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seo strategies

SEO Checklist for WordPress Designers

watercolor sketch of website layouts

Combining the technical aspects of search engine optimization with a user friendly website – THAT WOWS – is an unbeatable combination. I partner with web designers to deliver not just another website…but websites that attract the right people at the right time.

Here is a brain dump, the “SEO checklist” I use when working with a designer to optimize WordPress websites. Broken into levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. This is dependent on how much a client needs help with and the competitiveness of their market.

Note: Many of these will apply to any content management system: WordPress, Shopify, Hubspot, etc.

Should I do Video Tutorials of each step? Have I missed a pre-launch or early launch step that has been a game changer for you? Send me a note – or comment below.

Basic SEO

  • Site Structure
    • Pass the “white paper test” Write the site structure down on a white piece of paper – does it make sense? Would someone know what this website is about? Can they easily reach the desired conversion in 3 clicks?
  • Search Friendly URLs
    • Short, concise, descriptive.
    • Choose www or non-www (I prefer non-www shorter url)
      1. Settings > General
  • Favicon
    • These display in search so one that really pops for the client’s branding.
  • Sitemaps
    • Create and submit to top search engines, like Google and Bing.
    • XML for pages, for posts and for images and video if relevant.
  • Install Google Analytics
    • Attach Search Console: Google
    • Attach Webmaster Tools: Bing
    • *Client should track conversions, have forms sent to a thank you page and add that /custom-thank-you-page to Analytics as a conversion.
  • Install SEO plugin (RankMath)
  • Install Caching plugin (WPRocket)
  • Check Site is Not Blocking Search Engines
    • Settings > Reading
    • Be sure important pages are not accidentally blocking search engines.
    • Any pages you would not like indexed should include a noindex tag in the <head> of that particular page. Robots.txt will not work.
  • Remove any placeholder content pages.
  • Update permalink settings
    • Settings > PermaLinks
    • My preference is /%postname%/
  • Block spam comments
    • Set Comments to be reviewed first.
  • Enable Social media sharing

Intermediate SEO

  • Optimize SEO plugin
  • Detailed Keyword research to provide the best positioning in search.
  • OnPage Optimization of main nav pages
    • Meta
    • H tags
    • Content recommendations

Advanced SEO

  • Image optimization 
    • This is a long topic and deserves it’s own post but to summarize the important things here are to compress the image, customize the file name/url and include descriptive alt text. Alt text is good for SEO but it’s main purpose is to help screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers. Please keep that in mind and use appropriately.
    • *IMP – Before beginning your site build, deactivate the year/month format. This will pull the file names as your image url. Unfortunately, this does not fix past urls only new ones after updated.
    • Lazy Loading
      • Most important for heavy visual websites like photographers, before/after type business like plastic surgeons/orthodontists and ecommerce.
  • Recommend a list of directory listings: high DA
    • Backlinks are an important authority factor for SEO. In addition to keeping URLs search friendly – keep them link friendly! Short and descriptive. 
    • Recommend a list of high domain authority sites in the niche to get them started.
  • Schema Markup
    • Deserves it’s own post. Google webmaster tools has a data highlighter tool (yes! It’s back) that is great. 
    • Basics would be organization for the homepage and article for the blogs. FAQ for question/answer posts. Speakable is really cool!

Would you like Video Tutorials of each step? Send me your email and I’ll be sure to let you know when the videos go live.

What did I miss? Please add any early launch steps that have been a game changer for you in the comments below.