Search Engine Optimization

The Ultimate SEO Checklist for 2021

Let’s be honest.

If you tried to keep track of all the SEO-related tasks you need to keep track of without a well-organized list, you’d be lost. (Even the experts need a good SEO checklist of what to look for, especially with how frequently algorithms, “best practices,” and tools change!)

Over time, you’ll learn what to check for at a glance, but if you’re going to do a thorough analysis of what you need for SEO, you need something to refer back to. Having this handy SEO checklist will save you a lot of time and headaches.

So what key areas of SEO are the most important to focus on? What are the best tools?

We’ll cover these questions and more in this post, so you can start the new year off with the best tools and resources for SEO.

Let’s get started.

Basic SEO Checklist

For starters, let’s make sure you have the basics covered. These are the things you usually do when starting a new website, like installing Google Analytics. If you’re running WordPress, you need a solid SEO plugin if you don’t have one already.

These are things you’ll want to do early on—but it’s never too late to start! If you’re missing any of these, go ahead and get started.

Google Analytics (GA)

Setting up Google Analytics should be one of the first things you do when setting up a new site or taking over an existing site.

This tool has just about every metric you could possibly want—and it’s free! It can be a little overwhelming at first, but Google has made vast improvements. If you’re not sure how to track a certain metric, you can usually ask Google. 

google analytics

New to Google Analytics? Learn more about how to get started here.

Google Search Console (GSC)

Search Console is a must-have integration for Google Analytics if you want to understand your organic search traffic.

This allows you to view things like how many times your site appears in the search results for a given search query (impressions), along with information about what happens after a viewer clicks through to your site.

It’s a small, but critical, piece of Google Analytics if you want to truly analyze and understand the performance of your site from an SEO perspective.

Learn more about how to configure Google Search Console here.

Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Google Tag Manager is an often overlooked tool that’s great to have if you want to make the most of your analytics.

This tag management system allows you to get more in-depth tracking on things like file downloads, button clicks, and clicks on outbound links. (Ecommerce store owners would also find this useful for things like product and promotion tracking.)

GTM is a less technical approach in that it doesn’t require changing or editing code and lets you easily set up event tracking. However, you do need a working knowledge of how things work if you want to set this up yourself.

Luckily, Google has some great resources on how to get started with Google Tag Manager. Click here to check out their free course on Analytics Academy.

SEO Plugin

Last, but certainly not least—SEO plugins for WordPress.

WordPress is an increasingly popular platform for not just blogging, but full-blown ecommerce sites and major publications. This platform makes it easy to optimize your pages and control how they look to both search engines and social media.

The two most popular plugins are Yoast SEO and RankMath. RankMath is a little newer, but it’s packed with functionality, easy to use, and the free version gives even Yoast’s premium version a run for its money.

However, if you’re already using Yoast or something like All-in-One SEO Pack, don’t jump to change plugins.

While some are more convenient than others, an SEO plugin isn’t going to make or break your performance. Stick to what you’re most comfortable with unless you’re unhappy with what you currently have!

Keywords Checklist

Next, we’ll cover some tools for researching keywords.

It’s a good idea to do your keyword research in bulk—plan everything out ahead of time so you’re not scrambling for keyword and content ideas down the line.

Keeping spreadsheets of keywords (or using tools to track them) makes it easier to always have a bank of ideas on what to optimize.

Here are some great tools, including some free ones that you can use.

Google Suggest

Google suggestions are one of the first ways you can start looking for keyword ideas. All you have to do is head over to and start typing in your topic for some ideas of what people are searching for:

google suggest

The “People also ask” box is a good place to find relevant keywords if you’re looking for longtail keywords or questions.

people also ask

You also have tools that help turn Google suggestions data into more organized keyword lists. Tools like Ubersuggest started out using this data, but have since expanded to be more competitive with other keyword research tools.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is another great free tool to do keyword research if you rely a little more on advertising data. While it’s not the best tool for general keyword research, it can help you get an idea of which keywords are good to try and rank for and how competitive they’ll be.

However, be careful about only relying on data here. When it talks about “competition,” that data is based on advertising costs. You’ll need another kind of SEO tool if you want a better representation of how difficult a keyword is to rank for.

Keyword Explorer Tools

There are tons of great keyword explorer tools out there, but here are some favorites:

Chances are, you might already have one of these that you use for more general SEO purposes.

Mangools KWFinder is another great option, but if you’re using it for only keyword research, it can be a bit expensive. (Their monthly option starts at about $50 per month unless you go with an annual subscription.)

