Complete SEO Checklist 2020


What Authors, Editors, and SEO Experts Need to Know When Publishing Pixel Plus agency provides a detailed checklist for the media – the implementation of its items will increase SEO traffic. Search queries for which the media collects organic traffic can be divided into three types: event, brand and phrases with steady demand.

SEO role in overall traffic structure

If you take the TOP-100 sites in the media topics by overall coverage from the google service and analyze traffic sources using Similar Web, you can create a chart of the significance of the channels of attraction (news aggregators are excluded in the sample).

Direct – direct visits to the site itself. Referral – click through links from, say google. Search – traffic from search engines, this includes contextual advertising, but its share for the media is less than 0.1%. Social Networks – Social networks, including YouTube. E-mail – calls from mailing lists. Media – transitions from banners and other online media.

Interestingly, the list contains resources for which the share of search traffic significantly exceeds the average value for the sample. For example, , the share of SEO traffic is 39% (29 million visits per month) , which is more than the absolute number of visitors from search by more venerable competitors –,, and all other sites in the subject . For, the share is 37% (more than 13 million per month). At, by the way, the percentage is also nothing – 36.5.

A significant part of the organic traffic from the prepared sites indicates a huge potential for the rest of the media, which have not yet learned how to use SEO so effectively. Why? Let’s get it right.

In the manual you will find the following checklists:

  • Technical optimization .
  • Competent structure .
  • General requirements .
  • Work with search queries (semantics) .
  • Content of articles / texts .
  • External links .
  • Behavioral factors .
  • UGC (work with user content) .

SEO gives us 18% of the traffic, but could all 40%

To activate the organic traffic channel and attract an additional ten million visits per month, authors and editors need to consider a number of search engine optimization requirements. The soil prepared for this in the form of technical optimization and competent structure is no less important.

Search Traffic Funnel

In order for the user to get to the site, you need to go through 7 circles of hell (in fact, only 5).

The first step is to visit the URL with a search engine robot (crawler), followed by indexing (if the robot likes the document). After that, it will begin to be ranked according to requests and, if the algorithm likes it even more and matches the user’s needs, it can get into the TOP search results, where they can notice it and go to the site itself.

In total, to get your several million visitors, you need

  1. To ensure that the search and content pages are visited by search engine robots Yandex and Google.
  2. Make them like URLs and index them.
  3. Achieve a match between user needs and page content.
  4. Consider basic SEO requirements to rank higher than your competitors.
  5. Attract visitors from the SERP and convert impressions to conversions (click through rate CTR).

The article is devoted to the analysis of these 5 steps.

Technical optimization and competent structure

These two types of work are aimed at solving the problem of indexing documents. If the site is technically optimized and you can just get to articles / news / materials, then the goal will be fulfilled. Alas, it is here that the spears of most media break down (poor technical condition and an ill-conceived structure).

Checklist of technical optimization for the media (pass it to the programmer)

  • The site is accessible by a single spelling of the domain name. From other versions (www / without www / aliases) – 301 redirect is configured.
  • There is an adaptive version of the site (optimally) with uniform URLs for users on desktops and portable devices.
  • The source code download time and page size do not exceed 700 milliseconds and 200-220 KB (simple assessment, it is even better to evaluate points by Page Speed ​​Insights).
  • Using HTTPS (there is a signed SSL certificate).
  • The site has no links to pages with a 40x and 50x server response code.
  • For non-existent documents, a 404 error page is configured.
  • The Last-Modified header is configured and the server returns a 304 response code when requesting with If-Modified-Since, if the document has not been modified since the specified date.
  • The document code is “clean” (does not contain redundant snippets with CSS, JS and comments).
  • If the page on the site is deleted, then a 301 redirect to the closest material or to the root category is configured from the old URL.
  • Configured a 301 redirect to the only correct version of the spelling of the URL – with or without a slash at the end.
  • XML site map (sitemap.xml) is kept up to date. The maximum number of links in one file is 50,000, if necessary, use several.
  • Micro-marking is used to indicate the type of material and for breadcrumbs.
  • Technical subdomains are closed from indexing (version for testing and development, old version, others).
  • The search engine index does not have full copies of documents. The best solution is to set the attribute rel = “canonical”.

