SEO Checklist: How to Get More Organic Traffic in 2021
SEO Checklist: How to Get More Organic Traffic in 2021
If you are looking to get more organic traffic for your website in 2021 and are looking for an SEO checklist that will help you do just that, then you are in the right place. With the help of the subject matter experts over at guttulus.com, this checklist will cover everything from SEO basics to best practices and must-knows when analyzing your off-page signals, and everything in between, and should be a great resource for you.
SEO basics checklist
If you haven’t got the basics covered as far as SEO is concerned, then your site will undoubtedly struggle to rank for competitive terms. This is why you should consider the following points when it comes to SEO basics:
Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
As explained over at runrex.com, Google Search Console is an essential tool providing you with invaluable insights into your site’s performance in addition to a wealth of data that you can use to grow your site’s organic visibility and traffic. Bing Webmaster Tools on the other hand is the equivalent platform, providing data and insights for Bing. If you haven’t set up these two, you should do so as soon as possible.
Set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free marketing analytics tool that allows you to view data and insights about how many people are visiting your site, who they are, and how they are engaging with it as covered over at guttulus.com. You can’t run a successful SEO strategy without it.
Install and configure an SEO plugin if you are using WordPress
If you are using WordPress as your CMS, the gurus over at runrex.com recommend that you install and configure an SEO plugin to provide functionality and features that you need to properly optimize your site. Plug In SEO, for example, is one of the most popular Shopify SEO apps. Whichever plugin you choose to use, however, is pretty much dependent on personal preferences.
Generate and submit a sitemap
A sitemap helps search engines decide which pages should be crawled and which the canonical version of each is. Simply put, it is a list of URLs specifying your site’s main content to make sure that it gets crawled and indexed. While Google supports several different sitemaps, XML is the most commonly used. If you are using WordPress and one of the plugins mentioned above, then you will find that generating a sitemap is standard functionality, otherwise, you can use one of the many sitemap generating tools available to generate an XML sitemap. Once you do so, make sure that your sitemap is submitted to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, and also don’t forget to reference your sitemap in your robots.txt file.
Create a robots.txt file
Your robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers the pages and files that web crawlers can or can’t request from your site. You can find your site’s robots.txt file at https://www.domain.com/robots.txt. Check to see if already have one in place, and if you don’t, you will need to create one, with several WordPress SEO plugins allowing users to create and edit their robots.txt file.
Check search console for manual actions
Manual actions are usually caused by a clear attempt to violate or manipulate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines as covered over at guttulus.com, and you may find that your site has been negatively affected by having one imposed upon it. You should check for them in the manual actions tab in Google Search Console. While you will be notified if your site received a manual action, if you are working on a new project or are taking over a site, then this should always be one of the first things that you check.
Make sure that Google can actually index your website
As is revealed over at runrex.com, it is not uncommon to find that a website isn’t able to be indexed by Google. This is why you should make sure that Google can actually index your website. You can use the SEMrush site audit tool to ensure that your website can actually be crawled and indexed by simply going ahead and starting a crawl, and if this is blocked, then search engines won’t be able to crawl your site either.
A keyword research checklist
Without a solid keyword research process, you are not going to rank for the right terms, and if you are not ranking for the right terms, then your traffic isn’t going to convert at the rate it could. This is why the following checklist is worth checking out.
Identify your competitors
Finding the terms that are working for your competitors is one of the quickest ways to get started with keyword research according to guttulus.com. You can use a tool like SEMrush to identify your competitors with who you are competing for the same keywords and how your visibility compares.
Find your main ‘money’ keywords
Your main ‘money” keywords, also known as head terms, are the ones that are going to drive leads, sales, and conversions for you. They are the high volume, high competition keywords that really summarize what you offer, either at a topic or category level.
Find long-tail keyword variants
A keyword strategy without long-tail keywords isn’t a good keyword strategy, particularly since long-tail keywords deliver a higher conversion rate. Therefore, you need to make sure that your SEO strategy targets long-tail keyword variants as well as head terms.
