SEO Checklist: Increase Your Organic Traffic

 

 

In this Article,  I’m going to show you a detailed SEO checklist that will assist you in growing your websites organic traffic fast.  The challenge for any business is to make sure that when people look for a product or service like yours, they find you and not a competitor.

I have prepared this SEO checklist which will help you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche, which will help ensure that when potential consumers search for the product or service you sell, they find you and not a competitor,

 

As I’m sure you know, there are numerous categories in Search Engine Optimisation:

  • keyword research
  • on-page SEO
  • technical SEO
  • link building
  • and more.

So rather than trying to tackle all of them at once, this SEO checklist is going to help you stay

  • organised,
  • optimised,
  • and sane.

 

The First category of our SEO checklist:

The Basic Setup

BASIC SETUP FOR SEO

Create A Sitemap

A great way to start is to create a sitemap.  Sitemaps helpfully tell Google where to find important content on your site, so they can easily crawl and index your pages.  My websites are run on WordPress which is created automatically with the Yoast SEO plugin.  Now, if you don’t use WordPress, or prefer not to use Yoast, there are a ton of free sitemap generators, which you can find  all over the web.

Check For Is A Robots.txt File

So now we need to check for a robots.txt file.  A robots.txt file cleverly gives instructions to Google and search engines on where they can and cannot go on your site.  There will be certain pages or directories that you do not want Google to crawl, so you need to add that to your robots.txt file.

Setup Google Analytics

Next task, is to setup Google Analytics.  Google Analytics gives you really important data on how your visitors interact with your website.  Analysing the time on page and bounce rates gives you an idea of user experience and engagement.

Setup Google Search Console

The last thing you need to do is setup Google Search Console.  This Console is great and a real must-have tool.   It allows you to track performance in search queries and enables you to view the keywords that you’re ranking for.

 Keyword Research

keyword research

 

While there are a variety of ways to approach researching specific keywords, there are certain fundamentals that every page should follow:

Find A Primary Keyword Target

Every blog post or page created should have one main primary keyword target.  To find the primary keyword that is ‘right’ for you, you’ll need a keyword research tool.  I use Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, this shows me the keyword difficult score, the search volume as well as various other metrics on the the top 10 ranking pages for that particular keyword.

Assess Search Intent

When we talk about Search intent we are talking about the reason behind the searcher’s query.  Google is really good at helping you assess these reasons, you can search for the primary keyword phrase you want to rank for in the search engine, then review the top ranking results.

To assess search intent, you’ll want to review the various types of pages that are ranking and the format they’re using.   As you can see below, the pages that are ranking for the keyword, “SEO checklist,” are blog posts.   As for format, they seem to be checklist posts and tutorials.  This we know from the titles.

search intent

Now, if you were to create a product page selling an SEO checklist, then you probably won’t rank because you won’t be matching search intent.

search intent that does not rank in google

 

Once you have search intent down, you’ll want to look at related queries to your topic.

Look At Related Queries To Your Topic

So you’ve carefully considered your primary keyword, now you should look at related queries.  You can do this by looking at Google’s autocomplete.  Its as easy as typing your primary keyword in Google’s search bar and taking note of all other relevant search queries.

 

Google's autocomplete

 

You can also look in the ‘people also ask’ box in the search results as well as the related searches at the bottom of the page.

 

people also ask google search

 

 

related google searches at the bottom of the page

 

In the example above, queries and questions related to the side effects of apple cider vinegar show up in both places, so these keyword would definitely be something we would want to consider including in our post.

google search query

 

You can check the Search suggestions and Questions report in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to find even more useful related queries and what questions people are asking in relation to your primary keyword.  These two reports, will provide you with over 20,000 keyword ideas along with keyword metrics.  Great, now if you’ve covered all these points you should have a really strong idea of what information you need to include in your content and what questions you should address.

Relevant Keywords and Subtopics For Your Post

One of the main ingredients to ranking high for numerous keywords are links.  But just as important is engaging content.  Fortunately, you can find subtopics to cover by looking at the keywords that the top ranking pages are already ranking for, then make sure you cover those points on your page.

Top Ranking pages study

To do this, go to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and enter your primary keyword target.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

 

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer search

Now, scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll see the top 10 ranking pages. The main column you want to look at here is keywords.

top 10 ranking pages in Ahrefs Tool

This one seems to be getting a lot of search traffic, they rank for a ton of keywords, and the page is relevant to the created.

Let’s click on the number under the Organic Keywords column to see which keywords they rank for. To keep things super-relevant, let’s set a position filter to only show keywords that rank in positions 1 through 5.

 

Some interesting subtopics to cover here might be the benefits of apple cider vinegar.  We might want to talk about organic vs. non-organic products and at the bottom you will see an attribute, “with mother,” which is a health term often used with apple cider vinegar.

