With the evolution of the digital marketing industry, Semrush is always at the forefront of market change. They are constantly updating existing tools, making it easier for all marketers, and introducing new products that reduce the entry bar to win digital competitions.
But before we get into the biggest updates of 2020, let’s take a look mostly used checklist.
Looking for an SEO checklist that will appear at the top of Google’s search results and help boost organic traffic?
We have created the ultimate checklist needed to be successful in SEO. It covers 21 best practices you should know.
From the basics of SEO to what you definitely need to know when analyzing off-page signals, using this list will stop you from having your site based on best practices and overlooked issues. You can be sure that nothing has happened.
- 1 How to use this SEO checklist?
- 2 SEO Basics Checklist
- 3 Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
- 4 Set up Google Analytics
- 5 Install and configure the SEO plugin (if using WordPress)
- 6 Generate and send sitemap
- 7 Create a robots.txt file
- 8 Check manual actions in Search Console
- 9 Make sure Google can actually index your website
- 10 Keyword Research Checklist
- 11 Identify competing sites
- 12 Find the main “money” keyword
- 13 Search for long tail keywords
- 14 Creating a keyword map
- 15 Analyze the search intent of the top-ranked pages
- 16 Identify Frequently Asked Questions
- 17 Understand how difficult it is to be ranked high by target keywords
- 18 Technical SEO checklist
- 19 Make sure you are using HTTPS
- 20 Check for duplicate versions of your website in Google’s index
- 21 Find and fix crawl errors
- 22 Improve site speed
- 23 Fix broken internal and external links
- 24 Find and fix HTTP links on HTTPS pages
- 25 Make sure your website is mobile friendly
- 26 What is Semrush?
- 27 Features of Semrush
- 28 Impressions and reviews of SEMRush
- 29 Previously, there was a weakness that there was little keyword data
- 30 Comparison with Ahrefs
- 31 Function comparison
- 32 Which SEO expert is using?
- 33 Introduction of functions
- 34 Report function
- 35 Content calendar
- 36 How to use Semrush
- 37 How much will Semrush cost to new users?
How to use this SEO checklist?
We have divided this checklist into several sections dealing with key areas of SEO. Basic, keyword research, technical SEO, on-page SEO, content, and off-page SEO.
It’s possible that your website already covers many of these points. If so, that’s great.
However, every website has room for improvement, and there may be some areas of best practices that you have overlooked.
Some of the points covered in this checklist may not be relevant to your website. Still no problem.
Go through this list to find out what’s involved with your site, solve problems, and maximize opportunities as much as possible. SEO success isn’t just about crushing checklists.
But to outperform competing websites, you should at least ensure most of the points presented in this checklist.
SEO Basics Checklist
If you neglect the basics of SEO, it will be difficult to rank high on highly competitive keywords.
Many of the points introduced here are monotonous work. However, the practice of these basic measures will lead to the success of the SEO strategy.
Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Google Search Console is an essential tool that provides you with the data you need to grow your organic visibility and traffic, as well as the immensely important insights you have into your site’s performance.
Bing Webmaster Tools also provides data and insights, and like the Google Search Console, it’s an important tool.
With these tools, you can view the keywords that users used to find your website in search results, submit sitemaps, identify crawl errors, and more.
If you haven’t set it up yet. Go now.
Set up Google Analytics
Without the correct data, you cannot make the right decision.
Google Analytics is a free analytics that provides data such as “how many users visited your website”, “what people are visiting”, “how they engaged” and so on. It is a tool.
For everything a beginner should know about this tool, see our definitive guide. It covers how to set up, how to read the most useful reports, and so on. Without Google Analytics, it would be difficult to make an SEO strategy successful.
It’s also important to integrate Google Analytics and Google Search Console to import data from each other.
Install and configure the SEO plugin (if using WordPress)
If your CMS is WordPress (which is quite possible given that 35% of websites use WordPress), you can install and configure the SEO plugin. You can get the features you need to properly optimize your website.
I recently published a WordPress SEO checklist, and this article introduces recommended SEO plugins. Which plugin to choose will be a matter of personal preference, but I think these three plugins are good choices.
I suggest you start with Yoast SEO, Yoast helps you with your website optimization.
If you’re using a CMS that isn’t WordPress, talk to your developers about whether you need a dedicated plugin, a module, or one that includes the features you need.
Generate and send sitemap
The purpose of sitemaps is to help search engines determine which pages are crawling and which are legitimate pages.
A sitemap is a list of URLs that should be crawled and indexed to identify the main content of your website.
Google supports multiple formats for sitemaps, but XML is the most common. Also, the sitemap is usually placed at “https://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml”.