Long Tail Pro and Keysearch are great options if you’re looking more for standalone keyword explorer tools. They’re both around the $30 per month mark, but Long Tail Pro offers a better search with more filters, so you’re not going through lots of “junk” keywords.

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a free option for keyword research if you’re looking to focus more on question-related searches. They now have a paid plan and limit free users to five searches per day.

Just type in a broad keyword for a product you sell—coffee, tea, clothing, shoes—and you’ll be taken away from the weird guy that stares at you to the keyword data. You can choose to display a visualization, which is great for presentations, or organize the data into easier-to-read blocks.

answer the public

You can also find more visualizations by clicking on the “image” button on each block. Below this section, you’ll find even more data from searches with prepositions, comparisons, and related keywords.

answer the public image

Download your data for later use, either by capturing the images or downloading a CSV that organizes your data by different types of modifiers.

On-Page SEO Checklist

On-page SEO can seem tedious, but once you get into the swing of things, you’ll be able to go down this list pretty quickly.

These are things that you can easily check for at a glance if you’re using WordPress with an SEO plugin. 

If you’re not in the habit of checking these, just start with any new posts and pages you create. You can go back and work on optimizations for old pages, but it’s okay to pace yourself! Just do a few posts per day or per week as your availability allows.


Make sure each piece of content that’s designed to rank has a good primary keyword. Keyword research tools like Long Tail Pro can help you find keywords to rank for based on your site’s current presence.

In addition, you’ll want 4-5 other related keywords to focus on.

Good keywords:

  • Provide an accurate description of your post
  • Are relevant to your ideal reader
  • Have a decent search volume
  • Are reasonably competitive for your site

In regards to competition, keyword research tools that help you get an idea of how competitive a keyword is should also let you know what difficulty you should target. (For instance, if you have a new site, you’ll have a hard time ranking for even moderately competitive keywords, which Long Tail Pro scores at 30+.)

In general, want to make sure each piece of content has a unique keyword. That is, you don’t want multiple pieces of content aiming to rank for the same keyword. Otherwise, you’re competing with yourself and risking getting the more relevant page devalued.


If you’re a writer, titles and H1 tags are usually the same. But from an SEO perspective, these are two completely different things.

You’ll notice that on some articles, the title that you see on the search engine results page (SERP) and the header when you view the article are different. This isn’t a super common practice, but you’ll see that many of the top results use different SERP and visual titles.

When crafting a title, it should:

  • Be useful to search engines
  • Be appealing to readers
  • Include important keywords at the beginning
  • Fit within character and pixel limits

You’ll also want to include your brand name somewhere in your title. Whether it’s separated and included at the end of your title or incorporated into the title (“Your brand” guide to “X”), you want readers to be able to quickly recognize your content in search results.


URLs should be short and to the point.


The best URLs are short enough to be easy to remember, but tell your readers exactly what your content is about.

Unless you’re a massive publication with tons of content (or a news publication where dates are highly relevant), you want to stick to this format: (And even then, you want to avoid lengthy URLs—use the category only if you must.)

By default, CMS platforms like WordPress just put your entire headline in the URL. Shorten it to something easier to remember and tells your readers only what you need to know.

Header Tags

Including keywords in your header tags won’t make or break your on-page SEO efforts, but Google does still look at your headers for context. (There are plenty of top-ranking pages that have no target keywords in their headers.)

However, headers are still something you need to pay careful attention to. Headers are a great way to improve your readability and structure.

If you’re using WordPress, you can also easily turn your headers into a convenient index with plugins like Lucky ToC. You know those bulleted and numbered lists in “position 0” at the top of the SERP? This is where headers can make a huge difference.

For that reason (and for the sake of keeping your readers’ interest), you should put as much effort into your subheaders as you do your main headlines. You want these to look good on a list and encourage readers to stick around for the rest of the article.

Meta Description

Your meta description is another place you’ll need to include keywords. While having keywords in your meta description doesn’t directly impact your SEO, it can increase your click-through rate.

You’ll notice that keywords in your meta description show up in bold, making them stand out as more relevant results in the SERP. Combined with attention-grabbing copy, you’ll get a better click-through rate than just stuffing your meta description with a bunch of keywords.

Images & Alt Text

Image titles and alt text are both important to pay attention to. These are used for Google’s image search, as well as accessibility tools like screen readers. You’ll want to make these useful to both your readers and Google Image Search.

Alt-text is also used in social media sharing and for certain browser extensions.

