Improving your organic traffic can be a tireless and thankless job for many, making continual attempts to improve their standing in search engine results pages (SERPs) without ever seeing much improvement. Fortunately, there are now many options to assist you in your SEO goals.
Consider the list of 41 best practices from Semrush. The checklist is broken into SEO basics, keyword research, technical SEO, on-page SEO, content, and off-page SEO.
The checklist is a good starting point for everybody from SEO beginners to even seasoned professionals. Review the checklist to give yourself a good idea of how you might be able to improve your SEO performance.
Let us review what Semrush has to offer:
You can best prepare your website by beginning with a solid SEO foundation. Do this by:
- Setting up Google Search Console (GSC) and Bing Webmaster Tools
- Setting up Google Analytics
- Installing and configuring your SEO plugins
After that, you will want to generate and submit a sitemap and then create a robots.txt file. The goal will be to check that your SEO tools are configured each time you start a new website, move to a new project, or onboard a new client.
You must then plan for routine maintenance. This means that occasionally but especially when you are working on a new project or after any significant changes, you should check GSC for manual actions and ensure Google is capable of indexing your website.
You can also detect crawling and indexing errors with Semrush’s Site Audit Tool.
Do Your Keyword Research
Keyword research is essential for any successful organic SEO strategy. When you get your keywords right, you will be set for success when you try to execute campaigns.
Targeting the right keywords is not just a matter of increased traffic. It will also ensure that you are connecting with the right users at the right time, meaning that traffic is of better quality and will be more likely to convert.
You should create and tweak your keyword strategy frequently by identifying your competitors, finding your main keywords, and finding long-tail keyword variations that can help you capture high-conversion traffic. Consider using Semrush’s Keyword Overview tool & Keyword Magic tool.
You will be able to run competitor analysis using the Domain Overview tool. Identify direct competitors in your space and see what keywords they are focusing on.
After identifying the keywords you want to target, analyze your website and pages to make sure there are no gaps in your content. You also need to ensure that your pages serve the needs of the users who are searching for your target keywords.
After establishing your keywords, refine your strategy by creating a keyword map, analyzing the intent of pages that rank, identifying questions that are being asked, and understanding how difficult it is to rank for your target keywords.
Technical SEO can be an area in which a checklist will be particularly helpful. Technical errors are extremely common, and it will be good to check in on how your website functions regularly, especially following any changes you make.
With technical SEO, your goal will be to ensure that search engines are able to crawl and index your website. You also want to ensure that your website works well for your users and you are satisfying Google’s user experience (UX) goals.
You can do this by:
- Making sure you are using HTTPS
- Checking for duplicate versions of your site in Google’s index
- Finding and fixing any crawl errors
The first two bullets here are simple checks that every website should implement. Every website should use HTTPS encryption, and Google should only be crawling one version of your domain.
Google Search Console will make it simple to find crawl errors through the Coverage report. You should be able to:
- Improve your website speed
- Fix all of your broken internal and outbound links
- Find and fix your HTTP links on HTTPS pages
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
- Use an SEO-friendly URL structure
- Check the page depth of your website
Long loading times, broken links, static layouts, and confusing navigation can all be factors in poor user experience. Search engines will often take all these factors into account, but more importantly, the poor user experience will put roadblocks in front of users.
You will want to make it simple for Google to crawl your website. Structured data will help your pages stand out in the results, and they also provide users with immediate value while they are searching.
Your focus should be on page depth. When it comes to page depth, your pages should not be more than three clicks deep.
You will want to evaluate your redirects regularly. Redirect errors may cause several issues for visitors and search engine crawlers, so try to:
- Add structured data
- Check for any temporary 302 redirects
- Find and fix your redirect chains and loops
The old saying in SEO is that “content is king,” but the phrase is somewhat misleading because not all content is equal. You cannot simply just keep adding content to your website and expecting SEO results unless your content is actually adding real value.
You need to ensure that the content you are creating is actually effective because lackluster content can have a harmful effect. Your competitors will see any weak content of yours and use it as an opportunity to create content that is more beneficial.
So take the time to create the right content and then optimize it with SEO in mind. You should:
- Find and fix any duplicate, missing, and truncated title tags
- Find and fix any duplicate and missing meta descriptions
- Find and fix any multiple H1 tags
- Improve your title tags, meta tags, and page content
Title tags, meta descriptions, and heading tags need to be specific and unique. You want to tell search engines and users what your pages are about and what they offer clearly and succinctly.
You have more than enough competition, so do not make your webpages compete with one another by having duplicate elements. Use Google Search Console to identify keyword opportunities on pages that you may have missed, and focus on queries and topics that you can provide value for.
Use your keyword analysis, your research about your audience, and the questions they ask to make your content match user needs and intent as closely as possible. Ask yourself what value your pages offer and how effectively they communicate that value.
Your on-page SEO and content will go hand in hand. A content plan needs to be bigger than just individual pages.
You will need to remove any existing content that is not performing well. When you are checking your content, make sure you are also considering how each page interacts with other pages on your website and whether they fit well.
This means you should run a content audit and prune (reduce) your content. Trimming ineffective content can be vital to SEO success.
Duplicate content, thin content, or content that does not provide value for a reader is the kind of content that you do not need. Consider using Semrush’s Content Audit tool to discover the pages you should think about updating or deleting.
When you know which pieces of content are actually propelling your site forward, your next step will be to:
- Ensure all images are using alt tags
- Improve your internal linking
- Find and fix your keyword cannibalization issues
- Find and fix your orphaned site pages
- Ensure your website’s content is as up-to-date as possible
Regularly evaluate your internal linking to make sure everything has a home. Also, look back at your content as you create new pages to make sure they are not in competition for keywords and your information is up-to-date.
Eventually, you will have to look beyond your website. Just like your pages will have a place within your website’s structure, your website also has a place on the web.
Acquiring links can be one of the most difficult parts of SEO. This checklist will give you a place to start.
Begin by analyzing your competitor’s backlink profiles. You can do this by:
- Analyzing your competitors’ link profiles
- Conducting a link intersect analysis
The Semrush Backlink Analytics tool can be a tool that helps you analyze your competitors’ inbound links as well as the outbound links of relevant websites. This will give you a baseline to build your plan.
- Turn your unlinked mentions into links
- Find any new link-building opportunities
- Set up and then optimize your Google Business Profile
Semrush will also provide other tools that can make discovering new linking opportunities easier. The Brand Monitoring tool and the Link Building tool can easily identify some good targets for link-building campaigns.
On its own, the Semrush checklist is a fantastic reminder tool. You will want to keep it on hand and try to use it regularly.
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