You can use the content of this article as an SEO checklist for 2020. I started doing SEO about 5 years ago and the rough concept is still the same, but every year there are new things to consider. This post will be split into 2 parts:
- SEO checklist for your entire website
- SEO checklist for each article
I noticed that many experts don’t make this difference when talking about SEO, but for me, these are 2 separate topics to tackle. So, let’s dive into it.
Introduction to SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a very important part of online marketing. There are a lot (actually not thaaat many) factors that Google looks at, to decide which results to show first in their search engine. Of course let’s not forget other search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, what else is there? 😀
But Google is still the leading search engine (might change in future, who knows)… and if you optimize your web content for Google it will also be ranked in the other search engines.
Different types of SEO
When you do research about SEO you will encounter the following words. Before we go into details I would like to mention these different types, so you know what they mean.
Black-hat vs. White-Hat
Black-hat SEO is being the “bad” guy. There are methods you can use to get a higher rank on Google, which are against the terms… To be honest, back in the days when I started out I tried out a lot of these black-hat methods and I have to say it is fun to see results with these methods. The thing is, you will see results quicker, but they will be gone also quicker. If you want to try out black-hat methods, do it with testing sites or sites you don’t really care about. Maybe I will create an Amazon Affiliate Niche site one day to show you these kinds of methods 😉 Anyways, I don’t recommend black-hat methods for serious sites, it will hurt you long-term… buuut it can be worthwhile to check out these methods, there is a lot you can learn.
If you are interested in how to make money with affiliate marketing, check out Introduction to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners.
Well, and white-hat SEO would then be basically the opposite of black-hat. Follow certain rules and see results also long-term. There is also a grayish area, where you will find some methods like creating PBNs (Private Blog Networks).
On-page vs. Off-page
This is a very important difference and basically divides SEO methods into things you can do directly on your website (change titles, keyword density …) and things you can do outside of your website (guest blogging, backlinking, …).
Myself I prefer to focus on On-page SEO since that is directly under my control and put just a little bit of effort into Off-page SEO. Depending on how old your website is and on certain values like domain authority, doing great On-page SEO can already have a biiiig impact on your rankings.
SEO checklist for 2020 – Part 1
In this SEO checklist, I will tell you about the factors and methods that I usually do when setting up a new website, or let’s say when you start caring about SEO, these should be the things to fix first for your entire website.
This has quite a big impact. The best way to tackle this is to go to PageSpeed Insight, type in your URL, and check what issues your site has and fix them!
There can be various issues with your site and for each problem, Google has a proposed solution. Take issue for issue and fix them one by one. My site has for example a score of 90. It’s not perfect, but I already put in some effort to improve it.
If you are using WordPress these plugins can help with fixing some issues:
Google Search Console
If you want to get traffic from Google and understand how Google sees your website, make sure to set up Google Search Console. Go through each tab on the left side and regularly check if there are any issues with your site. You can also analyze which keywords you are already getting traffic. For example, I started getting traffic from Google at the beginning of this month:
Make sure that your images are small. By small I mean the file size. If this is a problem on your site, you will see it in the Google Page Speed test. Make sure to fix this for all of your pictures and don’t upload not optimized pictures in future.
Why is this important? If an image is very big, this means that the visitors device has to download that picture. Do you like websites that take a long time to load? No, and so don’t others and because of that this is a very important factor for Google.
I use the plugin reSmush.it for this, which optimizes the image file sizes automatically.
If you don’t want to do these optimizations yourself you could go over to Fiverr and hire someone to do this for you -> My Fiverr Website Review
SEO checklist for 2020 – Part 2
Just to mention it, of course, there are also other things that you can do to improve your site, like for example how you structure it and so on. In this article, I want to mention the most important things and give you hints on how you can solve them very easily.
Now to the second part of the SEO checklist: things you should consider for every page or post you create.
This is one of the aspects that has brought me the most success. I am quite good at finding good keywords to use. The trick is to find low competition keywords that work well with your site. Yes, for example “SEO checklist for 2020” is the keyword I am going for in this article. See what I did there? I now even included the keyword one more time in the content naturally.
