Comprehensive SEO Checklist 2021 (Updated) – Content

If you’re seeking SEO checklist which can allow you to expand your website’s organic traffic and ranking on Google, then you’ve just discovered it.

We’ve assembled the ultimate checklist which you will need to drive SEO achievement in 2021, covering best practice points and activities you will need to learn about.

In the search engine optimization fundamentals to must-knows when assessing your off-page signs, use this as a reference point for making sure that your website is sticking to best-practice which you are not being held back by problems you have missed.

Listed below are the main categories I will cover in this series:

Content SEO Checklist

 When it comes to SEO, always keep in mind that content is king! Once again, not only should your goal be to provide outstanding content for your target group – if your content is convincing people will share it among their peers without further ado. Therefore always make sure to publish outstanding and valuable content!

Follow a SEO content strategy

As we just learned: “Content is King!” This is the SEO mantra you should live by. Google relies on content to determine the ranking of websites – and your job is to provide this content! The base of every SEO strategy should hence be a well-planned, long-term content strategy.

When it comes to content, producing some kind of content is not the challenge. Producing the right content is! You will need to publish GREAT pieces of content that provide real value for your readers and ideally complement each other. (Hence the need for a strategy!)

Here are a couple tips:

  • Group content around specific subjects and themes
  • Create several layers of content around a topic
  • Show various perspectives on a certain topic
  • Discuss different phases of your buyer personas (awareness, ready to buy, …)
  • Focus on keywords that are easy to rank for AND that have significant traffic
  • Leverage and reuse your existing content by improving it and keeping it up-to-date

Do keyword research before producing any content

Every SEO content strategy should be based on an extensive keyword research. Why? Because before you can produce content people are interested in, you will need to know what they are searching for!

You can have very high-qualitative content but if you write for the wrong keywords people will simply not find or read it. This means, you wasted your time and/or money.

You hence need to make sure the keywords you’re writing for…

  1. are relevant for your business
  2. target customers during a certain buyer-journey phase
  3. have enough traffic to make your efforts worthwhile

But how exactly do you do that?

First of all, there are several tools which can help you find the right keywords:

1.  Group all your long-tail keywords by main topic/keyword.

 While doing your keyword research, you’ll most likely find many similar long-tail (niche) keywords covering the same main topic. My recommendation is to group them and then write one long-form piece of content, covering EACH of the keywords. This way you avoid”so-called “content cannibalization” issues, meaning you target the same keyword across several web pages, cannibalizing your own content.

2.  Start with with low-competition keywords

There might be keywords that fit your business and have significant search traffic. “Well that’s great – let’s target them!” you might think now. Well, considering that you are not the only one coming to that conclusion, there are probably many other big websites outside targeting that keyword. And it will be VERY hard to compete with established pages (like Hubspot to give an example) especially if you’re just starting out or you know your website is not yet an authority. Hence, I recommend to target keywords that are currently dominated by websites that are not highly established yet and therefore easier to beat.

3.  Find which keywords your competition is ranking for and steal them by writing 10x better content

 This one is self-explanatory – beat them to the ground! More about creating 10x content in the next section.

Create long-form content

Although word count per-se is not a ranking factor (always keep in mind quality over quantity!), writing long-form content leads to various benefits:

  • long-form has more opportunities generates more backlinks than short posts
  • therefore they perform in search results
  • which means long-form content brings more traffic

We know – this is a very casual cause-and-effect chain – but this is how things work. However, this relation is only proportional till a certain length is reached as the negative effects of too much length set in (nobody wants to read forever long content right?)

Now the question arises, how long should your content be? Statistically speaking, the ideal word count lay between 800-1500 words per publication.

Nevertheless, your focus always should remain the quality of an article rather than the word count. Keep in mind: Your main goal of the content is to solve a certain problem in a unique way and to provide valuable information – no matter if this happens in 500 or 5000 words.

In the end, there is one thumb rule to live by:   The easier your content is to consume and understand, the better!

Create 10x content

The term “10x content” was firstly introduced by Moz a few years ago and refers to “content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.”

The reason why people use Google search is because they want to find the best solution to a problem they’re facing. However, sometimes there is simply no great answer to a problem out there and the first Google page only consists of landing pages or short, meaningless articles.

Now, imagine you suddenly find a piece of content such as a blog article that provides REAL value and solves your problem in ways you’ve never thought about. This is content you are proud you found, and there is a chance you then go ahead and bookmark it, share it on your social networks, or even link to it from your blog. And this is the reason why it should be your goal to produce outstanding content as the effect can be huge!

For you to get a better idea and some inspiration, here are some 10x content examples put together by the Moz team.

Avoid content cannibalization

Content cannibalization = derogatory strategy of targeting the same keyword across several web pages.

