, you should run PPC campaigns.
65- Use Google Keyword Planner
Google keyword planner will help you find untapped opportunities. Always, create off page optimization content after doing proper keyword research.
66- Make a Kickass Outreach Strategy
To maximize the success of your off page content, you need to get your content promoted by your audience and influencers in your niche. To do so, you need to make a kickass outreach strategy.
67- Do Guest Posting
This is another important point in SEO checklist for off page SEO in 2020. You should write guest posts for leading websites in your business domain. However, Google discourages guest posting campaigns and large-scale article marketing with keyword-rich anchor text links.
68- Be Active on Quora
This question and answer community has around 190 million unique visitors as of April 2017. This means you have a great potential to build your brand here. By being active on Quora, you can know what you should create that your audience would love to read. Also, Quora can provide you with the tons of referral traffic.
SEO Checklist for UI/UX
The simple, good, old days of SEO are now over – you stuff a web page with keywords, build links, and you are there. Now, it takes hundreds of factors to rank on search engines.
UI/UX is now included in the best SEO practices.
Here is an SEO checklist that you should follow in 2020 to get better search results.
69- Have Responsive Website Design
You will never know on which device your audience is accessing the web. Therefore, you should have a responsive website design to reap the maximum benefits.
70- Use font of at least 14 pixels
Mobile searches are more than desktop searches. So, my friend, font size matters. You should use the font of at least 14 pixels.
71- Use Font Color That Complements Your Theme
To offer high-quality user experience, you should make sure that font color complements your website theme.
72- Enough WhiteSpace Between Headings and Paragraphs
White space not only makes your website pleasing but also makes content easy to skim. Make sure there is enough whitespace between headings and paragraphs.
73- Use Large Size Touch Elements
If you use small size touch elements, users might click on the wrong buttons. Therefore, you should use large size touch elements.
74- Have Graphic-rich Content
To increase dwell time on your website and avoid pogo sticking, you should have graphic-rich content on your website.
75- Avoid Interstitials
According to Google,
“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
Avoid using interstitials if you want to dominate mobile searches.
76- Use a Distinct Color for Links
To make your website more user-friendly, you should use a distinct color for links so that users can easily understand where links are.
77- A Line Should not be More Than 65 Characters
As a big percentage of people read on mobile devices. It is better not to write more than 65 characters in a line.
Thanks for reading so far. We have come to the end of the post. But wait!
Here are some bonus points that can help you rank better on search engines.
78- Ask People to Contribute to Your Blog
Asking industry experts and influencers to write on your blog. This will increase the traffic on your blog. Influencers and industry experts tend to have a big list of followers, so you will see a traffic boost when they will share their guest posts published on your blog.
79- Do Google Maps Marketing
As Google Maps results also appear in search results, you cannot ignore Google Maps Marketing if you want to outgrow your competitors. It is the best tool to target locals.
80- Do local SEO
81- Optimize for ‘Near Me’ Searches
With the growth of mobile searches, more and more people are now conducting ‘keywords+near me’ searches. Therefore, you should optimize your business for keywords+near me searches.
82- Avoid Temporary Link Scheme
Adopting a temporary link building scheme will do more harm than any good to your website, so you should avoid it. Here are Google’s Guidelines for Link Schemes.
83- Never Ignore Google Webmaster Messages
Google Webmaster messages often provide you with early warnings of what went wrong with your website. Therefore, you should never ignore Google Webmaster messages.
84- Never Have Ads Above The Fold
Having ads above the fold can get your website penalized under Page Layout Algorithm. So you should avoid it.
85- Never Hide Affiliate Links
You should never hide affiliate links. According to Brain Dean, “Google’s algorithm may pay closer attention to other quality signals to make sure you’re not a “thin affiliate site”.
86- Get Brand Mentions on News Sites
Getting brand mentions on news sites not only helps in PR but also helps in building a reputation on search engines. So never ignore any opportunity to get brand mentions on news sites.
87- Create official LinkedIn Company Page
Most real businesses have LinkedIn company pages. So having an officiant LinkedIn company page will be beneficial.
88- Incorporate User-Generated Content
People trust user-generated content, so does Google. Incorporating user-generated in your SEO and content marketing strategies will yield better results.
89- Avoid Excessive 301 redirects
Links coming from 301 redirects dilute some page rank value. So you should avoid excessive 301 redirects.
90- Use Google Analytics
Any SEO checklist 2020 will not be complete without emphasizing the importance of using Google Analytics. You will get tons of intelligent insights to optimize your SEO campaigns for better results.
91- Have a Human Editor on Your Blog
Having editors can help. Though never confirmed, Google filed a patent for system and method for supporting editorial opinion in the ranking of search results.
92- Promote Your Content Aggressively
Needless to say, how good your content is, it will not bring you maximum results unless you promote your content aggressively. I believe you should focus 50% of your efforts on content creation and 50% on content promotion.
93- Use Skyscraper Technique
Use Skyscraper technique to maximize the success of your content. Brian Dean was able to boost his site traffic by 110% in just 14 days with this technique.
94- Do Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a great way to amplify the reach of your content. When an influencer shares your content, not only more people will see your content but more people will also trust your content.
SEO keeps on changing at a rapid pace. If you want to outrank your competitors, you should follow the best SEO practices in 2020. If you follow this SEO checklist, I’m certain that you will get higher search results.
What about you? Do you want to add any other point to this SEO checklist? Do share it in the comment section. I would love to know about it.