SEO Auditing Tools

A Comprehensive SEO Checklist for Digital Publishers

Join us as we share a 38-point SEO checklist, with insights into the tips and tricks successful digital publishers are now using to improve their ranking in search.

Have you ever wondered why articles from other publications are ranking ahead of your own on Google or Bing? Have you noticed your average rank position dropping for important keywords, even while competitors seem to be doing better in search?

Recent changes to Google’s search algorithm have caused concern among some digital news and magazine publishers. Those publishers are frantically searching for new strategies they can use to improve their position in search rankings for valuable or highly-relevant keywords.

When it comes to search engine optimization, though, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There’s not a magic pill, either. Digital publishers who want to perform better in search need to try out multiple strategies to see what will work best for them. Publishers need to give these strategies time before evaluating their results, since SEO is a long game. Major changes in ranking positions rarely happen overnight, and they are usually the result of a number of small updates or tweaks to the backend of a website.

SEO Checklist for Publishers

The competition to appear on the first page of search results for popular keywords is fierce. Before publishing your next article, consider this SEO checklist:

Website Setup

  • Start with a simple URL structure, since search engines don’t like lengthy strings of words or complex structures.
  • Put an organized tagging system in place.
  • Title tags should be no longer than 50 to 60 characters.
  • Meta description tags should be around 160 characters.
  • Compress and minify code to increase page speeds.
  • Slow webpages can be caused by oversized images or improper caching. Check to make sure this isn’t creating a problem on your website.
  • Eliminate any page redirects.
  • Work to increase page speed, since Google uses load time as an indicator of website quality.
  • Use “nofollow” for paid links.
  • Creating a sitemap and a robots.txt file will speed up crawling and indexing of your website.
  • Keep URLs short.
  • Placing content on the same subdomain helps to preserve authority.
  • Read Google’s technical guidelines to make sure your website meets all the requirements to be included in the Google News feed.
  • Mobile versions of your website should display the same content as desktop versions.
  • Optimize high-resolution images so pages load faster.
  • Make sure URLs contain the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page.
  • Include alt text on every image.
  • Get rid of unnecessary metadata on images.

Website Content

  • Get rid of any dead or broken links.
  • Include well-written descriptions for each article.
  • Eliminate any pages on your website with identical or similar content.
  • Analyze the length and structure of the articles on your website to assess for quality.
  • Use meta tags and descriptions with all of your articles.
  • Include external links in each article you publish.
  • Adding internal links to articles will boost search relevancy.
  • Consider increasing the length of articles for better search rankings.
  • Including multimedia elements like video can signal to Google that a webpage is “high quality.”
  • Link building can be an effective SEO strategy when it is done in an authentic way.
  • Read the Google News inclusion guidelines to see if your site meets the standards to qualify in Google News.

Keyword Optimization

  • Conduct keyword research to identify the terms that are relevant to your publication and your audience.
  • Do research to determine the phrases your readers are entering into Google to find your website.
  • Include the main keyword for each article in the title, URL, H1 tag, and the first paragraph of content.
  • Use a WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO to optimize each page on your website.