An SEO Checklist for 2019 is bound to be an invaluable tool if you’ve just launched your new website and blog. So far, no one is commenting, clicking, or subscribing as you’d hoped. In fact, all that you can hear is the sound of silence! Does that about sum things up?
So, does this mean you should pack it in and give up your dream?
But, how do you get the web traffic you need to make a go of this venture? There’s no quick fix for getting a steady flow of traffic to your blog. Rather, it’s a journey! You need a plan for reaching the right audience as efficiently as possible.
One of the best ways you can earn the traffic you need is by ranking your posts in Google. At least from this blogger’s perspective, few things are better than organic search traffic.
Firstly, it’s free. But far more importantly, it’s laser-targeted because the hook that’s pulling visitors to my blog is the keyword embedded in my quality content. In other words, I’m drawing people who are interested in my message.
Let’s explore the value of an SEO checklist a little further, shall we?
What is SEO Traffic?
SEO or search engine optimization encompasses all of the steps we take to make our websites more visible to people asking questions and seeking information through the search engines. SEO traffic is the reward for everything we do to make our sites appear in search results for the right keywords.
The highest ranking websites get the lion’s share of visitors. Therefore, you need SEO to ensure that you get your fair share of the pool of free or “natural” website traffic. So, having asked and answered the question, what is SEO traffic, we need a plan.
Let’s start by watching the video below because it contains an excellent overview of search engine optimization factors that we can then build upon.
The Path to SEO Traffic
Every online business needs to tap into the power of Google. Drawing in targeted traffic requires keeping your blog optimized at all times and relying on SEO best practices.
But, first and foremost, you need to develop a strong audience profile and then ensure that your content meets the needs of your reader persona. In other words, you must do your keyword research to identify the questions your audience is asking and then make sure that your content provides a comprehensive and thorough answer.
For newbie bloggers, the best approach is to rely on long-tail keywords. These are reader queries that take the form of longer phrases and are more specific. The search intent is more explicit making it easier to reach out to the right people and provide a thoughtful and detailed answer.
Here’s an example to chew on (okay, bad pun 🙂 )
Dog Training vs. How Do You Train a Puppy Not to Bite
Dog Training is a keyword that sees massive traffic of roughly 12,000 queries a month. Unfortunately, the competition is fierce with well over 200 sites competing for this term many of which are authority sites. Conversely, the long-tail query, how do you train a puppy not to bite, sees traffic of about 72 visitors a month. But there are only 16 competing sites, and the SEO score of this keyword is excellent.
The long-tail keyword is far easier to rank for due to less competition. But the overall advantages are far more significant than that. The specificity of this question enhances your ability to provide an actionable solution. With a little research, the post almost writes itself, doesn’t it?
Long-tail queries are also more “niche” in that they appeal to a narrower group of readers. You can tailor your responses and connect with this smaller market which ensures a better user experience, an increase in trust, and ultimately better conversions.
An SEO Checklist for 2019 – 9 Actionable Steps
Keywords are the lifeblood of SEO. These are the queries being asked in the search engines, and it is Google’s mission to serve up the best website posts in response to these searchers. But it’s not enough to publish a high-quality response to a targeted keyword.
To rank, you must optimize each and every post. SEO is an art that allows search engines to understand the content on your site. Do your posts and website have all the necessary ingredients for ranking success?
Step 1 – Use Keywords Wisely
Proper placement of keywords is crucially important if you want the search engines, and your prospective readers, to fully understand the purpose of your content. I’m also going to add one quick caveat here. When you select the focus keyword that your post will address, make sure you choose a grammatically correct phrase.
The grammar is essential because you want to use the exact phrasing of your keyword in multiple locations. So, of course, you need it to make sense and to contribute to an article that is easy to read and digest. Poor grammar does not convey an image of quality, right?
