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Today, just about anyone can create a new website on any topic and gather a team around it to develop and grow the site through content.

But many people fail to get on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) because they believe it's just about content, rather than also doing keyword research, creating a semantic kernel, making the website mobile friendly, or even putting the right alt text for images, and so on.

The following list is an SEO checklist of actions that you need to take to optimize your website for search engines.

Step 1: Use Google Webmaster Tools

If you want your website to rank well in Google search, you really need to use this service. It will give you all the data, tools, and diagnostics you need to create a friendly website for users and for search engines.

Step 2: Install Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one the most popular analytics services, and it's absolutely free. Use it to measure the traffic of your website, the demographics of the visitors, the content they're most interested in, their navigational behavior while on your site, and many other factors that you need to consider to organically grow your website.

Step 3: Use Bing Webmaster Tools and submit your website to Yahoo Search Engine to be indexed

Yes, there are users on the Internet who use Bing and Yahoo. Just because you don't use them doesn't mean your potential customers or visitors don't.

Step 4: Create the semantic kernel of your website

Think of the semantic kernel as a list of all the keywords (long- and short-tail) that people are searching on the Web in your site's particular area of interest.

Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner (or other tools) to research what the issues and keywords are that your potential visitors are searching for, and create awesome content that suits their needs. Don't ignore long-tail keywords, as they can get you more segmented and targeted traffic from search engines.

Step 5: Research your competitors' links

Want to start a link-building campaign? First check your competitor's links to generate an overview of of your competitors. Consider using Ahrefs.com, Majestic SEO, and Backlink Watch.

Step 6: Create pages/accounts for your company/brand/website on the social networks that your potential customers and visitors use

Nowadays, every brand and company has to be present on all the right social networks. It's a must for reputation management, PR... and for our SEO checklist. Below is a list of social networks with the type of URL your page or account needs to use:

  • http://www.twitter.com/your-company-brand-name
  • http://www.facebook.com/your-company-brand-name
  • http://www.youtube.com/user/your-company-brand-name
  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/your-company-brand-name
  • http://your-company-brand-name.tumblr.com/
  • http://pinterest.com/your-company-brand-name
  • http://about.me/your-company-brand-name
  • http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/your-company-brand-name
  • http://www.scribd.com/your-company-brand-name
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/your-company-brand-name

Step 7: Create a Google Plus user profile for you company or brand

Sharing links from your website on Google+ will have an impact on your search rankings. If a person is following a specific profile on Google+, the probability that that person will see the profile's posts/links in SERPs will be higher.

Step 8. Check your URLs and make them user- and SEO-friendly

URLs should be user-friendly and "clean," with relevant keywords; they should be well-written:

  • Good URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany
  • Bad URL: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IO9PBPS/ref=s9_al_gw_g201_i2/183-1385515-9300632?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0DX2C7TDTZRF53NZ2C1Q&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1969991562&pf_rd_i=507846

Step 9. Check your website on Page Speed Insights and optimize it accordingly

Google Page Speed Insights is an important tool on our SEO checklist. It helps us to test and improve the performance of you website in mobile and desktop versions.

Step 10. Check your website for duplicate content using CopyScape

This is an important issue in SEO, although Google has said that websites would rarely be penalized for duplicate content, unless it detects ill intent. You need only worry about it if you use keyword stuffing and spam duplicate content.

Step 11. Check your 404 and 500 error messages using the Google Webmaster Tools

Step 12. Optimize your images

Use descriptive file names with specific keywords, post high-quality images, optimize their file sizes, and add good alt text for each of them.

Step 13. Craft your Robots.txt file and XMLSitemap for search engines

On Google Support you can easily create the Robots.txt file of your website. Also you must use XML-Sitemaps.com so that Google will properly crawl, find, and index your website.

Step 14. Submit your Website to Niche Websites

Submitting your website to local and niche pages and websites will improve your rankings in SERPs. (Here you can find some good niche websites and platforms for your specific segment or industry.)

Step 15. Make your website SEO mobile-friendly

Today, millions of Web users are surfing the Web using smartphones and tablets. So if you want to get great user experience and user engagement on your website... make it mobile! If your website doesn't work well on smartphones or tablets, you can forget about increasing traffic—and ranking high in SERPs.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eugene Dediu is CEO and co-founder of SEOforce.