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Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

If you’re trying to find an exact, step-by-step SEO checklist that you can use immediately, you’re going to love this post.

It’s a very direct, straightforward process that will drive more traffic and more customers to your website as quickly as possible.

In fact, this is the exact process we used to increase our organic traffic

Page Contents

SEO Checklist 2021

  1. On-Page SEO Element
  2. SEO Basic
  3. Keyword Research Checklist
  4. On-Page SEO Checklist 2021
  5. Link Building Checklist
  6. Technical SEO Checklist

Why is on-page SEO important?

On-page SEO is important because it tells Google all about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers. It helps your site be optimized for both human eyes and search engine bots.

Merely creating and publishing your website isn’t enough — you must optimize it for Google and other search engines in order to rank and attract new traffic.

On-page SEO is called “on-page” because the tweaks and changes you make to optimize your website can be seen by visitors on your page (whereas off-page and technical SEO elements aren’t always visible).

Every part of on-page SEO is completely up to you; that’s why it’s critical that you do it correctly. Now, let’s discuss the elements of on-page SEO.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

1. On-Page SEO Elements

  • High-quality page content
  • Page titles
  • Headers
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt-text
  • Structured markup
  • Page URLs
  • Internal linking
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Site speed

Content Elements

Content elements refer to the elements within your site copy and content. In this section, we’ll focus mostly on crafting high-quality page content that benefits your visitors and tells Google that your website provides value.

High-quality page content

Page content is the heart of on-page SEO. It tells both search engines and readers what your website and business is all about and how you can help.

The first step to creating high-quality content is choosing relevant keywords and topics. Conduct keyword research by searching Google for terms and seeing what surfaces for competitors and other websites. You can also use tools like Ahrefs


, Article Rewriter

and UberSuggest


Also, read our Best Tips for a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

Next, consider how your page content falls into the buyer’s journey and visitors’ search intent. These will affect how you will use your keywords and what types of content you will create:

Awareness Blog posts, videos
Consideration Buyer’s guides, case studies
About page
Decision Product demos, comparison tools
Product or pricing pages, contact page

Now, it’s time to write your page content or clean it up if you’re currently auditing your on-page SEO.

Here are a few best practices for writing high-quality page content:

  • Incorporate short and long-tail keywords naturally.
  • Add engaging and relevant visual content.
  • Write for your specific buyer persona(s).
  • Actively solve your audience’s problem.
  • Develop content people will share and link to.
  • Optimize for conversions with CTAs to offers and product pages.

Page content is your opportunity to communicate value to Google and your site visitors; it’s the heart of the on-page SEO process. All other on-page SEO elements stem from high-quality page content, so invest ample resources to develop and optimize it.

HTML Elements

HTML elements refer to the elements in your source code. Note: To see the source code for any page in your browser, click View > Developer > View Source in the top menu.

Page titles

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Your website page titles (also known as title tags) are one of the most important SEO elements.

Titles tell both visitors and search engines what they can find on the corresponding pages.

To ensure your site pages rank for the proper intent, be sure to include the focus keyword for each page in the title. Incorporate your keyword as naturally as possible.

Here are some best practices for when developing a page title:

  • Keep it under 60 characters (per Google’s latest update

    ) … any longer and your title will be cut off in search results. Mobile search results show up to 78 characters.

  • Don’t stuff the title with keywords. Not only does keyword-stuffing present a spammy and tacky reading experience, but modern search engines are smarter than ever — they’ve been designed to specifically monitor for (and penalize!) content that’s unnaturally stuffed with keywords.
  • Make it relevant to the page.
  • Don’t use all caps.
  • Include your brand in the title, i.e. “On-Page SEO Checklist 2021: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners — Blog“.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking


Headers, also known as body tags, refer to the HTML element <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, and so on.

These tags help organize your content for readers and help search engines distinguish what part of your content is most important and relevant, depending on search intent.

Incorporate important keywords in your headers, but choose different ones than what’s in your page title. Put your most important keywords in your <h1> and <h2> headers.

