How to Create an SEO-Friendly Website: The Complete Checklist

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An Search engine marketing-friendly (i.e., search engine-friendly) web site is one that’s technically sound, pleasant to make use of, and search-focused. Here’s a Venn diagram explaining this: An Search engine marketing-friendly web site is the intersection of those three units:

Venn diagram showing an SEO-friendly website is the intersection of 3 aspects: technically sound, delightful to use, and search-focused

If you wish to design an Search engine marketing-friendly web site or ensure that yours is like that, observe the guidelines under.

Search engine marketing-friendly web site guidelines

Your web site’s design and efficiency can affect your search rankings and even stop your website from rating. Use our guidelines to ensure your web site is each Google’s and the person’s good friend.

Complete checklist of the various things that make up an SEO-friendly website

Make your web site technically sound

First, you could assist serps discover, crawl, and index essential content material in your web site.

Points from this part of the guidelines will sometimes have to be arrange as soon as and revisited solely when you could introduce modifications (e.g., updating your sitemap).

1. Plan web site construction (for brand new websites)

Planning your web site construction could be a advanced course of, particularly when you plan on having one thing greater than a portfolio in your web site.

However, from the Search engine marketing perspective, these are the issues that basically matter:

  • Depth of the positioning construction – Try to not have essential pages too distant from the homepage (conserving at two or three clicks away is greatest and nothing additional than six clicks). This is one thing large web sites ought to particularly be careful for, as overly nested pages can get crawled much less usually.
  • Keyword optimization for top-level pages – Category pages may rank on serps. You can enhance the possibilities of that when you optimize your top-level pages for key phrases with search demand.
  • Internal hyperlinks – Among different issues, inside hyperlinks are a rating issue and may ship a sign to serps to crawl sure pages extra usually. Since hyperlinks in website navigation depend as inside hyperlinks, your essential pages can get a further Search engine marketing increase simply because they’re correctly positioned within the construction and linked within the website navigation.
Flowchart showing an example of a site structure

Tip: use colours to distinguish navigation components (right here in white) from pages (blue).

Recommended studying: Website Structure: How to Build Your Search engine marketing Foundation 

2. Set up Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is among the three free instruments you can’t do Search engine marketing confidently with out. It’s a free device made for monitoring your website’s natural search efficiency on Google’s search engine (92.07% market share worldwide).

Setting up GSC is important for creating an Search engine marketing-friendly web site as a result of it permits you to:

  • Find web site errors.
  • Find alternatives for UX enhancements (e.g., web page pace).
  • Submit sitemaps (one of many subsequent steps in our guidelines).

On high of that, GSC may also allow you to see the key phrases you rank for (as much as 1,000 within the device itself) and test rating positions.

GSC's Performance report

You can get GSC here.

Recommended studying: How to Use Google Search Console to Improve Search engine marketing (Beginner’s Guide)

3. Set up Bing Webmaster Tools

Microsoft’s Bing Webmaster Tools is an equal of GSC that you must use to get knowledge from Bing’s search engine (the second-biggest search engine).

Bing Webmaster Tools' Search Performance report

You can get Bing Webmaster Tools here.

4. Set up Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) is our free device that helps to enhance a web site’s Search engine marketing efficiency and get extra natural search site visitors.

Another method to consider it’s that the device takes off the place GSC leaves you:

  • It routinely screens your web site for 100+ Search engine marketing points—and emails you the report when you want.
  • It exhibits all identified backlinks with helpful Search engine marketing metrics.
  • It exhibits all identified key phrases with helpful Search engine marketing metrics.

Get it without spending a dime right here: Webmaster instruments – Audit & Improve Your Website.

SEO health report results

Sample e-mail Search engine marketing well being report from AWT.

Recommended viewing: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) – Our Free SEO Tool

5. Create and submit a sitemap

A sitemap is a file saved in your server that tells serps the place to search out essential content material in your web site. Moreover, it could possibly additionally present info about that content material, such because the video working time or publication date of an article. All this knowledge helps serps crawl your website extra effectively.

Excerpt of a sitemap by YoastSEO

Most CMSs can create sitemaps for you. This is an excerpt of a sitemap created by the YoastSEO plugin.

Generally talking, serps (not less than Google) are designed to work with out the necessity for sitemaps—inside hyperlinks and backlinks are all they want. However, in case your web site is absolutely large (over 500 pages), has remoted pages, or has few or no backlinks, you must create a sitemap and submit it.

