SEO 101: The Basics and the Technical (i)

April 12, 2023

SEO is a complex beast. It involves many moving parts that aren’t simple to navigate without specialized certifications or years of on-the-job training. If you’re a growing brand or one whose SEO just hasn’t yet been fruitful, this simple checklist can get you off to a good start!

SEO is ever-changing and so are the algorithms that determine how we do our jobs. This guide gives you the basics and the technical work that you’ll need to complete to get your site where you want it to be. The pressure might be on to create content constantly, but the site that hosts that content must be high quality so your amazing content can be effective. Before you can create the content, the site must be optimized and ready to roll. In order to ensure your site is getting the sort of convertible clicks that you want; you’ve got to first make sure you’re covered in the SEO department.

The Basics

Everything starts with the basics, and SEO is no different.
Before you create content, before you can get clicks, you’ve got to tackle this beginner checklist first. These first few steps are essential to creating a quality foundation that’s going to serve you well.

Set up the Google Suite of tools

Google has some incredible tools for site owners that are either affordable or entirely free. The Google suite of tools is one of the most practical products at your disposal and is something that even industry experts use regularly.


Google Analytics, simply put, gathers all your data and creates reports based on its findings. These analytics can be used to give you a clear picture of how your site is doing and where it can be improved.

Search Console

Google Search Console is a free service that helps you keep up with your site’s presence on the Google Search pages. This tool allows you to confirm that Google can, indeed, see and crawl your website, troubleshoot issues, see which sites are linking to yours, receive notifications when Google notices issues on your site, see search traffic data for your site, and fix indexing problems. Bing Webmaster is another great tool for this sort of work that you should keep in mind.

Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager takes the complicated work of managing and maintaining your site tags off your plate. Tags are the words, sometimes phrases, that describe your site’s content and they’re crucial to the SEO process. As the Google site says, the Manager “gives you the ability to add and update your own tags for conversion tracking, site analytics, remarketing, and more.”

Create a site map

A site map ensures that your site is searchable and crawlable. The sitemap lays out which page links to which and sets up the path viewers will flow through your site.
Some CMS do this for you, so be sure to consider that. There are also several ways you can generate this through third-party sites, but the end result may not be as customized as you’d like.

Submit your site to all search engines

DuckDuckGo and Bing are two other major search engines you want to submit your site to. The more search engines have access to your site, the better for you.

Install an SEO plugin

This is only relevant if you’re using WordPress. If you are using WordPress, Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack are your two best options.

The Technical

The technical side of SEO is very important, but it’s not the easiest to understand. The basics are typically what people are able to manage on their own, but the technical aspects of SEO can often trip them up and they might start looking to hire a great firm or make some budgetary adjustments to bring on a full-time SEO employee.

That is to say: don’t feel bad if this is overwhelming.
We broke the technical down for you into bite-size pieces so you can take it one step at a time.

Ensure your site is mobile-friendly

Everything is mobile nowadays, so it’s essential that your site is optimized to be used on a mobile device. Most CMS will give you the ability to adjust that directly on your dashboard with the click of a button. However, if your CMS doesn’t allow for this, you’ll want to make sure you view the site on your mobile device while you optimize it on your computer. Keep in mind the flow of the site, the sizes of images, the way you scroll the site, and what the menu bar looks like.

Make sure to use HTTPS

If you’re wondering what the difference between HTTPS and HTTP is, here’s a simple rundown: HTTPS is an encrypted and verified protocol that allows your URLs to be secure for visitors. HTTP is not secure.
It’s essential to your page’s success that you use HTTPS and not HTTP. If you’re currently running HTTP, stop and convert. If you’re unsure, the easiest way to make sure you’re using HTTPS and not HTTP is to check your URL bar. If you have a lock beside your website, you’re using HTTPS, if not, you’re using HTTP.
Unfortunately, if you’re in need of conversion, the only way to do that is to purchase an SSL Certificate. These aren’t pricey and they are essential to the process. After purchasing, you’ll need to configure your site to the SSL Certification, if your CMS doesn’t do it for you. From there, you’ll convert all of the website links to HTTPS and then will set up 301 redirects from all the old links to the new ones.

Ensure your site can be crawled

To do this, you’ll need to ensure that all of your links are correct and fixed. Broken links, orphaned pages, or duplicate content will keep crawlers from being able to get through your site. This will prevent your site from being properly indexed.

Ensure the indexability of your site

Use a site audit tool, or complete this step manually, to insure you haven’t got things tagged under noindex that should be indexable. Ahrefs breaks down the best practices for checking to ensure your site is indexed here.

Check your load speeds

There are several factors to consider with load speed, but the most important is photos. If you find yourself waiting for photos to load, even briefly, that’s negatively impacting your load speed. You also want to pay attention to your image sizes; everything should be the same size to prevent long waits for loading.

Fix broken pages and links

Broken links and pages can keep your site from being crawled and indexed. These are links that, for whatever reason, do not effectively send users to the site you intended. Using a site audit tool can tell you what, exactly, you need to fix to make everything run smoothly.

Check for and fix duplicate content

Duplicate content, content that appears in more than one spot on the internet, will confuse crawl bots and will keep your page from ranking highly. When fixing duplicate pages, make sure to correct the URLs so that all other versions of your site 301 redirect to your primary page.

Check for and fix orphaned pages

Simply put; an orphaned page is a page without any links into or out of it, so a user can only navigate to it with a direct link. These orphaned pages won’t show up in SEO rankings because crawlers can’t find them.


If this seems like a lot of work; it is!

SEO isn’t simple, even though we all wish it could be, and at some point, it could become more than you can handle alone. One of our clients came to us after getting through “The Basics” of SEO, only to realize that “The Technical” was a little more than they could do on their own. Overwhelming SEO is part of the business, and no one is more aware of that than us!

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