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the short page descriptions that appear under the title in search results. Although it’s not an official ranking factor for search engines, it can influence whether or not your page is clicked on — therefore, it’s just as important when doing on-page SEO.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Meta descriptions can also be copied over to social media when your content is shared (by using structured markup), so it can encourage click-throughs from there, too.

Here’s what makes for a good meta description:

  • Keep it under 160 characters, although Google has been known to allow longer meta descriptions — up to 220 characters. (Note: Mobile devices cut off meta descriptions at 120 characters.)
  • Include your entire keyword or keyword phrase.
  • Use a complete, compelling sentence (or two).
  • Avoid alphanumeric characters like —, &, or +.


Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Note: Use the Meta Tag Generator

and Meta Tags Analyzer

Image alt-text

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Image alt-text is like SEO for your images. It tells Google and other search engines what your images are about … which is important because Google now delivers almost as many image-based results as they do text-based results.

That means consumers may be discovering your site through your images. In order for them to do this, though, you have to add alt-text to your images.

Here’s what to keep in mind when adding image alt-text:

  • Make it descriptive and specific.
  • Make it contextually relevant to the broader page content.
  • Keep it shorter than 125 characters.
  • Use keywords sparingly, and don’t keyword stuff.

Structured markup

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Structured markup, or structured data, is the process of “marking up” your website source code to make it easier for Google to find and understand different elements of your content.

Structured markup is the key behind those featured snippets, knowledge panels, and other content features you see when you search for something on Google.

Note: Structured data is considered technical SEO, but I’m including it here because optimizing it creates a better on-page experience for visitors.

Site Architecture Elements

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Site architecture elements refer to the elements that make up your website and site pages. How you structure your website can help Google and other search engines easily crawl the pages and page content.

Page URLs

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Your page URLs should be simple to digest for both readers and search engines. They are also important when keeping your site hierarchy consistent as you create subpages, blog posts, and other types of internal pages.

Here are a few tips on how to write SEO-friendly URLs:

  • Remove the extra, unnecessary words.
  • Use only one or two keywords.
  • Use HTTPS if possible, as Google now uses that as a positive ranking factor.

Internal linking

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Internal linking is important for on-page SEO because internal links send readers to other pages on your website, keeping them around longer and thus telling Google your site is valuable and helpful. Also, the longer visitors are on your website, the more time Google has to crawl and index your site pages. This ultimately helps Google absorb more information about your website and potentially rank it higher on the search engine results pages.

Check Internal Analyzer

and Website Links Count Checker

Mobile responsive

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Did you know over the last year, Google has started favoring sites that are optimized for faster mobile speeds

 — even for desktop searches? Mobile responsiveness matters.

It’s critical to choose a website hosting service, site design and theme, and content layout that’s readable and navigable on mobile devices. If you’re not sure about your own site’s mobile readiness, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool

, Pagespeed Insights Checker

, Page Speed Checker


Site speed

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Whether being viewed on a mobile device or desktop, your site must be able to load quickly. When it comes to on-page SEO, page speed counts big-time.

Google cares about user experience first and foremost. If your site loads slowly or haphazardly, it’s likely your visitors aren’t going to stick around — and Google knows that. Moreover, site speed can impact conversions and ROI.

Check your website’s speed anytime using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool

, Pagespeed Insights Checker

, and Page Speed Checker


Note: If you use Godaddy hosting, read our article How To Fix Slow WordPress Hosting On GoDaddy

2. SEO Basics Checklist

First, let’s go over the mandatory tools and plugins you’ll need to increase your organic traffic.

Set Up Google Tag Manager

Although it’s not strictly an SEO tool, Google Tag Manager (GTM) will make your life easier as a digital marketer.

With GTM, you can easily deploy code on your site—which you’ll need to set up the other tools on this checklist—without needing to learn how to code or contact a developer.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

It’s really simple:

  1. Select the type of code you want to add (it includes some pre-built options like Google Analytics)
  2. Add code details (e.g. for Google Analytics, just add your tracking ID)
  3. Choose where to trigger the code.

