Every Integrated Marketing professional knows that SEO is, right after having a website, the most important work a business needs to undertake to be found online by its customers.
It is also the key to keeping online advertising costs as low as possible. Anyone can be at the top of Google results for their selected keywords if they´re ready to pay through the nose. SEO is about doing the kind of work that, over time, ensures that they don´t have to pay through the nose; because that´s just gross.
Of course, and as with anything in life not given on a silver platter, it is an ongoing process that takes time and effort to see results. So, unless a business owner decides to do this work instead of working on their actual business, the logical step is to hire a professional.
This article is for entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized business owners who want to know what the main SEO tactics for success are and what are the best tools to use, so they can be on top of the work that is meant to be carried out. It is also a checklist for other Integrated Marketing professionals, whether they are in charge of SEO or overseeing the work and performance of the SEO specialist/s in their team.
The Top SEO and Content Research Tool in the Market
The number one tool SEO professionals and agencies use is Semrush. It covers most of the tactics I´m giving you, below, providing the most in-depth actionable information whilst significantly saving time. It comes with many useful features including competitor and content analysis and more.
Not cheap but it is a worthy beast. It is my favourite SEO and SEM tool by far.
Plus you can do many things with a simple free sign-up account such as perform keyword research and competitor analysis, run a technical analysis of your site, track keyword rankings and audit your local listings among others.
Though for business owners and SEO or Integrated Marketing agencies (who for some strange reason are not already using this tool) I recommend to trial the Pro or Guru plans for 7 days to unlock all of its power and capabilities.
Please note that some of the recommended tools in this article contain affiliate links, which means that I get a teeny tiny commission if you purchase any of them via my link. Nevertheless, these are tools I use or have used and which I sought to affiliate with. If you´re a peer professional or have an integral marketing agency you already know these recommendations are golden.
So, without any further blah blah blah, here´s your SEO checklist to steadily go to the top and remain on top.
Best SEO Tactics Checklist
1. Conduct keyword research to use relevant keywords in your content.
I know, everybody and their cousin are aware of this by now but you would be surprised by how often it´s overlooked in favour of a more easily flowing text. This is the part where, reminded of this fact, I must include some relevant keywords. Some of the best tools for keyword research to keep content optimised and outrank competitors (see what I did there in bold?) are Ahrefs´.
Ahrefs Webmaster Tools
This tool helps find low-hanging keywords, which are keywords that have low competition but high search volume.
Ahrefs SERP Checker
This nifty feature analyses your chosen keywords’ traffic potential.
Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty
Here´s where you find out a keyword’s ranking difficulty and, most importantly, what would you need to have or do to overcome it, such as the amount of backlinks you´d have to acquire.
Avoid stuffing your content with keywords, though, as this is not only a sign of poor quality content but Google´s algorithm also detects and penalises this as a black-hat practice, thus producing the opposite results you were after.
2. Optimise your website’s meta-titles and descriptions with relevant keywords.
If your business or employer is using the WordPress CMS for the company´s website, the best WordPress plugin for SEO to aid you with this work, without a doubt, is:
In my opinion AIOSEO is better than Yoast. Easy to use yet and with advanced AI features such as ChatGPT integration, it is perfect for both a WordPress site and a Woocommerce store as well as both global and local SEO. It has a free plan through which you can test some its features but the Basic plan is also extremely economical and unlocks most of its potential.
3. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and has a responsive design.
We call responsive design that which fluidly adapts to a variety of devices and screen sizes. Remember to always check that your site is fully and easily navigable on all the main browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Opera GX, Safari, Microsoft Edge) as well as on different mobile devices and OS.
4. Improve your website’s loading speed.
5. Use internal linking to connect pages within your website.
If your website has a blog, use a Related Posts feature or link to related posts within your posts. If you have an online store, link related products. Same goes for services.