When readers share your page on Pinterest, for instance, they’re prompted to pick a photo. By default, Pinterest creates pin descriptions from the alt text of your photo. Many other visual search engines and platforms function similarly.

Internal & External Links

It’s important to link to a mix of internal and external content in your posts.

Internal links are important because they help keep readers engaged and introduce them to other content on your site. In turn, this helps certain metrics like session duration and bounce rate.

External links are equally important. But more important than just having external links is making sure they link to relevant, reputable sources.

If you find content that you want to link to, but if it’s not closely related to your content or from an authoritative site, it’s safer to tag it with a “nofollow.”

Technical SEO Checklist

Technical SEO has had a lot of changes over the past few years, especially when it comes to how Google indexes sites.

With “mobile-first” indexing on the horizon and more focus on things like UX and site speed, it’s never been more important to optimize your site for performance.


Crawlability refers to whether or not search engine crawlers have permission to crawl your site. This is the most basic part of technical SEO and if your site can’t be crawled, everything else after this is pointless.

The easiest thing to start with is your robots.txt. All you have to do is make sure you’re not blocking Google. (Rarely, some hosts will do this by default, so you’ll need to change that.)

In addition, you’ll want to pay attention to your site structure. If you have pages that aren’t linked to from anywhere on your site (or via external links), crawlers might have trouble accessing those pages.

A strong internal link structure has no dead ends and every piece of content is connected. Also, structure indicates a sort of hierarchy, with lots of internal and external links going to your main pieces of content.


Crawlability is the first part of technical SEO, but you’ll also want to make sure your site is being indexed.

You can easily make sure your pages are being indexed by having Google Analytics and Search Console properly configured. (You can also submit your pages and request an index through Search Console, using the URL Inspection tool.)


With mobile-first indexing right around the corner, UX is kind of a big deal.

Think of all the sites you’ve been to where ads make the site completely unusable if you’re viewing from your phone. Banners bug out, menus don’t display properly, entire sections of the site might not load at all…many sites are still a nightmare to access on mobile.

And according to Google, over 50% of people say they won’t consider purchasing from a brand that has a poorly designed mobile site. Yikes.

Optimizing your site doesn’t have to be difficult—many WordPress themes are already mobile-friendly and developers design sites with responsiveness in mind. But if you’re using dated page builders or your site takes more than several seconds to load anything on mobile, you might want to revisit things before mobile-first indexing rolls out in March 2021.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the changes.

In addition to making sure your site is mobile-friendly, you’ll want to make sure both mobile and desktop users can easily navigate your site.

Making sure your site is easy to navigate starts with having a useful navigation menu in the top bar and footer that links to all of your most relevant content. At the very least, you’ll want a landing page for featured products and services, an “about” page, and a place where visitors can contact you.

3xx: Redirects

3xx status codes are your redirect. You should be using either a 301 permanent redirect, 302 found, or 307 temporary.

Use these carefully, as creating redirects always carries a bit of a risk. They can pass PageRank, but have some decay just like normal links to avoid exploitation.

If you use a 307 temporary redirect, be sure to update it. Otherwise, these just get treated like a normal 301 if you leave a temporary redirect along for too long.

When creating a permanent redirect, link to a relevant piece of content if possible. Redirect to your home page only if you have to. Especially for new visitors, being dropped at the home page when they’re expecting something else can lead to a negative experience

4xx: Client Errors

Client error codes indicate that something isn’t loading. These are often due to temporary outages or links that were removed and never properly redirected (404). 404s are the most common and are usually caused by deleted pages or a change in the URL structure. (More on changing URL structure here.)

Also, 404s can create an awful user experience. Nothing is more annoying than being pointed to this awesome page that promises something…only to be told that it can’t be found.

These errors are easily avoidable by setting up a redirect when you have to remove a page.

Site Speed

If you’ve talked to an SEO consultant at any point, you’ve probably gotten an earful about site speed.

It’s not just a sales pitch—web developers, SEO consultants, bloggers, and more—they all have site speed in mind. Part of it is SEO (site speed is a ranking factor), but the bigger part of it is user experience.

Your visitors care about how quickly pages load. And if they can’t get the information they’re looking for quickly enough, they’ll get it elsewhere. Don’t lose potential customers just because your site took too long to load!


Schema is an often-overlooked part of technical SEO, often because site owners think it’s much more difficult than it is.

Schema is commonly used to display additional information for things like:

  • Organizations/Companies
  • People
  • Local Businesses
  • Products and Offers
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Events
  • Recipes

While it doesn’t have a huge impact on SEO, it can affect click-throughs. It can help you appear in snippets above other results or make your listing visually stand out from other results.