Once you’ve chosen the primary keyword that you will craft your content around, place your keyword in the following locations:
- The Title of Your Post
- The Meta Description for Your Post
- Early in the First Paragraph of Your Introduction
- The Alt Text Attribute for Your Featured Image
- The Summary or Conclusion for Your Post
The Title of Your Post
Your post title is what will appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Hence, you want to accomplish 2 things with your title. Firstly, you want to make your topic crystal clear which is why you include your keyword. It’s a best practice to insert the keyword as early in your title as possible.
Secondly, you want your blog headline to be enticing and clickable. So, give some thought to spicing up your title and creating curiosity that will draw in visitors.
The Meta Description for Your Post
By meta description, we mean the snippet of information that accompanies your title in the SERPs. This brief lead into your article is another opportunity to invoke interest that you shouldn’t ignore. Install an SEO plugin on your WordPress website so that you can author your own snippet.
All meta descriptions are limited to 160 characters. Consequently, you want to choose your characters wisely. If you fit in your keyword, it will appear in a bold text which is yet another opportunity to declare the intent of your post. I use Yoast as my SEO plugin, and I recommend this tool highly.
Alt Text Attributes
Alt text attributes are easy to forget but very important. When Googlebot crawls your site, it can’t view the actual images that are displayed. Entering alt text is the best way to describe any pictures. Your exact keyword should appear in one graphical element.
A good practice is to use keyword variations or synonyms for additional visuals.
Additional Benefits of Yoast SEO
Yoast will remind you of proper keyword placement, provide warnings if you’ve missed some spots, and also give you a readability analysis for your content. It’s like having a proofreader, and I appreciate that service!
The SEO analysis of Yoast will also calculate your keyword density. This plugin uses an easy to comprehend “traffic light” approach to assessing your writing. I don’t publish until I get overall green lights for both SEO and readability. The program suggests improvements that you can choose to make to increase your scores.
Here’s an example of a search engine result for a post I published a couple of months ago.
My article is targeting the keyword, Is Blogging Legit? As of the date of today’s post, I’m ranking in position 2 on Google page 1. I’ve added the yellow highlighting to point out that my keyword appears in the title, URL and meta description of this post. In other words, the intent of my offering is clear.
I’ve also taken the additional actions as discussed in this checklist. But first and foremost, I’ve written a little over 2,200 words that explicitly address questions and concerns of my target audience.
Let’s look at one more example before we move on. I have a post developed around the keyword How to Start a Home Decor Blog that is in the coveted featured snippet position. These are also referred to as “answer boxes.”
Step 2 – Create SEO-Friendly URLs
The URL for your blog posts, or perhaps I should say the “slug” portion of the URL, should contain your keyword. But more than that it should be structured in an easy to read format with hyphens separating the descriptive words. Defining the structure for the URLs on your site is also something that you can handle with Yoast.
I think we’ve all encountered URLs that are gibberish with a string of unrecognizable letters, numbers, and special characters rather than descriptive text. These Internet addresses appear spammy, and our natural inclination is to avoid them. So, take the time to set your URL preferences correctly.
Step 3 – Include Internal Links to Showcase Related Content on Your Site
Search engines find and index your content by crawling your website using Bots. The process entails following links, and you can help by creating hyperlinks between the various pages and posts on your site. These internal links serve multi-purposes and are beneficial for both Google and your readers.
Visitors who are drawn to your website to read one article can drill down and access additional related information. As useful content increases, people are more likely to stay longer and return to your site in the future. And, Google gets a clearer picture of the wealth of information and depth of knowledge available.
Every post should include at least one link to a related article on your site. More is fine if that’s appropriate.
Step 4 – Promote Link Diversity With External Links to Authority Sites
Google is all about providing the most relevant and comprehensive answers to searchers. Directing readers to authority sites sends a clear message that in addition to getting eyes on your own content, you want to help and supplement your own message with related materials.
Wikipedia can be a wonderful source of supplemental information on a wide range of topics. For example, it includes an entry on Googlebot, the web crawling software used by Google to traverse the web by following these external links.