Competent structure checklist (hand it over to the technical director, project manager and designer)

  • All the main sections of the site are available in one click from the main and there are end-to-end links to them.
  • Used by the CNC (only at the address of the document you can understand what the page is dedicated to).
  • Each page is accessible only on one URL.
  • Most pages of the site are available no more than 3 clicks from the main. Less important – 4-5 clicks, but no more.
  • At least 10-15 internal links lead to content pages (similar materials, collections of articles, tags, …).
  • The address of each page of the site is easy to read and contains words specifying the topic of the section or page.
  • URL shorter than 110-130 characters.
  • Internal links to various pages are anchored to and from pages (contextual linking).

Everything looks simple and clear and note that there are not many points in the check lists, but, most sites do not comply with these recommendations. This leads to a decrease in the number of pages in the Google and Google index and a significant loss of search traffic.

General page content requirements

Before proceeding to specific recommendations on the text and content of articles for authors and editors in the media, we list the general requirements that apply to all pages of the resource.

Checklist with general requirements (well, if all the employees who work with the project will be aware of it)

  • Each URL has at least 500 words.
  • Each page on the site solves some problem of the user, who may not get it. The task can be expressed as a search query.
  • The document has a non-empty browser title bar Title and a text heading h1. It is desirable that they do not coincide completely, but complement each other.
  • Advertising should not block the content, be shocking or be false.
  • The amount of advertising should be less than the valuable content.
  • There are links to other URLs from the page. The page also has links from other URLs within the project.
  • The site has information about the publisher, editor in chief, authors. It is desirable – details and address.
  • Work with search queries

For an article to attract traffic from a search, it must match the needs of real users. Phrases, in the case of the media, can be divided into three types:

Branded: Requests in which the brand (name) of the publication is found. In most cases, to get to the 1st place on these requests no additional efforts are required. But, it is recommended to regularly monitor visibility for this group and verify that it is as close as possible to 100%.

Eventful: Requests that are directly related to events in the country and the world, it can be a sporting event, an exhibition or a disaster. It is required to quickly respond to these events and prepare stories and articles aimed at revealing the topic. One of the key factors here is the speed of publication.

With constant demand: Requests for which users have a constant interest. For these needs on the site there must be permanent categories, sections, plots, subsections or tags. These URLs can act as traffic distribution nodes for other pages (hubs ).

Each public page on the site can attract search traffic if it is correctly optimized in accordance with a specific user need. The list of queries that promote a site or document is called the semantic core.

Checklist of work with search queries (pass it to the authors, editors and SEO-specialist)

  • Choose a topic for which there is steady demand for Google Trends or it corresponds to the current event, news. A few tips on how to use the Wordstat service effectively. Focus on queries with frequencies of 20-50 impressions per month or more.
  • To analyze the dynamics of demand for weeks and months in google, use the “Request History” tab in Wordstat.
  • If the demand is large (more than 8-10 different phrases), then do not try to cover all the needs on one page at once, concentrate on a more detailed one (break down the requests). For quick and correct grouping, use the analysis of the similarity of the results for 2 or more phrases.
  • For queries with large frequency values ​​(the exact frequency is more than 80-150) and steady demand, it is necessary to create categories, sections, plots, subsections or tags.
  • For each new news or article, collect 2 or more requests for which it will be targeted. To analyze constant demand, use Google Trends; to identify events, use search hints . A number of tips are of a special news character; when writing, it is better to focus on them. For each important news in google, these tips appear. To search for common trends – Media Metrics and Media2 aggregators.

Content: article content, h1, Title, Meta tags

The fun begins. If the project goes through the checklists that are compiled above, then half of the work has already been done. It remains to make the page itself meet the real needs of the user (a checklist for working with the semantic core) and the search engine understand this well. The factors listed below help us get into SERPs and rank high.