Set Up Google Search Console

Search Console is a free tool provided by Google to website owners and SEOs.

You will get a ton of useful data about your search engine rankings and traffic and helpful tools:

  • Discover which keywords and pages give you the most clicks
  • Check your rankings and get keyword ideas
  • Submit a sitemap or ask for recrawls

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Plus, Search Console is how you get communications from Google about:

  • Website errors (mobile-friendliness, indexation, etc)
  • Manual penalties

Search console is a must for anyone doing SEO for Google (basically everyone).

Here are some resources to help you set up Google Search Console:

Set Up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is how you’ll link your SEO efforts to your bottom line.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

For SEO, you’ll be able to track things like:

  • How much traffic you’re getting from search engines
  • Which pages are getting the most organic traffic
  • What’s the bounce rate of organic traffic
  • How much revenue you’re getting from organic traffic

Plus, you can connect Google Search Console to Google Analytics and perform analysis that mixes both data sources.

Using WordPress? Install Rank Math

We use rank math seo, Rank Math is the best search engine optimization plugin for WordPress. It undeniably offers absolutely everything you need to take full control of your website’s technical on-page SEO. To cut a long story short, who wouldn’t want to optimize their WordPress website to get more traffic from search?

So, without further ado, let me explain in detail as to why Rank Math should be the next plugin you install on your websites and add to your list of must-use plugins.

Rank Math SEO

If you’re tired of other SEO plugins slowing down your website, Rank Math is definitely for you. As someone who is obsessed with performance, I have to admit I’m always skeptical when it comes to adding new plugins to websites. That’s the reason why I  always take the time to test plugins thoroughly. Throughout my testing of all the popular SEO plugins, it was clear that Rank Math came out on top in every single test, so if you care about performance, the choice is clear.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Easy-to-Use Redirection Module

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

When combined with Rank Math’s 404 Monitor, the redirection module is another useful feature worth mentioning.

Together with Rank Math’s Google Search Console integration, 404 Monitor and redirection module helps you proactively to track issues that may arise on your website. It wouldn’t be ideal to spend a lot of time in an effort to try and get a post to rank, only to realize that it leads to a 404 page until it’s eventually removed from search results.

While there are separate 404 Monitor plugins that make it possible to accomplish similar things, having everything paired into an SEO plugin means you don’t have to install an extra plugin that could be poorly developed, or it might slow down your website.

Advanced Inbuilt SEO Audit Feature

Audits are an important part of any search engine optimization strategy. Thanks to Rank Math, conducting actionable technical SEO audits

 has never been this easier. This is a process that would have typically taken days to complete and cost money, depending on whether or not you had the time or ability to perform what was once a difficult task.

Configure Rich Snippets

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

The reason Rank Math is my personal favorite SEO plugin can be partially attributed to the fact that it is the only plugin that allows you to configure over 14 different types of markup for content on your WordPress website.

In case you’d like to learn more about rich snippets, feel free to check out Google’s post here

 and refer to the list of rich snippet types that Rank Math supports below:

  • Article Rich Snippet
  • Book Rich Snippet
  • Course Rich Snippet
  • Event Rich Snippet
  • Job Posting Rich Snippet
  • Local Business Rich Snippet
  • Music Rich Snippet
  • Person Rich Snippet
  • Product Rich Snippet
  • Recipe Rich Snippet
  • Restaurant Rich Snippet
  • Review Rich Snippet
  • Service Rich Snippet
  • Software/App Rich Snippet
  • Video Rich Snippet

Content Insights

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

The Meta Box is one of the most important and most used components of an SEO plugin. This area lives in your post, page or custom post type editor in WordPress, and provides you with helpful insights that can help you improve your content.

Although it is relatively common for experienced search engine optimization ‘experts’ to argue that there is no need for the content analysis (such as the one that most SEO plugins have), and that meeting all of the points there won’t actually help your site rank.