If you’re using WordPress and have the plugins mentioned above installed, sitemap generation is a standard feature.
In other cases, there are multiple generation tools that can create XML sitemaps. We also have some recommended tools for our recently published ultimate guide to sitemaps.
After generating your sitemap, submit it from Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Also, put a sitemap in your robots.txt file.
Create a robots.txt file
Very simply, robots.txt tells search engines whether the page or file can be crawled or requested.
It is commonly used to prevent crawling of specific sections of a website. It is not used to prevent it from appearing in web page indexes or Google search results.
The robots.txt file is located at https://www.domain.com/robots.txt.
Make sure you have already installed it.
If you haven’t installed it yet, create one. At this point, even if there are no pages that need to be prevented from crawling.
Some WordPress SEO plugins have the ability to create and edit robots.txt files. However, if you are using another CMS, you will need to manually create it using a text file and upload it to the root domain.
Check manual actions in Search Console
In rare cases, if you are tasked with manual action, you will find that you are negatively affected.
In general, manual actions occur when you clearly violate Google’s webmaster guidelines or attempt to manipulate them intentionally. It’s called spam, including user-generated spam, structured data issues, unnatural links (both source and sink), thin content, and hidden text.
Most websites have never been and will not be affected by manual actions.
In any case, you can check the status on the “Security and Manual Actions” tab in Google Search Console.
If you have taken a manual action, you can see it in this section. Also, if you’re joining a new project or taking over another site, the presence of manual action is one of the first things you should check.
Make sure Google can actually index your website
Websites are often not indexed by Google.
In fact, when moving a website from a staging environment to a production environment, the developer may accidentally place the Noindex tag and the site’s index may suddenly disappear.
You can also use Semrush site audit tool to make sure your website is actually crawlable and indexable.
Crawl your website. If some page is blocked, search engines won’t be able to crawl and index either.
Double-check that the main page to be indexed is really indexable. This is because it is possible to prevent the problem from being discovered later.
Keyword Research Checklist
Without a solid keyword research process, the right keywords won’t rank high.
And if it doesn’t rank high with the right keywords, traffic won’t lead to conversions as often as it should.
Here’s a checklist of keyword research you need to succeed in your SEO efforts.
Identify competing sites
The quickest way to start keyword research is to find the keywords your competitors are targeting.
We don’t think there is any wasted time spent analyzing competing sites.
On the Semrush domain overview page, enter the domains for your site and your competitors. You can easily compare visibility with competing sites competing in the same area.
Find the main “money” keyword
You need to know the main “money” keywords for you. In other words, it is a keyword that generates leads, sales, and conversions.
These are also called keywords for headterms and pillar pages.
In general, these keywords have a lot of search volume and are highly competitive keywords that put together your offers, both at the topic level and at the category level. For example, a head term like the “NFL jersey.”
You can identify the head term for you by using the keyword summary function and conducting a keyword survey around your product or service.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to learning content strategy based on key keywords, check out this article.
Search for long tail keywords
A keyword strategy that does not include long-tail keywords cannot be called a keyword strategy.
The volume is lower than the head term, but the long tail keyword has a high conversion rate.
SEO strategies need to target long-tail keywords as well as head terms. In the sense of optimizing your website to be ranked higher, including related keywords (targeting long-tail keywords that are relevant for any content), and creating content that supports key content. Also in the sense of doing.
We recommend using the Keyword Magic Tool to help you find long-tail keywords.
After entering the main keywords and selecting the target country, a list of keywords will be displayed. You can also filter by type, such as whole, phrase, exact match, or related keywords.
If you need more long-tail keyword ideas, Competitive Research Toolkit can help you find keywords that can be used throughout your content.
Creating a keyword map
Once you’ve identified your target keywords, assign them to each page of your site and see if there are any differences.
It’s important to take the time to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords on the right pages. Following the process presented in this article will help you get off to a good start and push your SEO strategy forward.
Analyze the search intent of the top-ranked pages
Make sure your website content matches the searcher’s search intent.
Take the time to analyze the pages displayed with your target keywords and see if your content responds to them.
For example, let’s say you are targeting keywords at the national level. The volume of keywords is large and the difficulty level should be high. However, if the search results are returning local results, they probably won’t be ranked high.
If Google doesn’t understand the search intent of the top-ranked content, it’s difficult to create content that matches the search intent of the searcher.
See how to identify the searcher’s intent in this guide. As a starting point, the chart below, which sorts by type of search intent, may be helpful.
Identify Frequently Asked Questions
Knowing the Frequently Asked Questions will help you provide better answers depending on the content on your site. Also, keep in mind that many people call search engines ” answer engines.”
