The Growth Series

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Checklist

Originally Published on 13/11/2018

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation, a way of enhancing the visibility of your website in organic (unpaid) search engine results. 

This means actively working to enable search engines to find your website and rank it prominently in results pages.

There are many sides to SEO, ranging from small changes to massive overhauls, all of which will be designed to influence how search engines perceive your website.

Thankfully, optimising your website for search engines doesn’t mean compromising your user experience. 

In fact, search engines operate on the principle of providing their users with the websites they think best fulfill a person’s needs, so user experience and SEO go hand in hand. 

Full SEO can sometimes be incredibly complicated, but taking basic steps yourself is not difficult. Here are just a few steps you can take…


1. Decide goals 

Try to establish what you want from any SEO changes, so you have an overall direction and targets to achieve. For example, do you want to boost your rankings in search engine results pages? Maybe you want to increase organic traffic so you can reduce your ad spend, or improve your conversion rate.

Remember that any goals you set must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific - so you can set clear markers for success and track your progress.

2. Learn a bit more about SEO

Getting to grips with some of the theory behind SEO is essential, so check out some of the content in our Growth Series to learn more.

You can find free, in-depth resources, including:

Podcast #4 Part 1: How to implement small SEO changes which make a big difference
Podcast #4 Part 2: How to implement small SEO changes which make a big difference
Blog: 5 tips on improving your search ranking on Google

3. Establish your keywords

Think about what short keywords, known as ‘short tail’ in the world of SEO, your potential prospects would use if they wanted to find your business, for instance ‘BTL mortgage broker’. 

Read more: The best keywords for brokers

4. Check how your ‘short tail’ keywords are performing

You can do this by setting up a free Google AdWords account and searching your keywords to get search volume data and trends. Alternatively, Google Trends offers  in-depth data about how different keywords perform over time, or use Google Search Console to check rankings for various keywords.

Make sure you do this regularly, as your rankings and performance will change as time passes, and you want to be using up-to-date information to guide your SEO strategy.

5. Think about longer search terms prospects might use

‘Short tail’ keywords tend to have plenty of competition, so finding lengthier ‘long tail’ keywords can help you be more productive in terms of your search ranking and overall performance. 

A ‘long tail’ keyword could be ‘BTL mortgage broker in Bristol’. Again, you can use Google AdWords for help. 

6. Think laterally about your keywords

Often people won’t search directly for what they want. For instance, rather than searching for ‘BTL mortgage broker’, they might have a look for ‘the best mortgages for landlords’. 

Thinking about problems your audience regularly needs to solve is a great place to start. 

7. Register for Google My Business

Registering your business with Google is a surefire way to improve your search ranking, especially for people using Google Search in your local area. Make sure you follow the registration process fully and add ‘search photos’ to your listing. 

Check out our free cheat sheet to learn more about using Google My Business to get the most out of your online activities. 

8. Optimise your site for different devices

Google looks at your site twice; once to see how friendly it is to desktop users and a second time for mobile devices. The usability of your mobile site affects where Google ranks the site for smartphone users, so review your site on this free Google tool to see if changes need to be made.

9. Check your site speed

Your website’s speed affects where it appears in search rankings because Google wants users to find what they are looking for quickly. Thankfully, Google has another great free tool to help

Complete any follow-up actions based on the results of the mobile usability test and the page speed insights test. 

10. Get access to your Google Analytics

When your website was developed, your web developer should have installed a version of Google Analytics on your site. If you don’t already have access, they should be your first point of call. 

If you set up your site yourself, simply sign up for an Analytics account to get an Analytics Property ID. You can then add this to your site and you’ll be good to go.

11. Check and benchmark your time-on-site and your bounce rate

Once you’re up and running on Google Analytics, you can immediately check your bounce rate figures and how much time people are spending on your website, as this data feeds into Google’s search algorithm. 

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after only viewing one page. You want your bounce rate to be as low as possible, as this shows that users visiting your website want to be there and are engaging with your content. 