For instance, when users are searching for reviews:

schema markup

Reviews that show a rating on the SERP stand out more than other listings.

Schema can also display links to other pages right from the SERP, letting users easily visit other parts of your site. 

Duplicate Content

While Google doesn’t technically penalize sites for duplicate content, it can send some conflicting signals and hurt your ranking in the long run. When search engines don’t know which versions of that content to include in the search results, they could end up tossing out the more relevant one.

This issue is prevalent especially in WordPress sites with posts in multiple categories. While category pages can rank on their own, having lots of category pages with the same posts can keep all of them from ranking (which, unfortunately, happens pretty frequently).

You can fix duplicate content issues by marking pages you don’t want to rank as “noindex,” creating redirects where appropriate, or using the canonical attribute.

Duplicate content can also be problematic when it’s between pages published around the same time.

For instance, if you syndicate content on Medium or LinkedIn, those pieces could end up ranking above the same piece of content on your site. Medium allows you to set canonical links back to your posts to avoid this situation.

Less frequently, you might have issues with scraped/stolen content. Sometimes, you’ll find that your content has been outright copy and pasted on another site, completely without your permission.

There’s no easy way to fix this situation aside from contacting the site owner or the hosting company if they don’t respond to your request. Luckily, most web hosts are quick to help you resolve the issue if it’s clear who the content belongs to. (And most of the sites stealing content are very obviously scammy, making it pretty clear who owns the content.)

Content Checklist

Content is the bread and butter of SEO.

With great content that’s equal parts informative, easy to read, and entertaining, you’ll find that ranking for even moderately competitive keywords can be easy. (More than that, you’ll find some of your content ranking for keywords you didn’t even consider!)

Here are some things to consider when you’re creating content.

Grammar, Spelling, and Style

Grammar is a big part of content creation. Good grammar can make your content easy to read and help your credibility. Poor grammar and spelling can be a bit frustrating to readers and hurt your credibility.

It’s okay to break the rules now and then, but be consistent and know why you’re breaking those rules.

Having a style guide can help stay “on-brand.” You should have a specific style associated with your brand. That might be super casual and conversational, much like talking to your friends. Or, if you’re writing content aimed at businesses, you might keep a conversational style with just a bit of a formal touch.

Maintaining consistent grammar and style rules can be difficult when you’re working with lots of different writers. But having a well-documented guide can make all the difference.


In today’s crowded digital space, readability can be the difference between readers making it to the end of the article or bouncing right after your intro.

For the best reader experience:

  • Be concise
  • Use headers to break up content
  • Use formatting to make important text stand out
  • Create bulleted or numbered lists
  • Alternate between long and short paragraphs
  • Be objective, not subjective

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to use a grammar checker, like Grammarly. While grammar checkers aren’t a replacement for a human editor, they can help clean up your content before you come back to edit later.

Tools like the Hemingway Editor can help shorten your sentences and make suggestions to reduce wordiness.

You’ll also want to make it easy to scan your article. Even if you think people should read all the way through, we have to keep in mind that not every part of the article is relevant to every reader.

More experienced readers might not be interested in detailed explanations, while beginners will thank you for the extra information.

Headers and bold formatting can help draw attention to parts of your article and make it easier to scan—just don’t overdo it!

Content Formats

Another thing to keep in mind when creating content is what format your audience would want. While written content is convenient, some visitors may prefer to listen as they’re doing chores or commuting to work. Others may prefer videos and presentations.

There are tons of tools available to help you convert content into other formats. It’s easy to turn YouTube videos into audio and written content. (And vice versa—though, that has a long way to go!)

While making your content more accessible, scannable, and easier to read doesn’t have a direct impact on SEO, it can indirectly improve your rankings by improving reader experience and making them more likely to engage with your content.

Link Acquisition Checklist

Link building isn’t quite as impactful as it used to be, but it still plays a big part in not just SEO but getting highly targeted traffic.

When people think of link building, one of the first things that comes to mind is spammy link building tactics where you try to get links from anyone and everyone under the sun. (Yes, companies that sell these services do still exist.)

However, good link acquisition can get you in front of readers that are already interested in your business.

Part of what makes link building so powerful is that you’re (hopefully) getting links from a trusted source. Those readers will be more likely to engage with your content and explore your products and services because someone they trust mentioned you. (There’s still a gap to close, but referrals make it much easier!)

Here are some ways to get links to your site that people will actually click.

