Keeping up with Google's algorithms is a full-time job. In the past year it's cracked down on ad-heavy content (Fred), shaken up local search results (Possum), and completely changed how websites are indexed (mobile-first indexing).
If you forgot to tend to your technical SEO while you were busy surviving Google algorithm updates, I could hardly blame you. Fortunately, there's no time like the present to double-check your site health and conduct an SEO audit.
This checklist will run you through all the technical SEO fundamentals you need in place in the year ahead.
1. Install essential tools
Your ability to improve your SEO hinges on your tools' ability to find and fix technical problems. Here are the absolute essentials you'll need:
- Google Analytics: Track website traffic and gain insight into your visitors.
- Google Search Console: Measure site performance and errors. If you're targeting US markets, you might also want to sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Yoast SEO plugin (if you're using WordPress): Optimize your content, metadata, sitemap, keywords, and more(must have for WordPress sites).
- An SEO auditing tool: I'll be using my tool, WebSite Auditor.
Those tools are the absolute bare minimum for improving your technical SEO.
You won't need anything else to follow along in this article, but if you feel you've reached your limit with Google's free tools and you want to step up your SEO game, I highly recommend you consider tools that will let you dig deeper into your analytics. There are a ton of options, so you're sure to find something that suits your needs.
Consider your needs and your budget, and then look for software that lets you...
- Monitor your link health, find and fix broken links, and discover new link-building opportunities.
- Correct more errors, such as 404/500 error pages, faulty redirects, W3C validation errors, etc.
- Perform deeper keyword analysis and optimize for all rankings, including local and geo-specific.
- Discover content errors such as thin content, duplicate content, canonicalization errors, etc.
- Spy on your competitors and compare backlinks, anchor text, etc.