Enter keywords in the Keyword Summary tool to get a list of questions related to them, along with a monthly search volume.
Entering a specific keyword as a starting point should be useful as a starting point and as a list to get noticed.
In addition, tools like AlsoAsked.com are useful. It will return the results of “People Also Asked” and you will be able to find questions and ideas to answer in your content.
Understand how difficult it is to be ranked high by target keywords
New websites will struggle to rank high on highly competitive keywords until they are recognized as an authority in the area. It may be unacceptable, but it is a fact.
You need to understand how difficult it is to be ranked high on your target keywords so that you don’t get inconsistent with the expectations of your clients and bosses.
Again, use the keyword overview feature. If you enter the target keywords, the difficulty level of each keyword will be displayed. Indicates how difficult it is for the new website to appear on the first page.
Technical SEO checklist
Technical SEO helps build a solid foundation and ensure that websites can be crawled and indexed.
Here are some of the most common areas of best practices that you should pay attention to.
Make sure you are using HTTPS
It’s 2020 now. HTTPS became a ranking factor in 2014.
There is no excuse not to use HTTPS on your website. If you’re still using HTTP, now is the time to improve.
You can easily check if your website is HTTPS by looking at the URL displayed in your browser.
If you see the padlock mark, your website is HTTPS. If you don’t see it, it’s not HTTPS.
Check for duplicate versions of your website in Google’s index
It’s very important that Google can index only one version.
These are all different versions of your website and all need to point to one version.
It’s up to you to choose with or without www. However, the most common version is https://www.domain.com.
All other versions should have 301 redirects towards the major versions. You can check by entering the URL of each version in the address bar of the browser.
If redirects are set, there is nothing wrong with it. However, if you have access to different versions, set up redirects as soon as possible.
Find and fix crawl errors
You can quickly see crawl errors by looking at the data in Google Search Console.
You can view the coverage report and see the “Errors” and “Exclusions” pages. You can also see “warning” and “valid” data.
Take the time to fix the error displayed here. Also, check the details and investigate the cause of the excluded URLs (often there is a reason to resolve them, such as a 404 error or a flawed canonical page).
Improve site speed
Slow sites impair the user experience.
In fact, Google is announcing updates to the page experience. Scheduled to start in 2021, it’s an update that treats the user experience as a ranking factor.
Check your website’s load speed and be aware that even if it’s fast enough, users will want further improvements.
No one is waiting for a slow-loading website. It’s 2021 now.
You can use site auditing tools to crawl your website to identify slow-loading pages. You can also use Google’s Page Speed Insights for more information. In addition, you can get some advice on how to improve by reading the guide we have created.
Broken links are another factor that impairs the user experience. No one will click on a link that doesn’t take you to the page you were expecting.
For both internal and external links, broken link data is available in the site audit report. Let’s fix it by updating the specified URL or deleting the link itself.
Many websites have moved from HTTP to HTTPS, but often the internal link still points to the HTTP page.
Even if a redirect is set and the user can be transitioned to the HTTPS page, this is an unnecessary redirect. It should be updated as soon as possible.
If you have a small number of links that apply to this, try updating manually with your CMS. However, for the entire site (which is often the case), you may need to update the page template or change the database.
If you are uncertain about the situation, talk to the developer.
If you’re looking to break into (HTTP vs HTTPS), I suggest checking out : ▷ HTTP vs HTTPS: Why You Need a Secure Site
Make sure your website is mobile friendly
Being mobile-friendly is a key element of future page experience updates.
However, the reason for emphasizing mobile friendliness is that from September 2020 (*), we will start migrating to the mobile first index for all websites.
* Postponed to March 2021 (Prepare for mobile-first indexing (with a little extra time))
This will make websites that don’t offer a mobile-friendly experience struggle to gain organic visibility.
You can check if your website is mobile-friendly with Google’s mobile-friendly test.
What is Semrush?
The reading is “Semrush”, but many people call it “SEMrash”.
A Boston-based SEM Tool Software company.
Introduced around 2007, it is now the world’s most famous SEO tool with over 1 million users.
We have won the Best SEO Software Suite award in the United States and the United Kingdom in 2018 and 2019.
In a nutshell, it’s like an “all-in-one tool” with many features.
Similar tools include Ahrefs and Ubersuggest.
However, Semrush also has other social media functions and advertising functions, which is convenient because it can cover most of digital marketing.
Impressions and reviews of SEMRush
I myself use it as an SEO tool for my current company.
The feature is, to be clear, multifunctional.
Looking at each function, there are some inferior points to other tools.
For example, Ahrefs is better for competitive, keyword, and backlink surveys.
GRC is better for rank tracking.
