If you are a beginner in SEO and looking for an easy-to-follow technical SEO checklist guide, this is the perfect webpage for you.
The problem with technical SEO is that it can quickly become confusing and cumbersome to keep up with all the maintenance required.
This can become a big deal if you have a lot of people who use the backend of your website. There’s a high chance that something technical may get broken and you are not able to diagnose it and fix it quickly.
This is where a technical SEO checklist can be helpful because it gives you something to quickly follow in order to get things back up and running.
With that being said, here is my technical SEO checklist that you can follow. I also included a video you can watch below if you prefer to listen and watch instead.
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Check For Multiple Versions of Your Website
- Step 2: Check For Indexing Issues
- Step 3: Evaluate Website Speed
- Step 4: Assess Mobile-Friendliness
- Step 5: Review URL Structure
- Step 6: Check the Robots.txt File
- Step 7: Check XML Sitemap
- Step 8: Verify HTTPS and SSL Certificates
- Step 9: Audit for Duplicate and Low-Value Content
- Step 10: Check for Broken Links
- Step 11: Check For Enhancements
Technical SEO Checklist Video Tutorial
I also included a video you can watch below if you prefer to listen and watch instead.
Step 1: Check For Multiple Versions of Your Website
A lot of website owners do not know or realize that there is more than one way to access their website. This is perfectly normal. However, you want to make sure each “version” goes to the secure version of your website.
For example, https://www.bouncerank.com and http://www.bouncerank.com are two different versions of our site bouncerank but they should all go to the same webpage.
How to check the multiple versions of your site:
- Go to your preferred web browser
- Type in these 4 different versions of the homepage URL:
They should all redirect to one URL. If not, set up 301 redirects to avoid duplicate content problems.
Step 2: Check For Indexing Issues
One thing I always tell clients is that no matter how great your content is, if it never reaches the index then it is useless. So I think it very important to make sure that your webpages are actually being indexed.
Here’s how to see if you are having indexing issues:
- Log into your Google Search Console account.
- Select the “Index coverage” report in Google Search Console and review the result.
You can also follow up by running a crawl on a website crawling software like Screaming Frog, this will provide you with additional insights on specific pages and issues to fix.
The goal is to compare the number of indexed pages to the actual number of pages on your site to ensure there are no discrepancies.
Another way you can check Google’s index is to use a search operator. In the Google search bar, you type in the command:
The “websitename” you can swap in for your unique site. So for instance:
This is not a foolproof way to see the index because all your web pages may not be shown, but it is a good way to take a quick temperature check.
Step 3: Evaluate Website Speed
To check your website’s loading speed, do the following:
- Go to your preferred browser and visit https://pagespeed.web.dev.
- On the page speed insights website, enter your homepage URL and other essential web pages on your site.
- View the results and see where you need to make improvements.
Essentially, by doing this you are checking and evaluating your website’s core web vitals, or the metrics that search engines like Google, use to determine the overall viability and usefulness of your website.
So it is imperative that you make a habit of checking your website speed regularly, especially if your website is very picture-heavy.
Images naturally take up a lot of space and can slow down your website. So keep that in mind as you are optimizing your website for speed.
Step 4: Assess Mobile-Friendliness
Ensure your website is mobile-friendly by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test or similar tools.
Mobile responsiveness is crucial, as search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their rankings. Optimize your website’s design and layout to ensure a seamless experience across different devices.
To check your website’s mobile friendliness, do the following:
- Using your preferred web browser visit: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.
- Enter your website into the test bar.
- Wait for your results (it may take a minute or two).
- Review the results (take a screenshot so you can refer back to it later and measure your website’s progress over time).
Since 2015, having a mobile-friendly website has been a key factor that search engines use to rank websites. Essentially if you’re website is not mobile-friendly, you will not be able to produce a seamless user experience, and thus your chance of ranking is diminished significantly.
So it is worth your time to invest in a website that is mobile-friendly.
Step 5: Review URL Structure
URL structure honestly can apply both to technical and on-page SEO, but URL structure in technical SEO holds significant weight because URLs that are descriptive, have relevant keywords in them, are short and readable, and are preferred by search engines.
Also, they are much easier to remember and read for humans.
Here’s how to review yours:
- Gather a list of all your website’s URLs.
- Examine them, Are they descriptive and user-friendly? Do they contain relevant keywords?
- Make note of this, and for new URLs make sure they are easy to read.
We recommend to clients to not change URLs unless it makes sense to do so.
As in the page is not performing well. The reason is, that you will run into major indexing issues. So generally speaking, keep your URLs the same.
Step 6: Check the Robots.txt File
A Robots.txt file is a text file that is stored on your website and contains directives for web crawlers (such as Google) that tell them which pages they can and cannot crawl and index.
Essentially the file is used to influence web crawler behavior, I say influence because the crawlers may or may not follow the directives specified, but nonetheless, it is still good SEO hygiene to have one, especially if you are in the middle of a website migration.
We created a post further exploring how to write a robots.txt file. But here’s how to check to see if you have one:
Here’s how to check your robots.txt:
- Go to the browser and type your domain name in the address bar. At the end of your domain name, include this slug: /robots.txt.
- Type enter, and then view your robots.txt file to ensure it aligns with your website’s requirements and goals.
- Look for User-Agent directives, Review the Allow and Disallow directives to ensure they accurately reflect the areas of your website that should be allowed or disallowed for crawling. If you have specified the location of your XML sitemap in your robots.txt file, ensure that the sitemap URL is accurate.
- Validate the Robots.txt File, you can use online tools or validators specifically designed for this purpose. Sign in to the webmaster tools provided by search engines like Google, Bing, or Yandex. Locate the section where you can test or fetch your robots.txt file. Use this feature to ensure that search engines can access and interpret your robots.txt file correctly.
