Free Guide: Onsite SEO Checklist

Whether you are using a template from this site or designing one from scratch, it is important to make your website SEO friendly.

We have created an onsite SEO checklist that you can use to check if your website is SEO friendly.

Google looks at 100s, if not 1000s of different factors when examining your site, and we can’t include them all – but we can list some of the biggest and most important.

If you stick to the guidelines in the check list, and also stick to the general rule of making your site user friendly and focused on quality - you will most likely do well.

SEO Checklist

XML Sitemap

Every good site needs an .xml sitemap. This is a bit like a road-map of your site. Google can check it to make sure it has an accurate up-to-date list of all the pages on your website.

You can generate a free sitemap at

HTML Sitemap

A HTML sitemap is basically a list of pages on your site, viewable in the browser. This means that both your users and Google can use it to find their way around your website.

Unlike an .xml sitemap which is mostly just for bots, a HTML sitemap is formatted just like a normal webpage on your site, so that it is easy for users to navigate and consistent with the rest of the site.

Rel Canonical tags

Canonical tags prevent SEO problems arising in the future. Find out more about what they are here, and check out the video from Matt Cutts.

Alt attribute on images

As making your HTML compliant – the alt attribute provides useful information to Google. If you have a picture of a dog with a bone – and something like alt=”Dog with a bone”. Easy and effective.

Unique content

One of the golden rules of SEO is to always use unique content. Don’t copy it from elsewhere on the web and reuse it. Not only are you potentially stealing/breaking the law – you are going to be devaluing your site in terms of how Google sees it. This also includes taking content from other pages of your site and duplicating it – avoid this where possible. You can use CopyScape to check for duplicate content on your site.

Title tag

Often described as the single most important SEO attribute on any webpage – writing a good title tag is very important. As well as making sure you use your targeted keywords here – also think about making the title ‘clickable’ – as it will be the link that users can click to get to your site.

Meta description

This is the description text that users see in Google. Make sure it is useful and descriptive to users. Don’t try to cram in too many keywords.

Navigation links

Having a good navigation system is a vital factor on most websites. As well as being useful for users, it can also help Google to understand the structure of the site.

Contact, Privacy and Cookie policy

These technically aren’t SEO factors – or at least not traditionally speaking – but they are all pages that are more or less essential on a high quality website. By this measure, Google may think that a site that doesn’t bother including – for example a privacy policy – is more likely to be lower quality and less trust worthy.

W3 Compliance – html

Run your code through the W3C Markup Validation Service. Having quality code is important for lots of reasons – too many to list here – but in terms of search engines, it is possible that bots may be confused by bad code. If a bot (in particular Googlebot) can’t find it’s way round your site it may lead to problems. Your site doesn’t have to be absolutely 100% error free, but the closer you can get to this the better.

Webpage load speed

A fast loading website is vital for both users (they will leave if your site is too slow!) and for Google. Google know that users don’t like slow sites – so if your webpage is unbearably slow, you can expect Google to return the favour and cut the traffic.

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If you like my website templates, please consider a small donation to support their production. If you wish to use a template without the link back to ARaynorDesign, all I ask is for a donation of £20.00 GBP. Please let me know the URL of the site where you will be using the template without the link.

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