Guest Posting

You’re probably familiar with guest posting if you’ve looked into link acquisition before—this is the most common way to build links.

Most sites that accept guest posts allow you to include a link in your post, as well as an author description and link to your main website. This is a great way to get in front of a highly targeted audience, but you have to make a good first impression.

It’s important to have great content on your site—you’ll need to maintain and exceed that standard when posting on high-profile sites. After all, you’re not just posting to get a link back to your site. You need to get readers to click!

Some sites will charge a fee to publish your content. Others will offer to pay you for your content.

It kind of depends on how much they need content and the quality of your content. In general, paying for your content to be published isn’t worth it. Most authoritative sites will choose to publish your content based on its quality, not whether or not you pay them.


Help a Reporter Out is a good way to get featured on niche sites. HARO judges the quality of sites based on their Alexa ranking, which must be 1 million or less.

As someone looking for links, you’ll want to register as a source.

Once you’re signed up, you can set your preferences based on industry. You’ll get several queries daily. You reply to queries with answers to their questions and include a short bio, along with your contact information.

Keep in mind that, while you’re used as a source, you’re not guaranteed a link. In most cases, however, interactions with publishers will result in a link or at least a mention of you and your company.

Resource Pages

Looking for resource pages is a good opportunity for a link.

They’re often flooded with other links and mentions, but resource pages are often one of the best-performing pages on a website. Resource pages are designed to pack tons of information into a single page that readers can bookmark and refer back to time and time again.

When you see a mention of your company or a competitor mentioned on these pages, reach out to the site owner. Some resource pages even have links where you can submit information to the author for consideration.


Writers are always looking for infographics, but don’t want to design infographics or hire a designer. Unlike guest posting, you’re not spending the time creating custom posts for each site.

Just reach out with a link to your infographic and the original post it’s from and see if the writer would like to include it in their article. Many infographics you see published on other sites also state that you have permission to use them in blog posts, sometimes asking for a link back in return.

If your page takes off, you might not even have to do the outreach! Infographics tend to take off after a while with enough shares, especially when you leverage visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

Link Magnets – Tools, case studies, etc.

Done correctly, link magnets can work some real magic.

The idea is to create content that’s valuable, unique, and moderately easy to rank for. Take CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer:

co schedule headline analyzer

Tons of people talk about this nifty little tool and there’s no way CoSchedule has the time to reach out to that many people.

There may have been some outreach and announcing at the start, but people that give advice on writing and blogging constantly reference this tool because it’s just so useful.

Make My Persona by HubSpot is another side project that made its way into the spotlight. This tool helps marketers paint a picture of their ideal persona.

Okay, so those are more side projects which we know most businesses won’t have the time for. But what about content?

Tools like BuzzSumo are a great way to find out what kind of content people are likely to share (mostly on social, but it has some backlink data as well). Just type in a search term or the topic you want to focus on. In this example, we’ll search for copywriting-related content:


As you can see, all the top results are related to relevant events (pandemic), feature infographics, have a compelling promise (who doesn’t want words that eat dragons for breakfast?), or come from reputable sources (TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, etc.).

Infographics, as we talked about above are great for gaining traction on platforms like Pinterest and find their way into lots of different blog posts for reference.

Guides that teach you how to do something really well (rock your copy with power words that eat dragons for breakfast) are great on their own, but this post goes into insane detail on a somewhat narrow topic. (Like almost 8,000 words level of in-detail.)

Link Reclamation

If you’re targeting the right sites, claiming unlinked mentions is a more affordable, less time-intensive way to get links. (Canva does this well—they found one of my relatively new blogs of 500 viewers a month and informed me that I had mentioned their brand and politely requested I link to them as well.)

Finding brand mentions can be as simple as doing a quick Google search and looking for mentions of your brand name. This is much easier when you’re a small brand with a unique name—otherwise, searching can be a bit of a pain.

Reach out to people who mention you and ask them to drop you a link or link to a specific page. Be polite about it—don’t call them out on forgetting to include a link or anything that might turn them off, unless you’re positive you can come across charmingly and not sound like you’re griping!

Link reclamation isn’t just about mentions, though. Think broken URLs—nothing is more annoying than being linked to some awesome resource, only to land on a 404. Reach out to the author and let them know you found a broken link and that you have some relevant content that could take its place.

Press Releases

Press releases indirectly impact SEO by getting media coverage, gaining people’s interest, and hopefully, getting your content shared. However, you can’t just write something PR-style and expect the media to come running to share it.