Recommended studying: How to Create an XML Sitemap (And Submit It to Google) 

6. Create a robots.txt file

Plainly talking, a robots.txt file is a textual content file that tells serps the place they’ll and may’t go in your website.

It’s in serps’ “nature” to crawl just about every thing they stumble throughout. On the one hand, that’s factor since you need folks to search out stuff that you just publish. But there are some conditions the place you gained’t need that to occur. For instance, the cart web page or pages generated by faceted navigation.

Example of robot's disallow directive

So principally, you will have to create a robots.txt file solely once you wish to maintain some components of your web site inaccessible to serps.

But you may additionally wish to test if there’s an present robots file (created routinely by your CMS or by your web site developer) to ensure that essential pages are crawlable. Just go to and see if there’s something there.

Additionally, you could wish to see the Coverage report in GSC to test for any undesirable robotic guidelines that will block sure pages.

Coverage report results in GSC

Recommended studying: Robots.txt and Search engine marketing: Everything You Need to Know 

7. Make certain your web site is indexable

Indexability refers to a search engine’s capacity to investigate and retailer a webpage in its database.

Despite a web page being accessible to go looking engine internet crawlers, that web page can nonetheless not present up on the SERPs. This occurs within the following conditions:

  • Noindex” worth within the robots meta tag in robots.txt file
  • Noindex” or “none” worth in x-robots-tag in HTTP response header

Make certain {that a} web page doesn’t have these tags in order for you it to rank. You can test that within the Coverage report inside GSC or the Indexability report in Ahrefs’ Site Audit (a part of AWT).

Indexability report results in Site Audit

Keep in thoughts, although, that these tags are nonetheless helpful. For instance, you could wish to noindex sure pages like thank-you pages or inside search outcomes.

8. Make certain your web site is accessible at just one area

In different phrases, you could select the canonical area title. This will make your website seem constant to customers and internet crawlers and forestall points like diluted hyperlink fairness (this could occur when some web sites hyperlink to the HTTP model and others hyperlink to the HTTPS model).

With AWT put in, go to the Site Audit device and open the Page explorer report. Inside the report, insert these 4 variations of your area utilizing the “Advanced” filter:


Like this:

Advanced filters in Page explorer report

What you wish to see is a) your required URL to report a “200” (ideally the HTTPS model) and b) others reporting a “301” redirect to that “200” web page. If that’s not the case, you will have to use redirects to non-canonical domains.

Table showing http status codes for a few URLs

Recommended studying: 301 Redirects for Search engine marketing: Everything You Need to Know 

Make your web site pleasant to use

How customers understand your web site will not be one thing that Google ignores fully.

Points from this part of the guidelines will sometimes have to be arrange as soon as.

1. Make certain your website is mobile-friendly

Google is utilizing mobile-first indexing. This signifies that it indexes and ranks content material based mostly on cellular variations of webpages. Consequently, having a web site optimized for cellular units is “strongly recommended,” as Google places it in its documentation.

You can test in case your web site is mobile-friendly within the eyes of Google utilizing its test tool or use the Mobile Usability report in GSC.

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool

2. Make certain your website hundreds quick

Loading pace is a rating issue and the fundament of Core Web Vitals, that are efficiency metrics used for measuring person expertise.

Rest assured—Google nonetheless promotes probably the most related content material in its database. But when every thing else is analogous or equal, Google could rank the quicker web page greater. 

Performance report results in Site Audit

You can monitor your web site for pace points with Ahrefs’ Site Audit. For this, use the Performance report.

Recommended studying: How to Improve Page Speed From Start to Finish (Advanced Guide) 

3. Make certain you’re utilizing HTTPS

Just as Google needs to offer helpful pages, it needs to offer safe pages too. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, i.e., the safe model of HTTP.

Secure connection at

Users can inform straight away in case your web site is utilizing HTTPS or not.

This step is kind of simple. You simply have to get an SSL certificates and add it to your website (the best method is to get one out of your internet hosting supplier). You may even get one without spending a dime here (sure, Google acknowledges it too).

Recommended studying: What Is HTTPS? Everything You Need to Know 

4. Avoid intrusive interstitials

The final on the listing of page experience signals. To Google, a web page with out intrusive pop-up home windows is a usable website—and it’s exhausting to disagree with that.

There are some exceptions to this rule, although. Google “accepts”:

  • Messages displayed out of authorized obligation (e.g., cookies consent).
  • Login dialogs for pages with out public entry (e.g., content material behind paywall).
  • Banners that use an affordable quantity of display house.

