SEO 101: The SEO Checklist

This is me.

Author: Tim Strawbridge

Date Created: Jan 02, 2021

  • search engine optimization,
  • seo,
  • assistive technology,
  • seo checklist
charts on table with pen

It's a common practice to make sure the design of the page is great. The design alone doesn't work for website rankings. Optimizing it for search will. Looks can take you far but you also need optimization as well. Check out our SEO checklist and implement these as standard practice and watch your rank climb on search result pages.

SEO Checklist

Who doesn't love checklists? We've compiled a list of items that are basic necessities that will help increase your website's ranking in search results. There are many good tools to use that are freely available. We've looked at the majority of them and came to the conclusion that even though you punch in a web address and you get results, it may not be as effective as running a manual check. Tools that provide scoring have different methods and you will often have to use a combination of a few different tools in order to complete an audit. With our downloadable checklist, we've been able to compile the list of the most important elements of search engine optimization.

In the tables below the "ranking" column is used to weigh the effectiveness of the element described. Here is the scoring valuation we used to rate each element:

1 = not important

2 = important

3 = very important

On-page Optimization

Elements of on-page optimization are things like keywords and content. Think of anything that is on the page. On-page goes more in-depth than just meta tags. Providing users with valuable quality content is key to on-page optimization success.

Page title1Keep the page title from 50 to 70 characters.
Meta description2This should describe the page briefly. Keep it around 70 to 155 characters
URL2Keep the URL short and under 255 characters.
Image ALT text2This should describe the image as much as possible. Every image should have ALT text.
Keywords3Have high-quality content. Meta keywords are not used by Google, however, other search engines use them.

Off-page Optimization

Optimizing for off-page SEO is quite different than on-page. Off-page SEO consists of anything not on the website. We can think of this as social media and podcasts even email campaigns. The key to off-page optimization is these four aspects:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Topic relevancy
  3. Search engine and user experience
  4. Authority
Social media3You should have relevant social media profiles according to your business.
Guest posts1Guest posting helps position yourself as an expert in the topic. This will eventually help build links.
Link building2Links to listing sites are important in building authority and trust. This is high-risk high-reward.
Public relations3By promoting a great story and publishing it, this method can drive traffic to the website.
Content marketing3Guest posting and media publishing is a great strategy for content marketing. Content marketing is also contributing to media outlets.
Brand building3This is the business's identity, marketing, and strategy and ultimately how the customer sees your business.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the elements that are on the server and configurable. Page speed is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO. We like to use Lighthouse for metric scoring and analysis. 

CSS Minification2Linked CSS files should be minified. For help on how to minify CSS, we created a web app for that.
Inline CSS1Inline CSS overrides all CSS for an HTML element. It's best not to inline your CSS.
JS Minification2Linked Javascript files should be minified. For help on how to minify js, we created a web app for that.
JS Bundling3Javascript files should be bundled for maximum performance.
Image Optimization2Images should be optimized for the web and be small in size ( <150kB )
Mobile Image Optimization2Images should be optimized for mobile and have a different aspect ratio.
Page Speed3Page speed is a critical performance metric that some search engines use to rank web pages. Concentrate on Total Block Time (TBT), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) in order to achieve the best results.


Security components with the website have an impact on SEO.

Using an SSL Certificate2Google ranks websites higher when using HTTPS vs HTTP.
HSTS Implemented2This is a secure channel from end-point to end-point.
Blacklisted site
2Blacklisted sites are known to be associated with spam.
Crawling errors
2Check your analytics often to make sure no crawl errors occur.
Outdated plugins1Plugins should be kept up to date.
Malicious bots2Check backlinks for malicious sites that have linked to your website.
Content Security Policy2Setup a CSP to only allow external links to come from certain websites.
Links to cross-origins3
Use rel="noopener" or rel="noreferrer" on anchor tags.


Websites should be built to be accessible to everyone. An accessible website follows 4 main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

Breadcrumb links2Using breadcrumb links is a great way to increase user experience.
Image ALT text1This is a description of the image when the image doesn't load.
Anchor text
1Describes what is being linked to a page.
Navigation2Helps users find their way around the site.
Buttons and links have names2Accessible names are required for screen readers.
Uses ARIA2ARIA is an assistive web technology that helps users with impairments.

Final Thoughts on SEO

As more and more drag-n-drop builder applications are being created, SEO is sometimes pushed to the side. Most of the drag-n-drop builders are for designers that need an attractive-looking website. We aren't saying these automated drag-n-drop builders are bad—because they're not. Drag-n-drop builders allow non-developers to quickly build a website. In order for your website to get traffic, search engine optimization needs to happen. If you sell a product and have a e-commerce site, this could be devastating to your business. SEO should not be overlooked on any website and should be as much a part of the planning process as the design that goes into it.

For more information on what Google really looks for to help determine SEO and search engine ranking, review Google's own Search Quality Raters Guidelines. This guide is a bit long to read however it is a great tool to use.

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