Now include some of these terms in your content, use other parts as subtopics and do your best to cover the various topics using data.

Assess Your Chances Of Ranking In Google

The last thing on the keyword research and analysis side is to assess your chances of ranking in Google.  In order to understand your chances of ranking, you need to consider the SEO metrics of the top-ranking pages.  If you don’t,  you’ll just be guessing.   As a very general estimate, you can use the Keyword difficulty scores in Keywords Explorer to get a very rough sense of how difficult it will be to rank that keyword, but its not recommend to rely on it alone.

keyword difficulty score

keyword difficulty from ahrefs keyword explorer

On-Page SEO

on page seo

Lets move on to the next section which is all about on-page SEO.

Short & Descriptive URL

My advice is to use short, yet descriptive URLs.  Ahref’s studied 2 million keywords and found that pages with shorter URLs rank better than those with longer URLs.  Now, while there’s a clear correlation, it doesn’t mean causation.

characters in URL

A simple yet successful way to choose your URL is to set it as your primary keyword target.   For example, a blog post on  SEO tips, could be domain.com/seo-tips/.

 

blog title main keyword

 

seo tips

It’s short, and anyone can tell from the URL what the topic is on.

Compelling Title Tag and Meta Description

Next, ensure you have a captivating title tag and meta description.  Ahref data shows that exact-match keywords in the title and description do not correlate with ranking position so you do not necessarily have to include your target keyword in your title and meta description.

Should you use your keyword in your title and description?

The most important thing about the title of your page is that it entices someone to click on it.   After all, that’s what we are aiming for, clicks translate into traffic.   If you are only including your keyword into the title because you have to and it doesn’t add any value to the user then I really wouldn’t worry about it too much.  So the answer to the question, you should sometimes include the keyword in your title.

Add Relevant Internal and External Resources

Now we can add relevant internal and external resources.  An Ahrefs SEO correlation study shows that web pages that link out to high‐DR external resources rank higher than those that don’t.

Ahrefs SEO correlation study, found web pages that link out to high‐DR external resources rank higher in Google

 

You should also consider adding internal links from relevant pages to your new post.

A quick way to find these relevant pages is to go to Google and search for something like site:yourdomain.com and then add a keyword related to the topic of your new post.  You’ll then be able to view all posts from your domain that include your keyword.  Visit these pages, and add internal links to relevant anchors texts.

Google and search for something like site yourdomain

By pairing the search results with Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar you can identify relevant pages that will likely have the greatest impact on your new post by reviewing the URL rating.  The higher the number, the more ‘authoritative’ the page so when you do this correctly you can pass link equity to your new page and possibly increase the speed in which Google discovers the new page.

 

ahrefs seo tool bar

 

Content Creation

Content Creation

 

Producing content about a topic with high search traffic potential and doing some basic on‐page SEO is really important, but your time will be wasted if your content isn’t engaging, attractive and readable.  There are a few things to consider when creating your content.  Your introduction needs to be engaging, hook your readers with an interesting paragraph that lets them know they are in the right place and that your article/page will answer their question and solve the reason for the being there.  If your introduction fails to do this then you’ve lost your readers.

Write an Engaging Introduction

  • Start with something that resonates with the reader
  • Build Trust and Credibility
  • Promise a solution to the user’s problem.

Focus On Readability

Your article needs to be readable, there are two areas you need to focus on:

Visual Comprehension

When a reader lands on your page the first thing they’re going to process is how your page looks.   If they land on a big wall of text in 10pt font, they’ll likely get overwhelmed and leave pretty quickly.  Ensure your content is broken down into short sentences and short paragraphs, include images to separate paragraphs. But please don’t just throw in stock photos for the sake of faking visual appeal,  put some effort into creating or finding images that will enhance the reader’s experience.  I often use graphs, charts, or screenshots that help illustrate a point or lighten the read.  These tips will help increase your chances of turning visitors into readers so ensure your page is visually attractive.

Reading comprehension

According to a study, 50% of the US population reads below an 8th-grader level.  Which means that if you’re writing at a higher level, you’re alienating half the population as well as non-native speakers.

There’s a free tool called Hemingway Editor. You can paste your content into the editor and it will provide you a readability score.  If you’re the type to write academically and struggle to lower your readability score, a great tip you can use is to write as you speak.

 

 

Ensure Your Content Solves The Reason For The Searcher’s Query

Great content is content that solve a user’s problem. If you have a post on productivity tips, try and go beyond things like:

  1. Sleep less
  2. Hustle

Someone searching for productivity tips probably wants practical and actionable information they can try right away.  They want to know how they can measure whether their productivity levels are increasing.  If your content solves their original problem and answers the questions that might come to mind as they’re reading, then you probably have some decent content. And if it doesn’t, you might need to re-hit the drawing board.