They are partially true. Scoring 100/100 on a post with any SEO plugin, doesn’t necessarily mean your post is 100% likely to rank. However, the insights that Rank Math includes are more than just recommendations, they are backed up by data-driven case studies.

 So they are good recommendations, but that doesn’t mean that your only aim – while producing content – should be to meet them either.

Evidently, doing so is only a small step towards helping your site ranks. Search engine optimization wouldn’t be an $80 billion (USD) industry if it were really that easy, but proper technical on-page SEO

 and Rank Math’s content recommendations are definitely a step in the right direction.

3. Keyword Research Checklist

Keyword research is the process of discovering keyword opportunities that can generate massive traffic and sales for your business.

You have to get this right even before you start working on optimizing your site.

Understand Searcher Intent

This is fundamental to get a positive ROI for your business from SEO.

If you want to provide answers to people’s questions, you need to begin by understanding what people are searching for.

For example, let’s say you run a website for a boxing gym and find the keyword “learning box” is searched for 8,100 times per month.

It seems like a great opportunity to attract people who want to learn how to box, right?


Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

If you didn’t understand the intent behind “learning box”, you would’ve wasted any time and resources trying to rank your boxing gym website for that keyword.

To learn more about the searcher intent behind a keyword, just Google it and check out the results that show up.

Understand How Keywords Fit into Your Sales Funnel

Not all keywords will have the same value to your business.

Some keywords will attract more traffic, but others will be more likely to convert users. You should look for a healthy balance.

Here’s how you might map some keywords against the sales funnel of a website for bachelorette parties.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

If you didn’t do this, you might be tempted to dismiss some keywords with lower search volumes if you don’t realize that they are more likely to convert visitors into customers.

Understand Search Volumes

This is a topic of a lot of debate between SEOs and SEO software tools.

To prepare your keyword strategy, you’ll often use search volumes as one of the main metrics to prioritize content ideas and optimize your site.

What you’ll find in most keyword research tools represents an estimate of the monthly search volume—i.e. how many times a certain keyword is searched for each month.

The problem is, search volumes will vary depending on the tool you use:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

The trick is to not spend ANY time trying to figure out which figure is correct (different tools will have different sources of data).

Instead, think of search volumes as relative metrics instead of absolute.

From the data above, you could conclude that “flowers” is 4 to 7 times more popular than “flower delivery”.

Just pick a keyword research tool you like and don’t take the search volume numbers literally.

Understand Keyword Difficulty

If you find a keyword that’s relevant to your business, the next step is to figure out if you can compete for its traffic.

Not all keywords will be as easy (or difficult) to rank for.

Most keyword research tools (except for Google’s Keyword Planner) include a metric for how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Each tool has its own way of calculating this—so stick to one tool when comparing difficulty between keywords.

Higher difficulty means that you will need to work harder to rank for that keyword—this means writing better content than competitors, building more links, fixing technical issues, and everything else included in this checklist.

Understand Head Terms vs Long Tail Keywords

You’ll soon realize SEOs talk a lot about head terms vs long-tail keywords.

Head terms are keywords that:

  • Have a high search volume
  • Are generally very competitive (aka have a high difficulty score)
  • Are very broad—closer to the top of the funnel

Long-tail keywords are the opposite of head terms, they:

  • Have a low search volume compared to head terms
  • Are relatively easier to rank for (aka have a low difficulty score)
  • Are very specific—closer to the bottom of the funnel

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

It’s hard to tell what someone searching for the keyword “backpack” is looking for—it might be anything from the picture of a backpack to a backpackers’ hostel.

  • If you rank for “backpack”, you will attract a lot of traffic to your site, but those visitors will have a wide variety of intents, many of which might not align with what your business offers.

On the other hand, someone searching for “best carry on backpack 2018” is definitely in a consideration/buying mindset.

  • If you rank for “best carry on backpack 2018”, you will attract a lot less traffic but those visitors are much more likely to convert into customers.