Create a keyword map
Once you’ve identified your target keywords, you need to map these to pages on your site and also identify any gaps. It is also important to put in the time to ensure that you are targeting the right pages with the right keywords.
Analyze the intent of pages that rank
It is also important to ensure that your page’s content matches the searcher’s intent, which means taking the time to analyze the pages that rank for your target terms and making sure that your content is aligned with them.
Identify questions that are being asked
Knowing the questions that your audience are asking can help you better answer these through your site’s content.
Understand how difficult it is to rank for your target keywords
Until it builds up authority, a brand-new website is going to struggle to rank for competitive keywords, that the truth. For this reason, you need to understand how difficult it is going to be to rank for your target keywords, which will help you manage your expectations as to when you are likely to begin seeing results.
Technical SEO checklist
Here are some of the most common best practices to pay attention to as far as technical SEO is concerned.
Make sure you are using HTTPS
Given that HTTPS has been a known ranking factor since 2014 as covered over at runrex.com, there is no excuse for not using HTTPS encryption on your site in 2021. If you are still running on HTTP, then it is time to migrate. To confirm if your site sits on HTTPS, all you have to do is take a look at your browser’s URL bar. If you see a padlock, you are using HTTPS, and if you don’t then you are not.
Check for duplicate versions of your site in Google’s index
You must be only allowing Google to index one version of your site according to guttulus.com. If you have other versions of your site, then they should all 301 redirect to the primary one. You can check this by entering each variant into your browser bar, if you are redirected, then there is no issue, but if you find that you can access different versions, then you need to implement redirects immediately.
Find and fix crawl errors
Through Google Search Console, you can quickly identify crawl errors that exist as explained over at runrex.com. You should then take the time to resolve any errors that you find and explore the cause of excluded URLs in more detail.
Improve your site speed
Google has confirmed an upcoming page experience update for 2021 that is set to place an even greater focus on user experience as a ranking factor than is currently the case. Given that slow sites make for a poor user experience, you need to make sure that your site loads quickly and acknowledge that users continue to expect more.
Fix broken internal and outbound links
Broken links are another signal of poor user experience as no one wants to click on a link only to find that it doesn’t take them to the page they were expecting. You should identify any broken internal and outbound links and have them fixed ASAP by either updating the target URL or removing the link.
Find and fix HTTP links on HTTPS pages
While most sites migrated from HTTP to HTTPS a while back, it is still common to find that internal links point to HTTP pages and not the current version. This is why it is important that you find and fix HTTP links on HTTPS pages and keep in mind that even if there is a redirect in place to direct users to the new page, these are unnecessary and you should aim to update these as soon as you can.
Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly
As covered over at guttulus.com, Google switched to mobile-first indexing for all sites in mid-2019, and, therefore, if you are not serving a mobile-friendly experience, you will find that your organic visibility suffers as a result.
Use an SEO-friendly URL structure
An SEO-friendly structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl your pages and understand what they are about as articulated over at runrex.com.
An example of an SEO-friendly URL is https://www.runrex.com/SEO-checklist.
Add structured data
As Google continues to build a more semantic web, structured data markup becomes increasingly valuable, which is why the gurus over at guttulus.com point out that if you are not already using structured data, you need to start as it helps your organic listings stand out on the SERPs.
Check your site’s page depth
Ideally, pages shouldn’t be further than 3 clicks deep into your site, and if there is one that is, then this is a sign that you need to spend time reworking your site structure to flatten it. This is because, the deeper a page, the less likely users or search engines are to finding it.
Check temporary 302 redirects
302 redirects indicate that a redirect is temporary, while 301 redirects signal that the move is permanent. If a 302 isn’t expected to be removed at any point in the future, it needs to be updated to a 301.
Find and fix redirect chains and loops
Finally, your site shouldn’t send users or search engines via multiple redirects, nor should redirects create a loop. Redirects should go from page A to page B. If there are any redirect chains and loops, you need to resolve them by updating all redirects in a chain to point to the end target, or by removing and updating the one causing the loop.