These two statistics are important for your SEO because they indicate to search engines that your website has interesting and helpful content. 

12. Try to improve your time-on-site and bounce rates

You can encourage people to stay on your site by posting engaging content on your website, content that will actually make the reader want to stay there and provide answers to your audience’s problems. 

At the same time, make sure your site offers a good user experience. People will be much more likely to stick around if the site loads quickly, it’s well laid-out, simple to navigate and important information is easy to find.

13. Ask your customers to leave Google reviews

Aim for as many as you can! Sending former clients polite emails is the perfect way to encourage them to leave a review. Unsure how to write these? Don’t worry, our free email review generator is an easy way to create personalised emails asking for a review. 

14. Update your social media profiles  

Google also trawls social media accounts to assess your online presence, so make sure your details are consistent and accurate. 

15. If you’re using WordPress, add the Yoast plugin

Yoast allows you to assess your site’s SEO friendliness using a simple traffic light system. The plugin automatically extends WordPress’s standard SEO features and makes changes that will improve your site’s ranking. 

16. Remove duplicate content from your site

Google hates duplicate content (copies of the same webpage) and will penalise your website’s search rankings heavily if it finds any, so take the time to look for it and remove it.

17. Create a sitemap for your website

Having a sitemap makes it easier for Google to index your entire website. You can submit your sitemap to Google Search Console, so it can crawl your site more efficiently.

18. Set up Google Alerts, or a similar service, and track mentions of your business

Backlinks are links from other websites to yours and a big part of SEO. The better the quality of the site linking to your website, the more it’ll improve your ranking. 

For instance, a backlink from would massively improve your ranking, whereas a backlink from could negatively affect your SEO. 

If you see your business has been mentioned somewhere online, then you’ve got a good chance of getting a backlink, so contact them and ask them to create a link on their page to yours. You can check out Google Alerts here. 

19. Understand what outreach is and then fire off your first campaign

Outreach campaigns involve creating valuable content and sending it off to relevant, content-rich websites who may then publish it - and in the process give you a link. 

You might’ve seen these in various online industry publications, where Managing Directors contribute informative articles around relevant topics. 

For instance, our very own Jeremy Duncombe is a regular contributor to many of the mortgage intermediary trade websites. 

20. Create great, helpful content

Blogs filled with fresh, relevant and unique content are a good place to start. If you identified any keywords that you would like to use on your website, but can’t fit in the main page copy, you can write some blogs that could include them. 

Publishing blogs is a particularly good way to rank for ‘long tail’ keywords. For instance, if you identified ‘buy property through a limited company’ as a keyword, you could write a blog titled: ‘A guide to buying buy-to-let properties through a limited company.’ 

21. Develop an SEO-friendly URL structure for your website’s pages

Google likes URLs it can read, so make words in your URL relevant to what a page is about. With blogs, they should reference the title. For example, a guide about BTL taxes with the URL would rank lower than 

22. Implement your chosen keywords on your website

Go through the text on your website and try to make sure that your target keywords appear in the title or first paragraph of relevant pages. However, don’t force keywords into your website’s copy. Doing so could make it awkward to read and could deter visitors. 

What’s more, Google’s algorithms are adept at picking up keywords that have been forcefully inserted into a web page. 

23. Write a compelling meta description

Meta descriptions are concise summaries of a page’s content that appear on search engine results pages. Meta descriptions should be descriptive, without going over Google’s limit of 300 characters. 

This is a great place to sell what’s on your page to people searching online. A good meta description should emphasise why the user should click on the link for your business, as well as accurately representing what’s on the page. 

Try to put your chosen keywords into the meta description as long as they reflect the page’s content. For a user searching ‘buy to let mortgage broker in Bristol’, a good description might look like the following: ‘Do you want to purchase a buy to let property? We are a mortgage broker based in Bristol with over 20 years of experience. We provide specialist mortgage advice for landlords with a range of different property portfolios.’


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