Step 5 – Secure Your Site With SSL
Is anyone still wondering, does my website need SSL? There was a time when acquiring an SSL certificate was optional for informational sites that don’t take sensitive credit card information. But that’s no longer the case. Every site should be secured and using the https protocol.
Google announced back in 2014 that security was a ranking factor. Additionally, Google Chrome now displays a “not secure” message to anyone accessing a website without SSL. I strongly advise that you avoid freaking out your readers with this notification. 🙂
Step 6 – Closely Monitor Your Page Loading Speed
Site speed is definitely a ranking factor and it’s something that has the ability to influence other important metrics as well. The dwell time on your site and your bounce rate will be negatively impacted by a slow loading webpage. Readers simply do not have the patience to wait and will bail in favor of a speedy site.
But at the end of the day, the biggest factor impacting your site speed is your hosting provider. I have managed WordPress hosting that is lightning fast and it makes all the difference. Read on to see my web hosting recommendations.
Step 7 – Mobile-Friendly is Critical
As of January 2018, there were 3.7 billion mobile Internet users worldwide and those numbers are increasing.. Make sure your theme is responsive and adapts to different devices including tablets and smartphones. Google sees mobile as the wave of the future and will rank your stuff accordingly.
Step 8 – Encourage and Demonstrate Engagement
Google definitely likes to see evidence of engagement and interaction in the form of commenting. A best practice is to include a call-to-action (CTA) to encourage comments and the sharing of experiences and questions by your readers.
As a webmaster, you can demonstrate your interest and concern for the needs of readers by responding to all inquiries. Your responses to questions that arise from your audience represent an exceptional opportunity to add to the length of your content, to address any perceived gaps in your initial article, and to rank for even more keywords.
Step 9 – Submit Every Post Using Search Console
Chances are that Google will eventually find and index each new post you add to your blog roll. But why wait and risk having published content that no one is viewing because it’s not yet included in Google’s database?
If you haven’t yet set up your account in Google Search Console, you will want to do that ASAP. Going forward, use the URL Inspection tool in your Console account to submit each new post for indexing immediately upon publication. In this manner, you can encourage Google to crawl your site and update its database immediately.
Being indexed doesn’t guarantee that your post will rank or appear in the SERPs. But the converse is true meaning that if you’re not indexed you have absolutely no hope of being found in search. Submission now makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
How to Learn SEO: For Beginners
If you’re new to the blogging world and the online space, I can understand why you might be finding some of this just a little bit overwhelming. There is a good solution to trying to figure out all of this SEO ranking stuff on your own.
For three years now, I’ve been hosting my site with a premier online training platform called Wealthy Affiliate. I promised you early in the post that I would share my recommendation for blazing fast hosting. But WA has far more to offer than that.
Learn to SEO with the pros and get a jump on the competition by using Jaaxy, the best keyword research tool available. SEO is a hot topic of conversation in both the Online Entrepreneur Certification training program and the live weekly Webinars.
Here’s an example of a recent webinar where Jay Neill, a WA super affiliate, walked the community through everything he does to get his posts ranked on Page 1. As you can tell by the ranking stars, Jay’s presentation was awesome!
Click the banner below to create a free, no-risk Starter Membership today that will tell you everything you need to know about the quality of training at WA, the hosting advantages, and the benefits of membership in WA’s extensive and active community.
Can you now see the tremendous value in an SEO checklist for 2019? Search engine optimization has to be an integral component of any Internet marketing strategy because it drives traffic from the search engines to your site.
We all want to achieve more clicks and a better conversion rate in 2019, right? And, we can do that if we focus on meeting the needs of our prospective customers and then conscientiously tick off each item on our SEO to do list.
Join the Conversation
Do you have any tips to add to this SEO checklist for 2019 and hopefully beyond? If so, we’re all ears. Please jump into the comments below and share your tips!