Yet you'll be able to understand and implement everything that I'm about to show you. This post is for you if you want to rank your website or blog on the first page of Google search results.
And not just any page one, but in the top 3 positions where most clicks go! This website gets over half a million visits every month. That's free organic traffic that is consistent with minimal effort.
The reason for that is I follow this checklist to outrank my competition. But let's first understand how SEO works:
It's simply three main steps:
- Choose the Right Keywords (Do content research).
- Optimize your pages for SEO (Technical SEO, website settings, and more).
- Build credibility or overall topical authority (Backlinks).
For example, H-Supertools gets free traffic for a ‘free hashtag generator' from Google. Have a look at this SERP:
If you also want to rank for keywords, you need to follow the CTA given in the checklist.
SEO Checklist: Rank #1 on Google Fast in 2022
Every item in the checklist is a straight call to action to take SEO seriously and get the ball rolling for your website or blog.
I have divided this ultimate SEO checklist into four categories based on the steps given above:
- Website Configuration Checklist
- Technical SEO Checklist
- Site Performance Checklist
- On-Page SEO Checklist
Let's dive into each section in detail now.
Ultimate SEO Checklist for Website Configuration
Starting a website with a solid foundation is crucial for SEO success. If your website isn't set up properly from the beginning, it can be hard to rank high in Google search results. It should be clean and simple yet useful to your users.
This SEO checklist for website configuration covers all the must-have settings and to-do tasks for a new WordPress site. This section includes a few things that help index your site fast.
Set Up Google Search Console & Google Analytics for Your Site
There are tons of free SEO tools, but Google Search Console (GSC) and Analytics (GA) are the two most essential tools for Google. GSC gives you insights into how your site performs in organic search results.
While GA tracks your website traffic and user behavior. You can use both tools to discover SEO opportunities for your site.
Here's how to connect your site with Google Search Console:
- Sign up for a free Google account.
- Go to the Search Console homepage and click “Add property.”
- Enter your website's URL and “Continue.”
- Click the “HTML tag” tab and copy the provided code.
- Log in to the WordPress dashboard of your site.
- And go to Theme File Editor in Appearance.
- Select the header.php file and paste the code anywhere before </head>
- Get back to GSC and click on ‘Verify.'
Or you can verify your site for GSC using your DNS Provider. All you need is to visit the domain registrar, copy the TXT record and paste it into your domain TXT records.
Here's a complete guide on setting up a Google Search Console account for your website.
Here's how to set up a Google Analytics account to track your site's users.
- Set up Google Tag Manager for your GA account. After that, you need to set up a container for your site.
- Create your GA account.
- Connect analytics tag with your Google Tag Manager.
- Set up goals (optional)
Set Up Bing Webmaster Tools for Your Site
Bing is the second largest search engine globally, so it's important to submit your website to Bing as well. For that, you need to set up a Bing Webmasters Tools account.
It's similar to GSC that provides valuable insights into how your site performs on Bing. Here's how to set up your Bing Webmaster Tools account:
- Sign up for a free Microsoft account.
- Go to the Bing Webmaster Tools homepage and click “Add a Site.”
- Submit your site's XML sitemap.
- Place an XML file on your server or copy the meta tag and paste it into your site's header. Or you can add CNAME to your hosting provider.
Another easy method is to install a WordPress plugin like Yoast or RankMath that helps you verify your site for Bing Webmaster Tools.
Set Up Baidu & Yandex Webmasters Account to Submit Your Site
Baidu and Yandex are the largest search engines in China and Russia. Both countries have huge populations, without a doubt. And that's why you should submit your site to these search engines.
But some people believe it's not worth it. But why not try this out! It's free to do so after all. All you need is a little time out of your tough schedule.
Here's how to set up Baidu Webmaster Tools accounts:
- Sign up for your Baidu Webmaster Tool account with an international SMS verification method. Enter all your information and continue.
- Submit your site to Baidu.