Many companies publicize things like meeting major milestones, company mergers, grand openings, partnerships, product launches, community events, and crisis management. (Let’s hope you’re not looking to write a release for that last one.)

You need to present these things in a way that people will want to share.

Let’s be honest—most press releases are pretty drab, mostly because people write purely for media and to get links.

Light-hearted jokes, witty one-liners, and pop culture references are all little things you can throw in to make your release (and by extension, your brand) more relatable to your audience. You can be fun without entirely throwing professionalism out the window.

Still keep in mind that you’re writing for busy reporters and editors—so keep fluff to a minimum, with just enough of the extras to keep readers entertained.

E-A-T Checklist

E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) is a set of guidelines created by Google for its rating team.  While these guidelines have no direct impact on SEO, they’re a great quality check to help make sure your content is up to par.

Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when considering E-A-T.


When most people think about E-A-T, they think about websites and their content. However, having an author that has displayed expertise, is widely considered an authority on a topic, and is trusted by their audience is just as important.

Having some well-known names on your posts can help boost your credibility and gain readers’ trust.

Even if your writers don’t have all of these things starting out (we all have to start somewhere!), you can display these traits by creating unique, helpful content that meets the criteria and builds up author reputation over time.

In the meantime, consider hiring guest authors or industry experts to help create content for your blog.


Trustworthiness is a huge part of E-A-T and having policies that are clearly written and easy to find can help build trust with your audience.

For instance, if you’re an ecommerce store, you should have refund and return policies that are easy to find and understand. They shouldn’t be buried in a page that doesn’t have any links to it.

If you’ve hired a professional to create your policies, chances are it’s not easy for your audience to understand.

Many of these use templates with incredibly wordy legalese and are anything but reader-friendly. If you have to make it long, create some extra text that helps break down your policies for readers. (Pinterest has a great example of a user-friendly terms and conditions page here.)

About Us Page

Do readers know who’s behind your website? 

Having an “about us” page with a list of authors and other contributors can help build trust with your readers, or display authority and expertise if you have any well-known industry experts on your team.

For instance, many radio stations have a list of personalities. Consumers aren’t the only ones interested in who’s behind a business like this—interested advertisers want to know who they’re working with to get their ads out to an audience.

Having a list of personalities (or in other cases, authors or other team members) can help people picture who they’re working with.

Contact Us Page

Not having a contact page can be a little shady, especially if you’re an ecommerce store.

Potential customers want to be able to reach someone quickly if they need help. If you don’t have a contact page, provide an email or phone number, and let them know how soon they can expect to hear back from you. (Preferably to an email with an automatic response that lets them know you received their email!)

SSL Certificate

Having an SSL certificate is a must, especially if you’re taking payments.

Trustworthiness isn’t just about being a trusted source of help and information—it’s about making sure readers feel safe while they’re browning and making transactions.

SSL is important for just about any site that collects data, whether that’s payment information, addresses, or even something as simple as their email address. Even if you don’t collect any of these things, it still doesn’t hurt to have SSL.

Luckily, most web hosts make it easy to install SSL certificates. Many of them are even providing them as part of your hosting plan as a “1-click install” where installing SSL certificates is as simple as clicking “enable.”

If you have an existing site without SSL, many hosts will help you make the transition, including making sure you have your site set up to redirect properly and updating your analytics.

Claims and Sources

Just as important as the actual content on your site—the claims you make and the sources you use to support those claims.

While most readers won’t dig into the sources of your articles, it’s important to have these available in case they want to do a little research. You’ll want these sources to be reputable, with strong studies to back up their claims.

Summary & Takeaways

In this article, we gave you checklists for:

  • Basic SEO
  • Keyword research tools
  • On-page SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Content
  • Link acquisition
  • E-A-T

SEO is always changing, but much of what’s mentioned in this article has a lot of staying power, especially when your focus is just creating great content. Always keep your audience in mind—create for readers first, but make sure your content is accessible with minor optimizations for the search engines.

Want to learn more about SEO and what it can do for your business? Get in touch with us to learn more about SEO services and consultations. We’d love to help!

Start the new year with this handy SEO checklist to help you optimize content and find areas of improvement to give your SEO a boost.

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By Zac Almeida

Before joining the team at Ethical Digital, Izaias built a successful SEO agency in São Paolo, Brazil. With over twelve years of experience providing data-driven SEO, he has worked with businesses of all sizes - from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies. After selling his business to travel the world with his wife, "The SEO Hustler" has been helping companies in more than 15 countries and 6 languages thrive in the digital and search world.


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