ProTip: a single page can rank for hundreds of different keywords, so a page on your site could rank for both head terms and long-tail keywords.

Use a Keyword Research Tool

For years, SEOs relied on Google’s Keyword Planner to perform keyword research—it was the tool I recommended for years.

For several reasons, I now recommend using third-party tools (and experts agree


I also recommend ahrefs

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Both of these tools offer similar features that let you discover valuable keywords:

  • Search volumes, seasonality, historical, keyword difficulty, keyword competitors
  • Related keywords, autocomplete/search suggestions (what happens when you start typing something in Google), questions
  • Find out which keywords your competitors are ranking for

Here are some resources to help you perform keyword research like a pro:

4. On-Page SEO Checklist

Search engines can’t understand content as easily as humans… yet


On-page optimization

 is everything you do to help search engines understand that your content is a relevant answer to people’s queries.

Here’s how to do that.

Include Your Target Keyword in the URL

This is the first thing Google sees—even before the content of your page.

When you include your keyword in the URL, you’re sending Google a signal of what your page is about.

If you are creating a page about red running shoes, a good example would be to use:

A bad example would be something like, which doesn’t give us (or search engines) any clue of what the page is about

Warning: There are very serious consequences to changing a URL that already has authority. Don’t do this if your page already has links!

Keep Your URLs Short

It can be tempting to stuff your URLs with as many keywords as possible—avoid this!

Research has shown that shorter URLs tend to rank higher than long ones.

  • Good example:
  • Bad Example:

Here’s a helpful article on how to optimize your URLs:

Add Your Keyword to Your Title Tag

Title tags are still one of the most powerful important elements of on-page SEO.

The title tag is what people will see when they search on Google.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

That’s why you should include your target keyword in the title tag.

In general, try to include your keyword closer to the beginning of the sentence and keep the entire title under 52 characters.

Here are some resources to help you optimize your title tags:

Optimize Your Title for Organic CTR

If more people click on your page vs other websites in the search engine results page, it gives Google an indication that your page might be a better answer to people’s questions than those other sites.

This is called organic clickthrough rate (CTR): the percentage of people who click on your page divided by everyone who sees it.

That’s why it’s not enough to just include the keyword in there.

Your title tag needs to be eye-catching and entice searchers to click on it.

A good idea when crafting your title is to look at what your competitors are doing…

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Use Google Search Console to find and track the CTR of your pages for specific keywords.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Add Your Keyword to Your Meta Description and Make it Compelling

The content of the meta description is no longer used by search engines as a ranking signal.

However, writing a compelling meta description and including your keyword in it can help with your CTR.

Plus, Google highlights the keyword the user searched if it’s included in the meta description.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Add Your Keyword to Your H1 Tag, and Make Sure to Only Use One

Even though the value of the H2, H3,…, H6 tags for SEO is debatable, it is still generally a good idea to include your primary keyword in your H1 tag

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Make sure there is only one H1 on the entire page and that it appears before any other heading tag.

Include Your Keyword in the Body of the Page

Use your keyword at least 3 times in the body of your page, and try to do it once close to the top of the page.

You can see how we did that for our on-page optimization tutorial

, which we’re optimizing for the term “on-page seo”.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Plus, make sure to have at least 100 words on each URL (minimum – the more the better).

You can still rank with fewer words, and you don’t ever want to put unnecessary text on your site, but I recommend not creating a new page unless you have roughly ~100 words worth of content (500+ is ideal).

Use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords in Your Copy

Latent semantic indexing, or LSI, is a method used to determine context.

For example, some LSI keywords for the term “new york city” might be:

  • Empire State Building
  • Wall Street
  • Statue of Liberty
  • New Jersey

Including keywords that are thematically related to your primary keyword can help search engines understand what the content of your page is about.

LSI Graph is a great free tool to find these keywords.

Just input your target keyword and get a list of LSI keywords

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Include these keywords in your content whenever it makes sense.