- And you're good to go.
And here's how you can set up a Yandex Webmaster account to submit your site.
- Visit Yandex.Webmaster
- Log in with Google, Twitter or Facebook accounts.
- Go to ‘My sites'
- Click on the ‘+' sign and enter your site's URL.
- Verify your site using the same methods used with GSC.
For example, you can go to your site's WordPress dashboard to paste the HTML code under <head> into Theme Editor's header.php file.
Here's how to add your site to the Yandex Webmaster account.
Add Important Pages to Your Site's
You submit your sitemap to search engines like Google so that it finds and indexes your site's content. But what if it doesn't have any content in the first place?
Of course, you must start by developing some essential pages and submitting at least 30 articles in the first few days. Those important pages may be:
- Terms and Conditions – to use your site and save it from any legal action.
- ‘Contact' and ‘About' pages – to showcase that you're a real human 🙂
And use any contact plugin to create a ‘Contact' page for your site. All you need for the ‘About' page is to go to ‘Pages' in the WordPress dashboard. Click on ‘Add a page,' title your page as ‘About,' and start writing your story.
Here's how to create common website pages in detail.
Start Tracking Keywords and Backlinks for Your Site
Tracking your backlinks and keywords is important for SEO so that you can optimize accordingly. It helps you understand which SEO strategies work for your site and which aren't.
Many tools are available to track your backlinks and keywords, including Ahrefs and SEMRush. So if you already have a subscription to these premium SEO tools, you don't need to go anywhere else.
Definitive Technical SEO Checklist (2022)
The first step is to check whether Google indexes your website. You can do this by searching for “site:YourWebsite.Com” in Google. If your website doesn't show up in the search results, you need to fix it before you can move on.
I have already created a detailed technical SEO checklist for you.
Let's get started with a few important actions you must do to improve your website's technical SEO.
Create WWW Site Version
Having www site version is important for SEO. You can check if your website has a www version by typing www.YourWebsite.com in the browser.
If it redirects to YourWebsite.com, you don't have a www site version, and you need to create one as soon as possible. Ensure that you take all the versions into account. Here's how to make the www version of your site.
Set Up SSL Certificate for Your Site
Installing an SSL certificate on your website is one of the most important SEO checklist items. Google has even started giving ranking boosts to sites secured with SSL certificates.
Here's how to install an SSL certificate on your site.
Create a Sitemap for Your Website
If you want Google to index all the pages of your website, you need to create a sitemap. A sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs on your website. This makes it easier for search engine crawlers to discover and index your content.
You can create an XML sitemap manually or use a WordPress plugin like Yoast or RankMath.
Specify Your Site's Robotos.txt file
The Robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which pages they should index and avoid. To create a robots.txt file, you need to specify which user agents can crawl your website and which pages they can access.
Use this Robots.txt file to create a plugin or go with RankMath or Yoast.
Properly Use Noindex and Nofollow Tags
The noindex tag tells search engine crawlers not to index a particular page on your website. This is useful if you have pages on your website that you don't want to appear in the search results.
Website publishers do this to maintain topical authority on search engines like Google. And the nofollow tag, on the other hand, tells search engine crawlers not to follow the links on a particular page.
This is how to use noindex and nofollow meta tags on your site.
Configure Permalinks for Your WordPress Site
Permalinks are the URLs of your blog posts and pages. They should be permanent, i.e., they shouldn't change after you publish a post or page. That's why they're called permalinks. And here's how you set them up in a WordPress site.
- Open your WordPress dashboard.
- Go to Settings.
- Select Permalinks and opt for “Post name' only.
WordPress automatically generates permalinks for your posts and pages, but they're not always optimal for SEO. So you need to configure permalinks manually. There's only one rule; keep all your URLs short.
Check If You Have a Responsive Website
A responsive website design is a must for SEO these days. Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites because that's what most users use nowadays.
