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SEO Checklist

On this page, I plan to collate the bits and pieces of SEO advice & knowledge I scrap out while researching how to improve my own website’s SEO.

Related: SEO For Beginners & Newly Established Websites

Writer’s SEO Checklist

Is the Scope of your Website Focused?

Focus onto a single scope/subject. For example, if your scope is wireless headphones, then write content that has anything do to with wireless headphones. But it is bad SEO to also write about frogs if your website’s scope is wireless headphones. That’s because Google prefers websites that focus onto a single topic with expertise, instead of generalists.

Although ironically I am guilty for spreading the scope of my website to many different subjects X-( But I do go indepth with them, instead of skimming the surface so to speak. Hopefully that counts for something to Google.

Are You Making Content for Your Audience?

Focus on writing content for your audience. Not keywords.

That’s because when your website has competitors for specific keywords, Google decides which website to rank above the other based on user experience.

But how does Google measure the user experience?

Well, Google evaluates the user experience of your website through retention. In other words, how long Google searchers ended up staying on your webpage before leaving, and the bounce rate (bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.) Additionally, If visitors finds the solution on your website and doesn’t search the same keywords back again in Google, then Google can assume that a satisfactory solution was found on your website.

So How Do I Improve Retention?

In order to improve the retention of visitors to your website, and therefore improve your website’s pageranking, you have to give your visitor a quality experience.

The main way you can improve the experience of the visitor is by giving the visitor what he is looking for. For example, if the title of your article is “Can’t Sleep at Night?“, most likely a google searcher searching for similar keywords will find and relate to your article’s title.

At this point, your article has to first solve what the google searcher is searching for. For example, the article could outline and review solutions to sleeping at night.

Second, your article has to be pleasant to read. For example, you don’t want to use Comic Sans or Old English for your paragraphs. Similarly, its important that your format your text with sub-headers,  short paragraphs, etc. to help the reader read the content.

And third, your website should have related internal links that the google searcher can click on to further indulge his curiosity about the related keywords he was searching for.

Other important factors that should be considered for improving the user experience includes:

  • Fast website loading speed. At least your visitor shouldn’t have to wait more than 2 seconds for the page to load; otherwise they’ll bounce.
  • Good UI & Navigation
    • breadcrumbs
  • Easy to read font
    • The reason why Times New Roman is a classic standard, is because Times New Roman is highly readable.
  • Formatting
  • Sub headlines that makes an information gap in the reader’s mind, so he keep reading to find out more.

Use Captivative Writing to Improve Visitor Retention and Bounce Rate

You can improve the the captivating nature of your writing by using:

  • Ask questions at the end of each paragraph
  • Begin articles with a questions
  • Use Bucket Brugades. Bucket Brugades are words and phrases that keep people on your page. These words or phrases must open up information gaps in their mind; in other words pique the reader’s curiousity
  • Use subheadings that don’t describe its paragraph, but describe why this paragraph will benefit you.
  • Use APP formula: Agree, Promise, Preview.
    • Agree: first paragraph agrees with what the user is looking for
      • ie. “I think you’ll agree with me when I say: It’s REALLY hard to get sleep at night” Or is it?
    • Promise: promise something better
      • ie. “Well, it turns out, there are a couple of solutions to getting better sleep at night”
    • Preview: tell reader what you have in store for them.
      • ie. “So in this article I’m going to show you exactly what options you can take in order to sleep better at night.”

Google SERP SEO Checklist

Craft Headlines that encourage Google Searcher to choose your article.

Keywords is a part of the headline (what shows as the title of your article when google returns its results from a search). But more importantly, you’ve got to make a title that catches the reader’s attention so that he chooses your article over the others.

So in order to craft a good headline:

  1. Consider the keywords of your subject
  2. Consider what the visitor is looking for according to your subject
  3. Craft a title that fits what the visitor is looking for.

To reiterate, craft a title that reflects what people might be searching for it they wanted to find your content.

The Title Description should include sitename

Adding the sitename to the end of your title description for all of your posts & pages improves the branding of your website. The benefit is that if a visitor who saw your website before sees your brand again, he is more likely to choose your website in the search results (as long as your provide valuable content). You’ll also be seen as an authority (brand indicates an authority figure) and you may rank for long tail keywords with the sitename as one of the keywords.

Tell Google When You Update your Meta Descriptions

For proper SEO, you need to tell Google to register the changes that you made to your webpages; Whether it be that you added or change information in the content of your article, or the title & meta description. You can do this by telling Google to send a Google bot to index the updated webpage. This is how you do that:

Page Optimization SEO Checklist

What can I Check for the Homepage’s SEO?

Don’t nest the tags of your article headlines on your homepage ie. <h2> <span class=””> is incorrent, <h2 class=””> is correct.

Don’t use a pinterest like tags on your homepage. Google sees it like a directory, and therefore penalizes page rank. Better alternative is to use a top down newspaper patter. Make sure that the excerpt of each article has more than 20 words.

Hide branding.

Don’t link outwardly too much

I recently learned that Jetpack’s Photon image CDN prevents those images from being searchable. So disable Photon if you use Jetpack to improve your website’s search engine searchability. This may change later on, but you might want to double check if you want to use Photon.

How do I Optimize a Blogroll or Newspaper-like Feed?

If the posts of your website are related to each other, you can try WP-PageNavi, which adds optimized pagination links using the rel=prev and rel=next attributes. This plugin may require some code implementation, but the plugin developer provides all code needed.

Use Related Posts to Improve retention

Related posts at the end of the webpage helps the user quickly find similar content that he was originally looking for on the current webpage. Using related posts improves retention of the user on your website as well as reduce the bounce rate after the visitor is done reading. The retention and lower bounce rate are positive SEO signals that Google observes, and as a result improves your page rank.

Optimizing Website Backend SEO Checklist

You should:

  • Move all JavaScript to the end of the HTML & CSS code. That insures that the elements of your website loads first without having to wait for the JavaScript to load. This will improve website speed, in terms of what the visitor sees.
  • Optimally, move all the CSS code to the beginning of the webpage’s code script. That’s because CSS is responsible for the formatting of the webpage for the elements to load into.

Optimize Taxonomy & Archive SEO Checklist

In order to make sure that you do not have duplicate content indexed by Google, you should:

  • set to No-Index for Archive subpages
  • set to No-Index for Categories, Formats, Tags
  • set to No-Index for Author & Date Archives
    • Disable author archive completely if you do not have multiple authors

*Note that no-index means telling google not to index those webpages.

Notice that I’ve crossed out Categories and Tags to be set to No-Index. What happened is that I removed my sitename from the end of the title description, and set to No-Index for the tags and categories. After waiting like a week, I saw a significant drop in traffic. But after re-indexing the categories and tags, my traffic shot back up. So perhaps categories and tags may provide something of substance in accordance to the Google’s algorithm. It could also be that adding the sitename is a beneficial for SEO.


Did I miss an important SEO factor in this list? Please enlighten me with a comment below. Thanks for reading!

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