SEO Best Practices: A Checklist for 2021

Insights / 02.05.2021
Alex Ontko / Senior SEO Specialist

6/15/2023 10:51:23 PM Red Door Interactive http://www.reddoor.biz Red Door Interactive
Written by Brian Gille, SEO Specialist, 06.08.2016
Updated by Alex Ontko, Sr. SEO Specialist, 02.05.2021

An SEO Checklist for 2021

Developing an SEO strategy in 2021 takes time and is unique for every business. And if you’re new to the world of organic search, it can be hard to determine where you should start.

Enter the SEO checklist. Not only are checklists an easy way to stay organized, but we’ve put together one filled with SEO tips and best practices to help you get started.

Our checklist is below, but read on for details about each step:

Your SEO Checklist for 2021

  • Outline a Goal

  • Set up Analytics to Measure Your KPI’s

  • Perform Keyword Research

  • Optimize Your Content

  • Perform a Technical Audit

  • Link Outreach & Social Sharing

  • Test, Measure, Adapt

Outline a Goal

Determining the goal of your SEO program, or any business initiative for that matter, is key to its success. If you don’t have a target to aim for, then you can’t effectively develop a strategy that works to achieve your objectives.

Your goals should be easily measured with a primary KPI outlined at the beginning of your strategy. It’s great to have secondary KPIs that ladder up into the final metric, but having a primary goal can provide direction when determining where it’s best to spend your time.

Be aggressive with your goals but not unrealistic. Challenge yourself and your team to outdo themselves without making the goals unachievable. A few examples of SEO goals include:

  • Grow non-brand clicks by 15%

  • Improve conversions by 6%

  • Earn backlinks from 15 domains with a Domain Authority over 60

  • Improve our page speed by 15%

Set up Analytics to Measure Your KPI’s​

There are several analytics tools you can use to track the performance of your site – the most common being Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. You should evaluate each of these tools to understand which one may best suit your needs.

In addition to an analytics platform, you will want to set up Google Search Console to track clicks and impressions. You can learn more about how to do that here.
Additionally, a keyword tracking tool can be a great way to track how your site is ranking and how effective your optimizations are performing. We recommend and partner with BrightEdge, but there are plenty of other great tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs.

Perform Keyword Research

If your goal revolves around creating new content or making content updates to existing pages, performing keyword research is the first step. We recommend assigning 3-4 target keywords with one “primary” keyword that the secondary keywords support.

Each page should have a unique set of target keywords. This keeps pages on your site from competing in the search engine results. When pages from the same domain compete with each other, it is called keyword cannibalization and can prevent your site from ranking.

Begin Optimizing Your Content

Evaluating the SERP (search engine result page) for your target keywords will give you an idea of how to optimize. Take a look at what is ranking and see if you can identify common themes. Is it mostly product pages or informative content? Are there videos or a rich result? Note what is performing well and see what you can do to outrank them.

Once you have determined your target keywords and evaluated the SERP’s, it’s time to start writing! You should work your keywords into each page’s title, meta description, headings, and body copy in a natural but consistent way. Test how various changes affect your site's rankings and see what works best for you.

Perform a Technical Audit

Ensuring your site is following technical SEO best practices is essential for the long-term performance of your site. If Google can’t crawl or understand your content, then it’s like it isn’t even there.

Technical audits can come in a variety of shapes and sizes but at a minimum, it is important to evaluate mobile performance and content crawlability.

If you lack the time or experience to take on a larger technical audit, there are a few tools you can use that will help you get your site into a good place:

  • Google Lighthouse – a great tool from Google that evaluates individual pages

  • SEMRush – a robust, all-around SEO platform that can track keywords, evaluate technical performance, and perform high-level backlink audits

  • Screaming Frog – the SEO tool that every SEO Specialist needs. Great for crawling your site, exporting reports, and uncovering even the smallest technical SEO problems

  • BrightEdge – a fantastic keyword tracking platform and with their Site Audit tool you can find and uncover technical issues with your site

At Red Door, we perform an extremely robust technical audit to uncover issues both large and small. If you are interested in having one of our SEO professionals perform a full technical audit of your site, be sure to get in touch!

Link Outreach & Social Sharing

Once you have the basics covered you can start sharing your site with the world. Developing a social media strategy that highlights the updates you have made and the content you are creating can be a great way to gain exposure.  

Furthermore, a link outreach strategy can help you build authority by earning backlinks to your content while fostering relationships with colleagues and industry partners.

Test, Measure, Adapt

After you’ve made your initial set of updates, it’s vital to measure and evaluate performance. Not every optimization or tactic you employ is going to work but it’s important to evaluate why something may not have worked and test other ways to achieve success.

See if adding Schema to your product pages improves click-through rates. Try changing your value proposition when asking for backlinks to see if you get a better response rate. The number of tactics you can use in an SEO strategy are numerous and each site will respond differently.

It’s up to you to find out what works best for your site by testing new tactics, measuring performance, and adapting based on your findings.

An SEO Checklist for Any Site

We hope this SEO checklist helps kickstart your SEO strategy for 2021 and beyond! Still not sure where to start? Let’s talk! Our team of seasoned professionals is here to help. We’d love to explore your brand’s organic search opportunities and share our full suite of SEO services.

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