Optimize 404, 301, and Related Pages
A 404 error page is the one that shows up when someone tries to visit a page that doesn't exist on your website. It's important to have a custom 404 error page because it helps improve the user experience.
Also read: What Are 404 Pages: How to Optimize Them.
Add Social Sharing Buttons
Adding social sharing buttons is important to spread the word about your site. It doesn't help your site rank on Google, but it does encourage your readers to share your post.
You can use these WordPress plugins to add social sharing buttons on your site:
That's all for now. Have a look at this technical SEO checklist for more detail.
SEO Checklist for Optimal Site Performance (2022)
This section will cover all the important aspects of SEO to help optimize your website for better rankings and improved site performance.
Site speed is an integral ranking factor for SEO, so check your site's speed and make improvements as needed. Let's start our SEO checklist to optimize your site's performance.
Test Your Site Performance
The first step is to test your site's performance with a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights. This will give you a good idea of where your site stands and what improvements you need to make.
Ensure your site loads quickly on all devices, especially mobile. Use responsive design to ensure your site looks great on all screen sizes. Here's how to test your site performance:
- Go to Google PageSpeed Insight
- Type the URL of your webpage.
- Click the ‘Analyze' button.
Use the Best Hosting Service
Your site's hosting service plays a vital role in its performance. Your site will likely suffer from slow load times, frequent downtime, and security vulnerabilities with poor hosting.
Opt for the Best CDN
CDNs are a great way to improve your site's performance, especially with a global audience. These content delivery network helps deliver your content faster by caching it on servers worldwide.
Make Use of Caching Plugin
Caching plugins help improve your site's performance by caching static files and requests, so they don't have to be loaded each time a user visits your site. Here's how to use a caching plugin to increase your site performance.
This can significantly reduce your site's load time and improve its overall performance. I recommend using W3 Total Cache or WP Fastest Cache. But you don't need a caching plugin if you are already using services from LiteSpeed.
JS and CSS files are responsible for a large part of your site's code. By minifying these files, you can reduce the size of your code and improve your site's performance.
You can minify your files using Minifier, Gzip, Closure Compiler tools, or plugins like Autoptimize or WP Super Minify. Here's how to minify JS and CSS files using a WordPress plugin.
Optimize Images and Lazy Load Them
- Create images using design elements and text-only with Canva.
- Download it in .PNG format and compress them using TinyPNG
- Convert those images into webP.
- Use plugins like WP Smush
- Lazy load them with these plugins
You can optimize your images using WordPress plugins like WP Smush or ShortPixel Image Optimizer. These plugins will help reduce the file size of your images without compromising quality.
Keep Your WordPress Site and Database Up-to-Date
WordPress regularly releases new versions of the WordPress software and plugins. These updates usually include security fixes and performance improvements. So, it's important to keep your site up-to-date with the latest version.
You can update your WordPress site and plugins manually or automatically. I recommend using the automatic update feature in WordPress. But ensure you're not using any poorly maintained plugin.
Use the Fastest Theme or Design Template
Your WordPress theme or website template has a big impact on your site's performance. A poorly coded theme can slow down your site significantly. So, it's important to choose a fast and lightweight theme on your site.
Here are a few fast and lightweight themes to choose from:
And these are some of the best free Blogger templates:
That's all for now. I hope this SEO checklist will help you optimize your site for better performance in 2022. Do let me know if you have any questions.
On-Page SEO Checklist (2022)
Write for People and Search Engines Alike
Some people believe we should only focus on writing for people, and some go for writing for search engines like Google. Search engines want to help their users find relevant information. So I believe you should go for both.
Here are a few tips for writing for people and search engines alike:
- Write a clear, unique, and compelling headline.
- Go for short paragraphs (no more than 3-4 sentences).
- Use bulleted and numbered lists.
- Make important points bold.
- Take a unique angle to help various readers.
- Add as much value to your readers as you can.