Regularly monitor your website’s behavior and search engine crawling patterns to ensure your robots.txt file is functioning as intended.
Make updates to the file when necessary, such as when you want to allow or disallow access to specific pages or directories.
Step 7: Check XML Sitemap
When comes to following a technical SEO checklist having an updated XML sitemap is key. It is a file that lists all the URLs on your website and how to find them.
Your XML sitemap is typically located in the root directory of your website. It is often named “sitemap.xml” or similar. If you’re not sure where to find it, you can check your website’s robots.txt file, which usually contains a reference to the sitemap’s location.
To check your XML sitemap, follow these steps:
- Go to the browser and type your domain name in the address bar. At the end of your domain name, including this slug: /sitemap.xml
- Type enter, and then view your sitemap file, Check the structure of your XML sitemap to ensure it follows the proper format. The sitemap should be well-formed XML and include necessary elements like <urlset>, <url>, <loc>, and <lastmod>. Each URL entry should have its corresponding <loc> element, indicating the URL of the page.
- Review the list of URLs in your XML sitemap. Make sure that all important pages of your website are included. Check for any missing or omitted pages that should be present in the sitemap. If any URLs are missing, you may need to update your sitemap generation process.
- Check that your XML sitemap is error-free, you can use online XML sitemap validators. Several free tools are available that allow you to submit your XML sitemap for validation.
- Once you have confirmed that your XML sitemap is accurate and error-free, submit it to search engines.
- Sign in to the webmaster tools provided by search engines like Google, Bing, or Yandex, and locate the section where you can submit or add your sitemap. Follow the instructions provided by the specific search engine to submit your XML sitemap.
Regularly monitor your XML sitemap to ensure it stays up to date. Whenever you add or remove pages from your website, make sure to update your XML sitemap accordingly. Additionally, periodically check your search engine’s webmaster tools for any reported issues or errors related to your XML sitemap.
Step 8: Verify HTTPS and SSL Certificates
Check if your website is secured with HTTPS and has a valid SSL certificate. HTTPS is an important ranking factor, and it ensures secure communication between your website and users. Make sure all internal and external links are using the HTTPS protocol.
Here’s how to check your website’s SSL status:
- Type your website in your browser’s address bar, and press enter.
- Check to see if a “green lock” is displayed on the left side of your browser.
- Spot-check a few other pages on your website to see if the lock is displayed.
- If it is not, you need to contact your hosting provider to get an SSL certificate installed.
Having a secure website is not just about ranking, it is also important to have if you plan on keeping sensitive or personal information about your users on your website.
Step 9: Audit for Duplicate and Low-Value Content
Google has a limited amount of time that it spends on each website to find content. This “crawl budget” or the amount of time they will spend before moving on, can be affected by having pages that are duplicates, or just have low value (Like archive pages, category pages, UTM parameters, tag pages, etc.). All of these types of pages should be removed from your website or at least given a meta robots no index tag.
Here is how you find these types of pages:
- Go to your preferred browser and go to Google.com.
- Check how many pages are in Google’s index by typing site:example.com” into the Google search bar.
- Additionally, in Google search console, check your “Indexing Coverage” report to see if there are any pages that were “crawled but not indexed” or that are labeled as “duplicates” in the report.
These “Zombie”, or dead pages are best to delete or no index, doing so can improve your crawl rate and rankings.
Step 10: Check for Broken Links
When comes to following this technical SEO checklist looking for broken links is something that should be the most ongoing.
A broken link is a link on your website that does not work. Broken links are basically dead ends. Have you ever gone on a website, clicked a link, and got a “404” error? Broken links are frustrating and it’s important to know if you have any.
You can check for broken links by:
- Log into your Google Search Console account.
- Go to your “Index Coverage” report view your website’s URL and identify the ones that have a 404 error.
- Take note of the broken links and create 301 redirects.
Having too many broken links is not just troublesome for search engines, it is also a major user experience issue. This is why we often recommend to clients that when attending to technical SEO, this is one of the first things they should go about fixing.
Step 11: Check For Enhancements
When Google shows your content in the search results there may be times when they choose to show it larger, or more prominent these “rich results” can be influenced by you with structured data, or Schema markup.
To check to see if your website has structured data do this:
- Go to Google Search console.
- Go to the “enhancements menu”, and under this menu, you can see all the structured data that is currently on your website. If there is none, then you don’t have any structured data.
- Use a schema markup generator to generate the code for the markup. For blogs use article schema, for product pages use product schema, for local businesses use local business schema. Refer to this post for more markup types to add.
- Implement one instance of schema in the <head> HTML section of each page.
Schema markup is not only great for getting a rich snippet, but also for helping Google understand the content of your website and making your website more accessible to users.
If you have a WordPress website and want to learn how to create structured data. We have a video walking you through how to write schema markup for a WordPress website, that you can check out.
Implementing the Technical SEO Checklist For the Future
The goal of this technical SEO checklist is to give you a rough idea of how to go about Regularly monitoring your website’s technical SEO performance and making necessary updates as your site evolves.
But in order to stay current and updated, you should regularly monitor industry trends, search engine algorithm changes, and best practices to continuously improve your website’s technical SEO.
This was an excerpt of the model from the Technical SEO checklist, I included in my SEO Strategy playbook, if you wish to have access to the whole playbook that also includes an on-page and off-page checklist, then access it via the link below.
Remember, technical SEO is an ongoing process, and it’s important to perform these steps often, until next time.
Want more Technical SEO knowledge, visit my free technical SEO course.