Checklist for working with article content (pass it on to authors and editors)

  • The page has a unique Title tag.
  • The text should contain all the words from the selected search queries. It is optimal that each word occurs at least 3 times.
  • The phrase with the highest value of the exact frequency occurs in the exact form (just like in the query) or as close to it as possible.
  • All or almost words from the semantic core of the document are found in Title (the title of the browser window).
  • Headings (h1-h3) contain words from queries. The main heading (h1) must match the content and be in the singular.
  • Synonyms of promoted phrases are used. You can use common synonyms that come to mind and words from the backlight in the search results (ask a search and see the words in bold).
  • The text is divided into paragraphs of 4-7 sentences.
  • If appropriate, the text has at least 1 enumeration list or table.
  • In the text there is at least 1 illustration for 1,500 characters.
  • The text on the page is unique to other sites and within the current project.
  • Content carries additional value to the reader. Why is the article better and more interesting for the visitor, in comparison with similar materials on the topic? Options: completeness of information, research, reliability, unexpected look at the problem, UGC, research, thoughtful structure.
  • Mention related publications in the text and provide links to them. Link texts (anchors) should be informative. Unsuccessful options: here, here, by reference.
  • Use captions for illustrations, such pictures attract 2 times more attention.
  • Description meta-tag is filled, it reflects the content of the page, contains words from queries and is 160-220 characters long.

To automatically satisfy a significant part of these requirements, be sure to use the Title and meta tag templates. If manual optimization is required, then the tags written by the author should have higher priority than the template ones.

External links, citation

When ranking search engines take into account the quantity, quality and dynamics of the link mass to the site and a specific URL, as well as a combination of link texts (anchors) and document content.

Google teams spend a lot of time developing and improving anti-spam algorithms that filter unnatural links. The quality of the donor and the parameters of the acceptor and the properties of the link itself are taken into account.

There are more than a hundred link factors, each of them describes a particular property of a particular link or their combination rationality, thematic, time of appearance, and so on. It is important to take time for this group of factors and analyze it.

Checklist of work with links (pass it to the project manager, manager for work with partners and SEO-specialist)

  • Try to get links to the site from various sources: colleagues in the subject, aggregators, ratings, selections, reviews and so on.
  • Keep links as direct and indexable as possible. This means that they lead directly to the site’s page (<a href=”*”> link text </a>) without redirection and do not contain the rel = “nofollow” attribute.
  • Links are set to different project URLs (not only to the main one), it is desirable that the page that links to you is closest in subject to the document where the link leads.
  • When quoting texts and materials – a link to the source (you) is required.
  • Substantive link texts (anchors) are used. Good: #score in the match Russia – Cyprus #, #investigation about corruption in the Ministry of Internal Affairs #, bad: #here #, #here #, #here #.
  • If there are several links from one resource, then different anchors are used in the text and links lead to different URLs.
  • The dynamics of the incoming link mass is monitored using the webmaster panel in the Google Search Console. Try to avoid sharp spikes in links (more than 50-70 unique link donors per date and / or more than 1% of their total).
  • Do not use mass means of suspension of links – aggregators, runs. When using directories, make sure that they are moderated, that they are not hacked, that there are no viruses, and that there are no ads on the pages that interfere with the perception of content.
  • Encourage users to share articles on social networks, this allows you to attract additional traffic and is also taken into account by the search.

Behavioral factors

User behavior is especially carefully evaluated by search engines. Factors of this type can be divided into three categories: click (on the issuance of Google), intra site and describing the sources of visits.

It is important to analyze and improve the values ​​of the main behavioral metrics, as this has a positive effect on the monetization of the resource, and its positions, and traffic.

Checklist for working with behavioral factors (hand over to the project manager and SEO specialist):

  • Control the CTR on the issuance and compliance of the user needs snippet (intent). For frequency queries – compare the CTR of your site with the average. The higher the CTR, the better. Pay particular attention to queries where CTR tends to zero and many impressions.
  • Compare the average time on the site and the depth of user sessions with competitors. Use statistics from the News and Media group in Live Internet, open sources (Similar Web), or share information with colleagues. Strive to increase the average session length and the number of pages viewed for SEO traffic. In the sample, 53.1% of users in the category view 2 or more pages per session. It’s good if the indicator of your project is 5-10% higher than the average.
  • Estimate the proportion of long sessions (more than a minute) and sessions with a depth of more than 2 for the main URLs and queries. The higher both are, the better. The normal value for the proportion of long sessions is more than 15%, for the proportion of sessions with a depth of more than two – 30%.
  • Analyze the main search traffic login pages by Google (Reports> Content> Login pages). Define a segment with a given type of referral source = search engines. You can also quickly assess the average engagement of users from Google and understand which pages you need to work with. This report needs to analyze the URLs that drive traffic on demand with constant demand.
  • Optimize URLs that attract a lot of visitors, but only a small part of it is SEO (less than 10%). Such documents can be quickly brought to good positions due to high values ​​of behavioral metrics. The list can be found using off-the-shelf automation tools.

