1. Install Google Analytics. Essential to measure key SEO metrics like website traffic, conversions and revenue. Use Ahrefs to measure keyword ranking and link building (alternatives: OpensiteExplorer, MajesticSEO, Semrush)
2. Using WordPress? Download the Yoast SEO Plugin. It will make your life 10x easier. Use it to complete many of the Technical and On-Page SEO best practices in one place.
3. Verify Your Site in Google Search Console. This free tool allows you to check how the search engines view your site with reports about indexing status, search queries, crawl errors and penalties. To learn more, read this helpful guide.
4. Improve Website Performance & Speed. Analyze your site with Google PageSpeed Insights. Aim to score 80+. Speed things up with the free WordPress Plugins: Better Delete Revision, WP Smush and W3 Total Cache [alternative: WP Super Cache].
5. Take the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Your site should deliver a great user experience across all devices. Extra important now that Google’s algorithm favours mobile friendly sites.
Keyword Research Process
6. Develop a Buyer Persona: Getting into your customers shoes is the first step to keyword research. Remember, customers are not searching for your site. They are searching for valuable information to solve their problems. Having a buyer persona is a crucial first step to to figuring out what your best customers are typing into Google.
7. Keyword Strategy. Aim to target less competitive “body and long tail keywords” that competitors have overlooked. Create content around a portfolio of keywords rather then one single term.
8. Brainstorm for Keyword Ideas. Make a copy of this Keyword Research Template. Hack Wikipedia for Topic Ideas and Synonyms. Generate 1000’s of long tail keywords ideas using 3 automated tools: Google Autocomplete, Ubersuggest & Keyword Shitter [all free]. Discover untapped keywords and topics using Quora.
9. Narrow Down Your Keyword List: Use search volume data from Keyword Everywhere Extension or Google Keyword Planner to cut down the list. Be sure to consider commercial intent using Cost-per-click (CPC) figures as a guide.
10. Choose Target Keywords: Once you have a list of possible keywords & phrases, start by reviewing the first page of Google for each keyword. Look to see if there are well established sites with high quality content. Then, use data from the MOZ SEO Toolbar to see the authority and number of links competitors have. Eliminate overly competitive keywords and focus on keywords you actually have a chance to rank for. Your chosen keywords will be the centerpieces of your content.
On-page SEO Checklist