The site audit is pretty high level, but it still loses to Screaming Frog.
However, there is not much difference in each function, so I think that Semrush, which has various other functions, will be better off.
Other features include all the tools you need for digital marketing, including social media integration, advertising, content marketing, and content calendars.
By the way, rank tracking and site auditing are quite high level, so there is no problem.
Previously, there was a weakness that there was little keyword data
Until around the summer of 2020, there was little keyword data, and keyword research was useless.
However, it seems that the data has been gathered suddenly from the latter half of 2020, and the accuracy of the search volume has improved.
It has improved to the same extent as Ahrefs.
Until then, I was an Ahref sect, but now I think I can use one Semrush.
Comparison with Ahrefs
These two tools are often compared but in Japan the overwhelming majority of Ahrefs users.
Semrush has the top share in the world, but Ahrefs seems to have a larger user growth.
I think Ahrefs is more suitable for Japanese users for UX / UI.
For feature comparisons, if you work for an SEO agency and want to see the client’s site, you should use it with Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, etc. Semrush is fine for in-house SEO and digital marketing.
By the way, some of the features available in Ahrefs are not available in Semrush without additional charges.
For example, the ability to look up the top performance pages of competing sites.
However, personally, it is covered by other functions, so it is not a problem so far.
Which SEO expert is using?
Many SEO agencies use the combination Ahrefs + GRC + Screaming Frog.
If you’re an in-house SEO for a company and you have agency support, Semrush should be enough.
Introduction of functions
Competitive Survey-Domain Analysis
The error used to be large, but recently the accuracy has improved.
However, the number of “organic search traffic” is rather low for some reason, so it should not be used as a reference.
Ability to pull out search keywords on competing sites
It’s a super important feature that many people use in Ahrefs.
There is no problem with usability, but sometimes there are keywords for which there is no data.
Semrush launched a global volume metric, which shows you an estimate for keyword popularity globally as well as for the popular countries for your selected keywords. This comes along with the SERP analysis that will show you the top 100 Google results for your keywords as well as essential data like referring domains, backlinks and so.
Content Marketing Toolkit is one of the main reasons marketers, businesses, bloggers, and any website owner should use Semrush. This tool helps to analyze your website content from a buyers’ perspective. The 2020 Semrush updates include now a new product for content marketing teams, that’s called ImpactHero. This will identify the high-performing assets on your website, as well as it can offer improvement ideas for the content at every stage.
It’s said that Ahrefs has more data, but it doesn’t have to be that accurate, so I don’t think it’s a problem.
It is a function to find spam links, but it is convenient to be able to deny links with 3 clicks from the Semrush dashboard when linked with the search console.
I think this is the most usable function in Semrush.
Much more fulfilling than Ahrefs.
Screaming Frog and Deep Crawl may give you more detailed data, but Semrush will tell you the problem, which is helpful for technical SEO beginners.
There is also a function to filter to keywords that are ranked lower, but I think this is indispensable for modern SEO strategies.
It does not support Japanese or Chinese, but it will give you advice on internal optimization of each page.
I don’t have much advice, but it may be good for beginners.
Brand new Social Media tools
Social Media Analytics tool is essential, and it’s probably the most amazing 2020 Semrush updates. As a blogger, who’s covering different Social Media platforms, for me it is definitely a gem! But not just for bloggers, for all businesses that are present on Social Media, this new Semrush tool will save you a lot of time.
The new Social Media Analytics tool provides performance metrics, reach, new followers, and engagement metrics in one place. It covers Facebook and Instagram as well, so it is something that we, Social Media people need!
A function that automatically outputs a report.
This is pretty good and the templates are available to save you time.
It is also possible to create reports in cooperation with Google Analytics and Google My Business.
It’s not a function as SEO, but it also has a simple content calendar function.
There is added value as an all-in-one tool here and there.
How to use Semrush
A usage course is available on the YouTube channel called Semrush, so please look for it on YouTube for the time being.
Semrush hasn’t changed its pricing model since 2017, however, as mentioned, from year to year, they make significant improvements and additions to their already super powerful platform.
Note that the pricing increase will only concern users who sign up for the suite in 2021, so all of us, old users, will enjoy all the new perks and features at a good old price.
As you can see, the pricing is similar to Ahrefs.
I think it will be a Pro plan or a Guru plan, but the big difference is the number of projects (3 and 15) and the upper limit of rank tracking keywords (500 and 1500).
A company called Oro sells it as an agency and seems to provide support.
By the way, if you are good at English, the quality of Semush blog is also high, so please check it out.
Although it was a dry evaluation, I think that it has high value as an all-in-one tool because it has functions other than SEO.
Thank you for your careful reading.
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