Infographic showing pop-ups of cookies consent or ads taking up a reasonable space are Google-approved

Recommended studying: Interstitials and Dialogs | Google Search Central | Documentation

Make your web site search-focused

Craft your content material with searchers and linkers in thoughts.

Points from this part of the guidelines must be arrange for every new content material that you just wish to rank.

1. Choose the correct key phrase

If you wish to get site visitors from serps, you could create content material about one thing folks seek for. And one of the best ways to do that is to optimize your content material for key phrase.

Here’s what makes key phrase for Search engine marketing:

  • Search site visitors potential – Generally talking, the extra usually folks search for one thing on-line, the extra site visitors these key phrases can generate. But this isn’t a rule, and it might differ from key phrase to key phrase. It’s greatest to test the site visitors potential on your key phrases as properly.
  • Search intent – People use serps to both be taught one thing, purchase one thing, or discover a particular website—that is their search intent. When selecting a key phrase, you could be certain that your content material matches what folks wish to see within the search outcomes. 
  • Business potential – A key phrase could convey you site visitors. But will it additionally convey you new enterprise? Prioritize matters extremely related to what you supply so as to naturally characteristic your services or products. 
  • Not too tough to rank – The quickest method to estimate that is to make use of a metric like our Keyword Difficulty (KD). But you may additionally have to take different elements into consideration (see really helpful studying under).
Matching terms report results for "tea"

What is a tea pet? It’s one in all 1,500+ key phrases that aren’t aggressive and have appreciable search volumes associated to tea. Something I’d positively wish to cowl on my weblog about tea (could even embrace an affiliate hyperlink there—get it?).

2. Make your content material fascinating and helpful

Google admits that the only strongest rating issue is the content material itself. Namely, the content material’s usefulness and its capacity to seize readers’ curiosity. In Google’s personal phrases:

Except of Google's article talking about the importance of creating compelling and useful content

So listed here are some suggestions that may make it easier to make your content material fascinating and helpful. Ensure it is:

  • Easy to learn.
  • Clearly organized.
  • Fresh.
  • Unique.
  • Aligned with E-A-T tips.
  • Focused on offering important info to unravel a searcher’s downside (this brings us again to the search intent).

All of the above refers to designing content material for searchers. But there are additionally “linkers,” i.e., individuals who won’t solely learn your content material but additionally embrace a hyperlink to it on their web sites.

Why design for linkers? Because hyperlinks from exterior web sites (backlinks) are some of the essential rating elements for Google. More backlinks from distinctive domains = greater rankings = extra site visitors. Generally talking.

You can enhance your possibilities of incomes or constructing hyperlinks when you make your content material link-worthy. That means together with one thing so invaluable and fascinating that bloggers and journalists will wish to hyperlink to it (aka hyperlink bait).

Except of Ahrefs' blog article showing a graphic about long-tail keywords

If you wished to hyperlink to useful resource on, say, long-tail key phrases, it’d positively be one thing that features a graphic explaining what they’re, proper?

You may create content material only for the linkers. It’s OK if it has minimal search quantity, so long as it’s engaging to your target market.

Site Explorer overview of an article about how 90.63% of content gets no traffic from Google and how to be in the minority that does

Very low site visitors. But it’s all proper—that is hyperlink bait content material.

3. Optimize title and outline tags

There are two the reason why you could optimize title tags: They are a rating issue (a small one), and folks see them on the SERPs. So you must:

  • Make the title eye-catching and correct.
  • Insert the goal key phrase in your title. It works. Keyword stuffing doesn’t.
  • Fit them inside 60 characters.
Example of title tag

Points #1, #2, and #3 checked.

There is one purpose why you could optimize description tags: People see them on the SERPs. Here are some good practices for attractive searchers to click on. You ought to:

  • Make your description compelling. Reassure readers that that is the content material they’ve been in spite of everything alongside.
  • Ensure the outline will not be longer than 920 px (attempt SERPSim).
  • Keep the outline related to the title of the web page (and vice versa).
  • Use a novel description for each web page.
Example of meta description that may be a bit too plain; it satisfies the other points, though

Points #2, #3, and #4 checked. Point #1? Hmmm.

4. Add schema markup

Schema markup is a code that helps serps to know your content material and higher symbolize it within the search outcomes.

For instance, to show a picture subsequent to your Fender Stratocaster overview, you’ll have to deploy a code like this:

"picture": {

"@context": "",

"@sort": "ImageObject",

"url": "yourimage.url",

"top": "689",

"width": "1225”


Example of ratings found under various results on a Google SERP

Stands out on the SERPS fairly properly, proper? Those star scores and thumbnails are served to the searcher through just a few tags within the schema markup.