Here are some resources for LSI keywords:

Optimize the Readability of Your Content

A page bounce (i.e. people who land on your page from search engines and leave your site without engaging) can send a negative signal to search engine.

On the other hand, if you manage to keep visitors engaged (reading your content and clicking through more pages of your site), you’ll send a signal to Google that your content is relevant.

Some best practices to optimize the readability of your site include:

  • Writing short sentences instead of long paragraphs
  • Organizing your content with headings and subheadings
  • Including rich media like images, gifs, audio, and video
  • Linking to additional helpful resources

For example, we followed these guidelines for our email marketing strategy guide

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

And received great feedback from our readers:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Here are some resources to help you write better content:

Optimize Your Images

Search engines “see” images by reading the ALT tag and looking at file names, among other factors.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Try to be descriptive when you name your images (but don’t overdo it!)

Build Internal Links

When page A on your site gets linked from another site (aka an external link, or backlink), its authority increases.

If you add a link from page A to another on your site, page B (aka an internal link), some of the authority from page A passes to page B.

That’s why it’s a good idea to add links to other pages of your site whenever it makes sense.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

ProTip: the anchor text, or text you use to link, also matters, so try to include your keyword in there and avoid generic phrases like “click here” or “this post”.

Avoid using keywords in global navigation, though, as that can look like over-optimization. Stick to in-content links instead.

Here are some resources to help you with internal linking:

Link to Authoritative Sites

This is a controversial tactic, but it’s one of my favorite ones.

I’ve found that whenever I link to authoritative websites it helps my own rankings (even if I’m competing against them).

You can find this tactic in most of our content.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

If you run your own website or can get buy-in from your boss to link to bigger competitors, I definitely recommend doing this.

Link building, or off-page optimization, is one of the most powerful things you can do to increase your rankings.

In simple terms, this means convincing other websites to link to your pages.

Links were the base of the original Google algorithm back in 1998—and they are just as relevant today.

I’m not going to lie, link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO.

But there are a few tactics you can use to gain easy links (see the easy link opportunities below).

Understand Authority Metrics

To determine which pages to rank above all others, search engines rely heavily on the authority of pages and websites.

In SEO, authority is mainly determined by links—more specifically, links from other sites to yours.

Here are a few general rules for how the authority is calculated:

  • More links > fewer links
  • Links from sites relevant to the topic of your site > links from completely irrelevant sites
  • Links from sites with high authority > links from sites with low authority
  • Links from several sites > several links from a single site
  • Links in the body > site-wide links (e.g. header, footer, or sidebar)

Search engines don’t publish authority metrics, but several tools have developed their own metrics.

For example, here’s how authority metrics look if you’re using ahrefs:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

UR is short for URL Rating and DR is short for Domain Rating—ahrefs’ own metrics for the authority of a page and a website, respectively.

In general, here’s how you should think about authority:

  • A page with a higher UR is more likely to rank higher than a page with a lower UR
  • If two pages have similar UR scores, DR can break the tie

Of course, you’ll find this is often not the case—just use authority metrics as a broad guideline, not a hard fact.

Also, read our Domain Authority, Page Authority Vs Domain Rating: What Do They Mean for SEO?

Easy Link Opportunity #1: Reach Out to Friends/Colleagues

Do you have friends, family, colleagues, or previous employers who run a website?

If it makes sense, you can reach out to them and ask them to add a link to your site.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

A lot of people are too afraid or ashamed to ask—get over that and just ask!

In my experience, this is one of the easiest ways to get links to your site.

Easy Link Opportunity #3: Fix Broken Inbound Links

If your site has been around for a while with no one paying too much attention to SEO…

…you’re going to find broken links.

If the destination of a link returns an error code, that’s a broken link

From a technical SEO standpoint, it’s a good idea to fix these URLs.

But it’s urgent to do this if other websites are linking to those broken URLs.