As definitions are always a little dry, here’s an example:

Look at these two domains:

https://domain.com/new-york-wedding-venues https://domain.com/new-york-wedding-reception-venues

Both links (of the same domain) refer to the SAME main keyword (New York Wedding Venue) – not ideal.

How do you identify content cannibalization?

An easy way to find out if your pages are threatened by content cannibalization is the tool Ahrefs.

The main idea behind it is that you first export the keywords your site is ranking for, then arrange them alphabetically which lets you identify URLs ranking for the same keyword.

For a more detailed and hands-on explanation, check out this video Ahrefs published to explain how it works.

How to avoid content cannibalization

 as stated above, group long-tail keywords in topics, then write long-form content covering ALL these keywords, rather than writing unique pages for each one of them

  • avoid falling into the “searcher intent” trap by targeting the same main keywords several times, covering different searcher intent nuances on different pages.

Build your website around Content Hubs

Content hubs (other names include pillar pages or topic clusters) should be the core of your website structure.

The Content Hub strategy is an approach to build up a website by clustering subpages with similar content (sometimes referred to as “spoke” pages) and linking them to a superior hub page.

There are many different ways to shape these content hubs. They could for example be existing blog categories or new pages built from scratch.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you will find a deeper explanation of the topic here. You can also have a look at this detailed list of content hubs put together by MIG.

“Deepen” your hubs with supporting content

Hub pages usually cover a certain subject, such as a specific keyword with a significant search volume and a ranking difficulty in the range of medium to hard. However, achieving a high rank with such a page on its own is hard. Hence, you will need to create additional, supporting content, to “feed” the hub page.

If you look at your current website it is very likely that you already have a hub-structure of some kind in place, for example in the form of categories. Now it’s time to work with them and create supporting content such as blog posts to push these pages up in the ranking.

Keep your content up to date

Content marketing is a continuous process. While it’s important to publish new content on a regular basis it is crucial to not lose sight of your “old” publications. Make sure you keep them up to date (so they are still relevant!) and continuously improve them to further push and/or keep their ranking.

Very often, this aspect is overlooked or seen as unnecessary. But that’s the biggest mistake! Studies show that revised “old” content often performs much better than newly published articles. The potential is big – so don’t be surprised if your traffic on an old page doubles after you update it.

Here are some ideas you could use when updating old content:

  • Make sure the information is still accurate and relevant to date
  • Fix broken or expired links and/or add new links to new, relevant references
  • Fix grammar mistakes and improve your writing style
  • Add new media to the post, such as images or video embeds

Don’t forget: Once you update an old post it will also update its publication data to that day – which in return means that the article will show up among the latest results. Et voilà there you have it – a fresh piece of content that is as good as new!

Make sure your categories (content hubs) are unique

Since this sounds like a given it is actually one of the most unnoticed malfunctions. As mentioned before, your categories serve as content. So far so good. However, these content hubs automatically show respective content from your blog posts and articles. Which, in turn, means that the risk of cannibalization is huge as your content appears not once but several times across your website.

In order to avoid this phenomenon (and to get your pages to rank!) you will need to produce UNIQUE content for each category.

An easy way (e.g. in WordPress) is to add a unique description to each category.

E.A.T. to the rescue

E.A.T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. E.A.T. are three of the most decisive dimensions Google uses to determine if you are worthy to rank high – or not. Why? Well Google wants to make sure it always presents the best results for a search query. And who would you trust more regarding the quality of a website – an established and renowned global organization that has been in the industry for years or a newcomer with no reference?

The first step to increase your E.A.T is to make sure that the content on your website reflects your expertise and authority in our industry and that people see you and your website as trustworthy.

For example, let’s take two websites:

A – A general, magazine style blog which covers different family-related topics such as health, food, DIY gardening, kids, and so on.

B – A blog from a nurse who has worked with children for years and speaks about child nursing only.

Now let’s say both websites publish an almost identical article (assuming that the websites are also identical in terms of link and on-page profile), then the article published on the nurse blog will most likely outrank the one published in the magazine. Why? Because the content of the nurse blog is stronger correlated to E.A.T. than the other one. Makes sense?

Another example: Let’s say you’re a photographer and suddenly decide to write a blog post about knitting socks on your photography website. Now suddenly this article ranks with pro-knitters that have solely focused on publications about knitting for years. They will easily outrank you!

So, keep in mind to write content around your fields of expertise, where people consider you a reliable authority.

This performance experience SEO checklist can help your business get started with SEO.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement on SEO checklist on a site. It requires time, dedication, and some background SEO knowledge. At Pacelab, our team can help you check-off every to-do on your checklist.

Request a free quote online today or call us at +919717778130 to start using SEO for your website!

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