There are various kinds of schema for various events: evaluations, FAQs, individual, place, group, and plenty of extra. All of them will assist Google present wealthy outcomes on the SERPs (like those within the image above) on your pages and probably convey you extra clicks. Here’s the complete schema documentation.

You can create and take a look at your schema markup with instruments like  

Recommended studying: What Is Schema Markup? How to Use It for Search engine marketing

5. Use brief and descriptive URLs

An Search engine marketing-friendly URL is principally a user-friendly URL. So when optimizing your URLs, you must do it with the person in thoughts. That’s the way you’ll make two pals with one reward.

Here’s an instance:

This URL makes use of HTTPS, doesn’t have an excessively nested construction, and signifies clearly what the web page is about. So when customers see this URL on the SERPs, they’ll know the web page is definitely about one thing they’re on the lookout for. And after they click on on it, the URL will point out the place within the website construction they are.

Recommended studying: How to Create Search engine marketing-Friendly URLs (Step-by-Step)

6. Link to related sources

You likely gained’t bounce in rankings simply by including outbound hyperlinks to your content material (they’re most likely not a rating issue). But you should still wish to add outbound hyperlinks to quote your sources and hyperlink to useful supplies on the matter.

According to this video from Google:


Linking to different web sites is a good way to offer worth to your customers. Oftentimes, hyperlinks assist customers to search out out extra, to take a look at your sources and to higher perceive how your content material is related to the questions that they have.

John Mueller

So together with related outbound hyperlinks is a greatest apply when creating good content material. But on high of that, citing your sources will make it easier to to align your content material with E-A-T search high quality tips, that are particularly essential for Your Money or Your Life matters (well being, finance, security, and so on.).

Recommended studying: What Is EAT? Why It’s Important for Search engine marketing 

7. Optimize photos

In brief, optimizing photos for Search engine marketing means you could do three issues:

  • Compress photos – You can use a plugin like ShortPixel or a bulk picture optimizer like Kraken
  • Use descriptive picture file names – Yes, Google can (and doubtless will) learn the names of your picture recordsdata to know what they’re about.
  • Use descriptive alt texts – Alt texts serve a few functions. Yet they’re usually neglected. Not solely do they assist visually impaired customers, however additionally they might help Google perceive the context of your web page and make it easier to rank on Google Images.
Laptop on a table next to a cup of coffee and glass coffee pot

Alt textual content for this good picture must be one thing like “a laptop on a table next to coffee.” “A coffee pot and a mug admiring a Surface laptop while no one’s looking” is my subsequent guess.

8. Add inside hyperlinks

Last however not least, don’t neglect about inside hyperlinks, i.e., hyperlinks from one other web page on the identical web site.

Make no mistake—inside hyperlinks are a rating issue. They are actually essential. Google makes use of inside hyperlinks to:

  • Discover new pages – Internal hyperlinks present a crawl path to focus on pages.
  • Pass hyperlink fairness between your pages – Internal linking can increase different pages in your web site.
  • Understand what a web page is about – Understanding the content material of your pages helps Google rank them. The anchor textual content of the interior hyperlink issues too.

So be certain that to interlink related content material in your web site and remember the fact that you should use hyperlinks to spice up different pages (aka the Middleman Method).

Advanced filters in Internal link opportunities report

The extra content material you will have, the more durable it’s to maintain up with inside linking. This is the place AWT can do the heavy lifting for you. You can use the routinely generated report or use the “Advanced” filter to see hyperlink alternatives to a selected web page.

Final ideas

All in all, that is various work. And sadly, there’s no method round it. But you may make your job simpler when you’ve received the correct instruments.

First of all, you could wish to take a better have a look at the “SEO-friendliness” of the CMS that your web site is constructed with.

Some CMSs will attempt to simplify issues as a lot as potential, which may end up in much less room for personalisation. Others would require extra consideration from you however provide you with extra potentialities in return. These three articles ought to make it easier to make a extra knowledgeable selection:

Secondly, as talked about in our guidelines, be certain that to arrange Search engine marketing audit instruments for automated Search engine marketing well being monitoring (amongst others). As you add extra content material to your website, you could run into Search engine marketing points like damaged hyperlinks, damaged photos, or canonicalization points. An audit device will catch them for you.

One final piece of recommendation: If you will have a JavaScript-heavy web site, be certain that to take a look at some extra steps lined on this information.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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