You can use ahref’s broken backlinks report to find these:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

A URL might be broken for several reasons:

  • The content was removed
  • The content was moved to a new URL
  • There is a technical issue

Your options can be:

  • Redirect the broken URL to a working URL
  • Update or republish the missing content
  • Fix the technical issues

Do whatever you need to do to avoid having broken backlinks.

Here are some resources to help you fix broken backlinks:

Reverse Engineer Your Competitors’ Links

Finding people who will be willing to link to your content can seem challenging.

But there’s an easy way to do this.

Your competitors (aka people who are already ranking for the keyword you’re targeting) already managed to get people to link to them.

Why not start there?

For example, let’s say you want to rank for “how to make apple pie”:

  1. Look for the top pages ranking for that keyword
  2. Copy and paste the URLs into ahref’s site explorer
  3. Open the backlinks report

Every one of those is a link opportunity for your site.

Click on each opportunity and reverse engineer the backlink:

  • Did your competitor get interviewed by the site? Try to get an interview yourself.
  • Did they post as a guest? Check if you can do that too.
  • Is your competitor’s post outdated or not that good? Pitch your content and explain why it’s a better resource.

When you reach out to these people, remember to always give people a meaningful and compelling reason to link to your content.

Here are some resources to help you reverse engineer competitor’s links:

Guest Post on Relevant Sites

Back in 2014, Google cracked down on spammy guest posting as a link building practice

and Spam in blogs: Stop Comment Spam on Your WordPress Website

Does this mean guest blogging doesn’t work anymore?


If you write valuable guest posts on relevant websites and add links to your site in a natural (not spammy) way, guest blogging can be a great way to build links.

For example, here’s a post I published a while ago in the Moz blog:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

It’s a helpful post, published in a relevant site in my industry, with a non-spammy link to my site.

An easy way to find guest posting opportunities is to search Google using advanced search operators.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Try these searches for your target keyword:

  • “[jasa seo]” “write for us”
  • “[jasa seo murah]” “become a contributor”
  • “[jasa seo profesional]” “submit guest post”
  • “[jasa seo terbaik]” “guest post by”
  • “[jasa seo google]” “guest post”
  • “[jasa seo organik]” inurl:blog “contributor guidelines”
  • “[pesan jasa seo]” inurl:blog “write for”

Note: Replace the word “jasa seo” with the keywords you want to search for

Reach out to the blogs or websites that make sense, it may be a good idea to have a few post pitches prepared beforehand.

ProTip: if you have already guest posted on other sites, send over examples along with your pitch to build some credibility.

Here are some resources to help you build links through guest blogging:

PS – If you haven’t created your own yet, make sure to check out this great guide on how to start a blog


Use Broken Link Building

Remember how I mentioned “Fix Broken Inbound Links” as an easy link opportunity?

When other websites don’t fix their broken inbound links, and this happens a lot for larger websites, that’s an opportunity for you.

There are several approaches to finding these broken links:

Approach #1: Use a Chrome extension

You can use a broken link finder

in pages.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Approach #2: Find broken inbound links to your competitors

Grab your biggest competitors and use ahrefs to find all their broken inbound links.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Approach #3: Find broken outbound links on authoritative sites in your niche

If there’s an authoritative website in your niche you want to get links from, you can scrape their site to find broken outbound links.

ahrefs is also a great tool for this, but you can also use something free like Screaming Frog


Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Once you’ve identified the broken links, you need to provide websites with an alternative to link to.

You can use Wayback Machine to find what the content of a broken URL was before it was taken down or removed.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Understand what the content was, create something better or more up-to-date, and reach out to people linking to it letting them know they have a broken link (and you have something they can easily substitute it with).

Here are some great resources on how to build links through broken links:

Understand what the content was, create something better or more up-to-date, and reach out to people linking to it letting them know they have a broken link (and you have something they can easily substitute it with).

Here are some great resources on how to build links through broken links:

6. Technical SEO Checklist

Technical SEO is everything you do to make it easier for search engines to find your website.

