SEO Checklist: How to do it right the first time

SEO Checklist: How to do it right the first time

If you are a web designer, or you own your own site(s), you already know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is complex and constantly changing.

That is why SEO professionals are usually different from the Web Design stars. And why many site owners hire SEO pros, even if they build their own website.

Also, SEO involves many different activities. Many of them off page. Tasks like link building, directories, search engines, etc.

That being said, there are several things a web designer can do to set a site up for SEO success. These are items which will save SEO costs in the long run. And set the page up to be found and ranked by the search engines.

When I create a new page, or I hire a web designer to create a page for me, I make sure that at a minimum, the below checklist is followed.

It saves a lot of cost, time and redesign later on. Any web page that does not have all these items checked will be sent back. And the designer will not get any work sent his way in the future.

There are exceptions to every rule, but in general …



The title is one of the most important items on the page as far as SEO is concerned. The title of every page should contain:

·         Brand or Company Name

·         Keywords. Each page should be optimized for 1 – 3 keywords. They should appear here, and only once each.

·         Length. Not to long and not too short.

·         As high on the page as possible. Technically, these should be the first item in the head tag, but sometimes that is impossible.

[ ] Description

This is less important for search engine ranking than it used to be. But it is very important on the search engine results page (SERP). This is what people read, your first impression, when your site is found. Make it sound good for humans, but do include your keywords, one time each.

[ ] Keywords Meta Tag

Ok, yes I know Google doesn't look at these any more, and other search engines give them less value than they used to. But, they serve as a reference in the future when doing other SEO activities. Checks like keyword density, link text, etc. This is even more important if the SEO person didn't design the page.

[ ] Headings

Make sure the headings of your page H1, H2 and H3 contain your keywords. Don't over use them, but make sure there is at least one with each of the 1 – 3 keywords you are focusing on.

[ ] ALT Attributes

If there are images on the page, make sure the first few ALT tags on the page contain the keyword.

[ ] Links

At least one link and not more than 2, on the page should contain the keyword. This can be links to other pages on your site, external pages or even anchors on the same page. The content will determine where these should point.

[ ] Bold Keywords

Make sure that some of your keywords are bold. In this case, using a <b> tag is probably better than the <strong> tag.

[ ] Keyword Weight, Prominence and Frequency

This is the topic for another article. Actually it is the topic of several books. But, in general you want to use your keywords often, but not too often. If you use it slightly more than you would in a conversation, you should be OK. Also, they should be used at the beginning and end of your content. Search engines give greater weight to keywords in those locations.

[ ] Page Length

Search engines don't give much value to pages that are less than about 150 – 200 words. Any shorter than that and they don't contain enough content to be valuable.

[ ] No “Black Hat” SEO

This is another long discussion, but a page with keyword spamming, links or text the same color as the background will be rejected immediately.

You web designer and your SEO expert is seldom the same person. But, you don't want the extra cost of SEO staff needing to completely redo all of the content on your page.

If you are doing your own site, you want your page to be written right the first time. That way, as links are built back to your site, search engines will know how to classify your page.

By following this simple checklist, your site will already be better setup for search engine success than 80% of the websites out there.

And isn't that what you want? To have more traffic than any of your competitors?

Search Engine Optimization is part art, part science and part magic. And off site factors can be even more important than what is on the page.

But, by following the simple rules in this checklist, your SEO efforts will be off to a great start.