For keyword research, I wrote another article: How to get ranked on Google with good keyword research
Use your keyword
Now that you found a keyword you want to rank for… what do you do with it?
- Have the keyword in the URL
- Have the keyword in your main title
- Use the keyword in the first 150 word
- Use your keyword throughout your content
Another great plugin that will help you with on-page optimization is Yoast SEO. I highly recommend it.
Title tag & meta description
This is basically what is shown on Google. You can separately define your title and meta description. It doesn’t have to be the same as your H1 title.
What should you write? Let Google explain what they would like:
“A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”
Click Through Rate (CTR)
This is basically related to the point before. When writing a title and meta description also think about: Would I click on it? Even if you would get on page 1 of Google somehow, but your descriptions bad and nobody clicks on it… your rank will fall. Why? Because there is no point in showing a website no one wants to go to. So, also have this in mind! CTR is very important.
Why is this important? What does this have to do with SEO? Well, let’s say you did all the things mentioned above perfectly. Hundreds of users come to your site through Google, but they immediately leave, because your content is not satisfying. How do you think will this impact your rank?
Now when I say quality content I mean it should be valuable for the reader and the content should be more than 900 words. Longer articles rank statistically speaking better.
Let me make a comparison with YouTube: What YouTube channels get a lot of traffic? Those with a lot of watch-time. And Google looks basically at the same thing. If a person stays on your site for a long time, this means they like your website, which means that probably other people will also like your website and your rank will improve. (a little trick to achieve this: embed videos ;))
Another simple thing to do to improve your SEO score is to link to your own content. As I did in this article! If I have relevant content on my website, why not link it in another article? Internal linking can have quite a big impact. There are also more technical aspects to it, that the link juice is carried over.
Use internal links, there is nothing wrong with that, the opposite.
External links (backlinks)
Once you will rank for low competition keywords you might also want to rank for more competitive keywords. In that case, back-links will become even more important. I will tell you about one strategy that takes effort but is worth it. Analyze the competitors that are ranking for the keyword. Analyze where their backlinks are coming from and use the same sources! You might have to write to owners of certain websites and reach out, but this is the only way how you will have true success. Of course there will be also backlink opportunities where you maybe can just write a thoughtful comment and link back to your website.
Just to be clear, there are a lot of other aspects to SEO, like for example when you create a link what anchor text to use, and so on. This article is a way for me to show you how big the topic SEO is and to give you a good overview. Now it’s up to you to take this SEO checklist and tackle every single point. Never just read one article about a topic, do your research and see what others that are successful are saying about this topic.
2 experts I can recommend are:
If after reading this article SEO sounds too complex for you I can give you 2 solutions: Got to the “About me” page and contact me and we can figure out a proposal where I can do SEO for your website for a monthly rate oooor check out these 5 ways how to get traffic for free
Hope you enjoyed reading this article and you learned something new! Let me know in the comments what topic you would like me to explain in more detail 🙂
Thank you for this! I have always been a little bit lost when it comes to white-hat SEO… in your personal opinion, do you think black-hat actually brings in more quick traffic than white-hat? Or is that gray area where you’ll find the best results?
To be honest, I tried out a lot of black-hat methods and yes, you get quicker results. The thing is, in the future your site could then be penalized because of that. So, for real businesses I would never recommend it or for your own personal blog. If you want to create a separate small site to test those methods out, go for it, but get ready for penalties and bans 😀
Gray-hat is definitely interesting. There are also SEO agencies that use these methods and they are okay, for now.
For long-term secure success go for white-hat 🙂
Very in-depth article. Thanks for the great explanation. Will definitely start using your tips and work a bit on the SEO topics of my site. I heard of it before, but never fully understood how I can take action, so thanks!
Thanks, it’s great to here that somebody can actually use this SEO checklist 🙂
Thanks for this great checklist! I also follow Neil Patel, he has some great stuff about SEO and conversion in general.
Yeah, he is great for online marketing in general and has very good inputs for SEO.
A good way to build authority and trust. My compliments. I agree with your Yoast advice. It is great. Makes me thinking.
Thanks Jack 🙂 Yeah Yoast SEO is great for on-page SEO. The best way to do SEO (and probably the only way) is to analyze what your competitors are doing and to find out what is working for them.