Technical issues can prevent your site from ranking and getting organic traffic.

Fix Crawl Errors

Crawl errors are those preventing Google from viewing your content.

You can find them using the Coverage report in Google Search Console

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Fix all the errors you find in this report and monitor Search Console to fix new issues as they come up.

Here are great resources on fixing crawl errors:

Fix Broken Links

Broken links on your site send a bad signal to Google.

A site with a lot of broken backlinks is probably not up-to-date and unlikely to provide a valuable answer to searchers.

You should try to avoid having broken links on your site.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Switch to HTTPS

In an effort to make the web “safer” for users, Google has made a push for more websites to use HTTPS.

So you might see a small ranking boost by switching from HTTP to HTTPS.

ProTip: if you’re starting a new site, you should use HTTPS right away and save yourself the trouble of switching later on.

Here are great resources that might come in handy when switching to HTTPS:

Make Sure Your Site Doesn’t Have Duplicate Content

Duplicate content issues happen when two or more URLs on your site are identical or very similar.

This can dilute the SEO value of your content among several URLs.

Use 301 redirects, canonical tags or use Google Search Console to fix any duplicate content that might be indexing and penalizing your site.

Here are great resources to help you deal with duplicate content

Fix Any Missing or Duplicate Meta Tags

Missing or duplicate meta tags (title and meta description) can hurt your site.

Screaming Frog is my favorite tool to find these:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Once you’ve identified the URLs with issues, just head over to Yoast (if you’re using WordPress) and fix them.

Here are some resources to help you deal with duplicate or missing meta tags:

Fix Bad Redirects

There are 2 common issues with redirects:

Common issue #1: 302s that should be 301s

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect and passes almost all SEO value from the old page to the new one. This is a good redirect.

A 302 is a temporary redirect. It’s used for site maintenance or time-specific promotions. The SEO value of the redirected page is not passed to the new destination.

Use Screaming Frog to crawl your site and find 302 redirects:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Replace (almost all) 302 redirects with 301 redirects.

Common issue #2: redirect chains

The more redirects Google has to go through to find a URL, the less value is passed from the original URL.

A redirect chain might look like:

  1. redirects to
  2. redirects to

Instead of having to pass through, it’s better to just do this in one step:

  1. redirects to

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

As an increasing amount of web traffic comes from mobile devices, having a site that is not responsive to different screen sizes and shapes will negatively impact usability, especially for local searches.

Plus, Google recently deployed the mobile-first index

, which means they’ll use the mobile (not the desktop) version of your site to crawl and index it.

They are basically saying: “if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it won’t rank highly on Google”.

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

 tool to check your site:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

If you’re using a CMS (like WordPress, Squarespace, or Shopify), use or switch to a responsive theme.

I recommend this theme:

Speed Up Your Site

Search engines value sites that provide a good user experience and the speed of your site is a huge factor.

A slow loading site will increase your bounce rate, as visitors lose patience and leave.

Many tools offer speed tests along with suggestions on how to make your site faster.

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

ProTip: It’s super easy to get caught up in trying to fix all of these speed issues and getting a perfect score. DON’T do this—in general, try to fix the ones you can easily fix in a day or less, and then move on.

Here are some tools you can use to make your site faster:

Create an XML Sitemap and Submit it to Google Search Console

An XML sitemap helps search engines understand the structure of your site and find all the pages that you want to be indexed.

You can use Google Search Console to submit your sitemap to Google:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

Here are some resources you can use to create and submit your sitemap:

Create a robots.txt File

Together with your XML sitemap, a robots.txt file will establish what activities crawlers are permitted to perform in relation to each page on your site.

Including one in the top-level directory allows you to control the way that a search engine crawls and indexes your site.

For example, you can block Google from crawling your WordPress login URL:

Complete SEO Checklist 2021: Tips, Techniques & Ranking

These directions can be specified for different types of crawlers, allowing you to establish different protocols for different search engines.

Here are some resources you can use to create and test your robots.txt file:

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