Include Target Keyword Naturally Across the Content
Including target keywords in your content doesn't mean stuffing them everywhere. You should add them where it makes sense. Here are a few places where you can use primary keywords:
- Image ALT
- Headings (H1, H2)
- Headings and subheadings.
- First 100 words of the content.
- Throughout the content naturally.
Understand and Use NLP in Your Content
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are nothing but related keywords to your target keyword. But tech companies like Google now use natural language processing (NLP) technology.
NLP in SEO is important because it allows search engines to better understand user search queries and their intent. This, in turn, helps Google provide more relevant results to searchers.
Use On-Page Plugins Like Yoast or RankMath
Both these WordPress on-page SEO plugins are great, but I prefer RankMath. The reason is that it's very lightweight and has a lot of premium features, even in the free version.
Link Out to Relevant and Authoritative Sites
Linking to relevant and authoritative sites is a signal that you have researched well for your topic. It also shows that you are confident enough to give credit where it's due. And it also helps your readers to further research the topic.
Link out to at least 3-to 4 external sites in every post. But ensure they are relevant and make sense as well. Have a look at Maya's take on external links on your site.
You can use this free Backlinks Checker or Moz's Open Site Explorer to check the domain authority.
Never Link to a Page with the Same Keyword
When it comes to on-page SEO, you should never link to a page on your site using the same keyword. This is called keyword cannibalization.
Keyword cannibalization is when you target the same keyword on multiple pages on your site. It's not good for on-page SEO because Google gets confused about which page to rank for.
Also, you don't want other pages to rank for the same keywords you want to rank.
Name Your Images Properly and Set ALT Tag
According to W3Techs, images make up 21.8% of a web page's weight on average. So you should optimize your images to ensure a fast-loading website.
Here are some tips on image optimization:
- Use proper file names for images (For example, on-page-SEO-checklist.webp would be a perfect image file name for this post).
- Use proper alt tags (For example, “on-page SEO checklist” would be the perfect alt image for featured images).
- Compress images to reduce their size without affecting quality.
But overdo it. Or else, you can end up doing the keyword stuffing. Here's how to set images ALT text.
Optimize for Featured Snippet
A featured snippet is a box that appears on top of the search results. It gives a quick summary of the answer to the searchers' query.
Here's an example of a featured snippet:
As you can see, it's a great opportunity to get more traffic to your website. Why? It's because the post gets the zero position for this keyword. You cannot guarantee to get featured on the snippet. But you can optimize for it.
To optimize for a featured snippet,
- Ensure your answer is in the form of a list, table, or paragraph.
- And it should be within 55-60 words.
- Use proper headings and subheadings (H1 & H2 tags) to structure your content.
- Answer the query straight away without any fluff.
- Use proper grammar and simple words.
- Make important points bold.
Give your best answer on the query in one paragraph, and you're likely to get listed on the featured snippet.
Check Dwell Time and Optimize It
Dwell time is a user's time on your site after landing on it from the SERP. A high dwell time is an indication that your content is relevant and useful to searchers. It's also a good on-page SEO ranking factor.
Here's how to improve dwell time for your site:
- Make your content scannable by using proper headings and subheadings.
- Use short paragraphs and sentences.
- Go for simple words (Your content should be easy to read).
- Include images, videos, and infographics to break the monotony of text.
- Write longer posts like this on-page SEO checklist.
- Have a comment section open.
- Optimize your site's speed.
Keep checking the average Dwell time and improve along the way. If the average Dwell time is less than 2 minutes, you need to improve it.
Conclusion on SEO Checklist (2022)
This is the ultimate SEO checklist for getting your pages ranked in Google. These are the things you need to do on every post or page you publish. So bookmark this checklist and keep coming back to follow the action.
Also, you can get this Notion template for the SEO checklist and duplicate it on your Notion account. I have created this so that you can check and uncheck an item to ensure you're not missing out on anything.
I hope this checklist will help you get more traffic to your site and improve your rankings on SERPs. If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments section below.