UGC (custom content)

Comments and other user-generated content have a positive effect on behavioral factors and help to increase the number of queries by which the URL is ranked (due to the low-frequency queries that occur in UGC). Increasing user content is an important task for the media.

UGC work checklist (hand over to the editor and project manager):

  • Encourage users to write meaningful comments. Use gamification elements (vote for comment, points or profile level, badges).
  • Open for indexing comments from “verified” users or the best by voting (the comment should be included in the document code).
  • Hide spammy or malicious comments from indexing.
  • Add the rel = “nofollow” attribute to all links in the comments, this will reduce the amount of spam.
  • Post moderated comments. In case of a large volume, use modern approaches of machine learning or moderation with the help of other users. A simple option is to list stop words.
  • In some cases, allow users to leave a comment and remain anonymous.

SEO is important, but not one

Search engines can provide up to 40-50% of traffic for large media, but this is only one of the sources that you need to use. A significant role is played by news aggregators: Google News,, Media2, Media Metrics and others. They have their own plotting and storytelling algorithms. 

For the analysis of stories in google.News there are specialized tools for analyzing cross-references. They can also be used to analyze the block “How it all began.”

Compared to aggregators, SEO is a more independent and stable channel, which allows better control of traffic and resource income.

Components of success

  1. Good optimization of some sections for frequency queries with steady demand: [news of the day]. An example .
  2. Breakdown of news into categories with a hierarchy, say: Sports> Football / Hockey / Winter Views / Summer Views / Person / … Accounting for the rubrication in the structure of detailed news and linking. The sections: / health /, / don knows / have good visibility.
  3. Getting into user’s intent on frequency phrases with a number of articles. Example: confident positions at the request of [corporate] with information on how to spell it correctly and its etymology or [missionary position]. A large volume of branded traffic (requests for which the site is the vital answer).
  4. The presence of regional subdomains, examples:, The search share for them, at times, exceeds 40%.

Growth points

A lot of them. Transitions from search, as for most media, can be increased several times if you perform work from checklists. Multiple growth lies in the work with the semantic core, refinement of the structure, optimization templates and writing optimized materials.

Technical audit

Check the points on the checklist.

Found two items with high criticality:

  1. Several hundred internal links leading to pages with a response code of 404 (0.75% of the total number of scanned documents) and 503.
  2. Several hundred duplicate documents in the index of search engines. On the example of the main page, this is a URL of the form: /?, /? Page = 9, /? Page = 103, …

Page Content

Check the points on the checklist.

There are already more comments, a few critical ones:

  1. Several thousand documents with duplicate and non-optimized Title tags. Examples of pages with 1 Title tag: / contacts, / gazeta / number / 40877, / gazeta / number / 40872, / gazeta / number / 40873, / gazeta / number / 36903, / gazeta / number / 19053,, / gazeta / archive / edition / 1, / gazeta / archive / edition / 2 and so on.
  2. Weak optimization of Title for semantics.
  3. Several hundred pages with no content at all (less than 300 characters of text, only images, example: / shop / read number / 1092).
  4. There are tens of thousands of URLs with Description over 500 characters or duplicated or missing. Hundreds of URLs with more than 1 h1 tag or none at all.
  5. A lot of smaller comments that cannot significantly increase attendance.

The most annoying here is that most of the problems are solved by the introduction of templates once and almost forever.

By analogy, you can check any site for checklists and find the main points of traffic growth.


When many employees work with one project at once, it is difficult to control the quality of its optimization and technical condition. At the same time, laying the foundation once and teaching employees the basics of optimization, you can multiply increase the attendance of the resource and its income. We hope that the checklists from the article will help you with this!

Do not forget that in the first place according to the sources are direct visits, this is the most loyal audience. Build your community! UGC and the influx of new users from the search play an important role here.