 

Link Building

Link Building

 

When it comes to building links, you’ll need to gear yourself up to do some email outreach.  Now, this makes the majority of us uncomfortable but remember outreach isn’t about begging for links – A link represents something, somebody finds important, something somebody else wants to share.  A link makes sure we let others know about something useful.

There are a few strategies you can use to share your valuable and useful content:

  • Find Potential link prospects who are linking to your competitors pages
  • Expand your list of link prospects using Content Explorer
  • Write engaging Guest Posts
  • Skyscraper Technique
  • Broken Link Building

Find Link Prospects Who Are Linking To Competitors Pages

Websites linking to similar pages are most likely the ones that will provide you with the most relevant link as they’ve already linked to a competing article on the same topic.  The easiest way to find these people is to go to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and enter your primary keyword.

 

 

 

By scrolling to the bottom of the page, you will see the top 10 ranking pages along with their SEO metrics.  The parts we want to pay attention to are the backlinks and referring domains columns.

 

 

If there are a decent number of referring domains, meaning, unique websites linking to the page, then click on the number in the backlinks column to find out who’s linking to them. You can now skim through the Backlinks report and look for relevant potential links.

 

 

Expand Your List Of Link Prospects Using Content Explorer

After you’ve reviewed your list, expand your list of link prospects using Content Explorer.  Content Explorer has a database of over a billion pages along with their social and SEO metrics. You can start by entering your primary keyword.

 

 

You will also need to set the search type to a title search since a significant number of people include their primary keyword in their title.

 

 

Next, set a referring domains filter to only show pages that have at least 20 links from unique websites.  Then navigate through the pages and if anything pops out to you, click on the referring domains number to see if the websites linking to the page are worth investigating further.

 

 

If they are, then you can click on them, open the backlinks report, and add relevant prospects to your outreach list.

 

 

 

Guest Posting

Another  link building tactic that works well is guest posting.  Guest posting is the practice of submitting an article to another person’s blog in order to build relationships, exposure, authority, and links.  For a full tutorial on Guest posting check out our blog here.

Skyscraper Technique

Simply put the skyscraper technique is an approach where you find the best content relating to your topic and then produce a better version which makes your article the best in your niche.  Why do this?  To get backlinks…

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is a strategy that involves finding resources in your specialist area that are no longer live, recreating a version of the original content and then contacting the webmaster who linked to that content requesting the broken link be replaced with a link to your  content.  This not only helps you build links it also helps the webmaster clean up their website and the web in general.

Technical SEO

 

Having a solid SEO checklist you can use over and over again for each new page you create is really helpful and should be part of your SEO strategy. But as you create more pages, there’ll likely be additional technical SEO issues that go unnoticed.

Run A Crawl Using An SEO Audit Tool

So I want to focus more on the domain level here to find and fix these technical issues. We now need to find and fix any technical issues we have so to help you find them you will need to use a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Audit.

 

 

 

 

The Adhref’s tool will search through your pages and look for over 100 predefined technical SEO issues.  After the crawl has completed, you’ll be provided with a list of issues which were found on your site.

 

 

Adhref’s Site Audit is a great tool to find the issues, but you still have to fix them.

Let’s go through a few of the important ones you should ensure you fix:

Measure and Fix Page Speed

Slow-loading pages are frustratingly annoying for the user.  If the page does not load quickly you are more than likely going to lose that potential customer.  As a result, Google has stated that website page speed is a ranking factor.  Tools such as Pingdom, GtMetrix or Google Pages peed Insights can measure the speed of a single page and can be very helpful.

So let’s go back to Site Audit, and click on the slow-loading pages issue.

Next, I’ll copy one of the URLs from our list and put it into Pagespeed insights.

As you scroll through the list, you’ll get suggestions on what to fix, and the time saved when you can get by fixing it.

 

 Ensure Your Site is Mobile Friendly 

All websites need to be mobile friendly, so lets make sure that your website works on all devices.  Google has a mobile-friendly test tool you can use to check.  By entering the URL you want to investigate, Google will tell you whether your page is mobile friendly.

 

 

 

 

Fix External or Internal Broken Links

You are nearly there, the next task you need to undertake is to ensure that your website doesn’t have any broken links, as that provides a bad user experience.  It makes sense that you’ll want to fix these because linking to broken pages is a complete waste of “link equity.”

You’ll be able to find what broken pages your website has in Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool under ‘page has links to broken page’.  Click on the number of affected URLs, and you’ll be provided with a list of pages that are linking to broken pages, in addition to the broken pages that have been linked to.

The most effective way to increase your organic site traffic is to provide your customers with what they require.  Give them quality advice and information.