6. Build high-quality backlinks from reputable sources.
Google´s search algorithm favours distance, prominence and relevance. One way to achieve prominence is by getting established websites to link to your site. Some of the best tactics to create quality backlinks include collaborating with experts related to your business as well as complementary big brands and influencers, reaching out to journalists in HARO, guest posting for high-traffic blogs relevant to your products and/or services or writing on platforms such as Medium.
7. Create high-quality, original content that provides value to your audience.
The greatest way to attract traffic and build earned prominence is by creating shareable original visual content such as infographics, conducting and publishing valuable research, providing a free tool or providing information that can be helpful to others.
8. Use header tags (H1, H2, H3) to structure your content.
Your website platform should include a way to use these tags easily when you´re writing your content. Use H1 for the main title / page name, H2 to head the main blocks of your organised text, H3 for subtitles, and so on and so forth till the end of blogging.
9. Optimise your images by using descriptive file names and alt text.
And if you use related keywords for those names and alt text, all the better.
10. Ensure that your website has a clear and easy-to-use navigation.
Also, provide clear CTAs (calls to action) but, at the same time, do not overload every page with CTAs competing for attention. I know, it is a fine delicate balance.
11. Use social media to promote your content and engage with your audience.
This is also an obvious one but what is not so obvious is that it´s best to focus on just the social media channels your target audiences use and avoid the temptation to be everywhere, dissipating energy, efforts and money on channels that won´t deliver you actual customers.
12. Optimise your website for local search by including your business address and phone number.
Plus make sure to add keywords in your content that includes the cities where you operate where it makes sense to do so.
13. Monitor and respond to customer reviews and feedback.
There are several paid online and social media listening tools that will alert you of any mentions, which are very useful if you get to a point where these are of considerable volume. One tool you can use for free in the meantime is Google Alerts. Set an alert with the name of your business or employer´s brand as your keyword and an email account you check daily and if someone mentions it, you will receive an alert there.
14. Use Google Business Profile to manage your online presence and appear in local search results.
One way to get customer reviews and feedback and generally improve your local SEO is to sign up for a Google Business Profile. Fill it with your products / services, events and offers and keep it regularly updated.
15. Implement schema markup to provide search engines with additional information about your website.
Schema markup is a special HTML code that helps search engine crawlers determine what your content is about so it can be indexed accurately. If your website is built with WordPress, again AIOSEO – All In One SEO is your tool for this purpose. Otherwise, if you are comfortable with HTML and altering your website´s source code, you can use Schema.org, a tool created by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
16. Use Google Analytics to track and analyse your website’s performance.
It will help you discover what sources are directing the most traffic to your website, what content is performing poorly and which is performing best, among many other things. Unless you have the knowledge, you will need specialist certified in Google Analytics to set the appropriate tags for advance and granular tracking plus easy at-a-glance monitoring and reporting on Looker Studio.
17. Use Google Search Console to monitor and optimise your website’s presence in search results.
Google Search console is a free tool that will tell you what search terms people used to arrive at your website and what page / content they consumed plus how well your site is performing on mobile, among other things.
18. Optimise your website’s URL structure to make it more user-friendly and easier for search engines to crawl.
A good practice is to plan your website hierarchy structure beforehand, especially if it will be served in different languages for markets in multiple locations.
Also, get rid of the www and always use an HTTPS protocol (acquired with an SSL certificate which your hosting provider may offer). Use permalinks that use the page or post / product name, use keywords and keep the name as short as possible and use hyphens to separate words.
19. Use long-tail keywords to target specific, niche audiences.
Gen-Z users particularly love long-tail keywords. They have grown using Google so they know how to obtain the best results for a particular search. For example, instead of typing on the search engine “SEO tips” they are more likely to type “top SEO tactics to increase traffic and sales”, “best SEO tools to improve your website´s organic traffic”, “how to improve your website´s SEO” or “top tactics to improve a (business niche) SEO”.
20. Regularly update your website with fresh, relevant content to keep it current and engaging.
One way to produce content that is relevant and current is answering the questions your target audience is actually asking. A great tool to use in this instance is AnswerThePublic.
End of Checklist