Technical SEO checklist: a webmaster’s guide to on-page optimisation

Presenting a guide to carrying out all the on-page checks that webmasters and SEOs need to carry out to ensure a website is optimised for search.

Date published
October 20, 2016 Categories

Presenting a guide to carrying out all the on-page checks that webmasters and SEOs need to carry out to ensure a website is optimised for search.

This checklist will bring together a lot of already published content from the site in one place, and there will be links to more detailed guides throughout.

It’s also worth reading our guides on How to test a website before launch and SEO essentials for optimising your site for further information.

Sign up to Google Search Console

Search Console is where you can monitor your site’s performance, identify issues and monitor backlinks. This is also where Google will communicate with you should anything go wrong.

Here are the key things you should set-up and regularly check in Search Console:

Sign up to Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free service that tracks and reports website traffic. Providing insight into the demographics of site visitors, the performance of a specific campaign, and how long people are staying on your site.

Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using, is set up and ready to go from day one so you can measure and analyse traffic to your site.

Site speed

Use Google’s own site speed test tool to check how quickly your website loads and implement any changes it recommends.

Mobile friendliness

Is your website and its content equally optimised for any given screen size or device? Bear in mind that Google has stated that responsive design is its preferred method of mobile optimisation. Look through our thorough mobile-friendly checklist to help fix any problems.

Title tags

Meta descriptions


The headlines for your articles should be under 55 characters to ensure their complete visibility in SERPs. Make sure they’re snappy, attractive and as descriptive as possible.

H1 – H6 tags

Make sure your headlines are tagged as H1, and any subheadings in your articles are tagged as H2, H3 etc. Makes sure they’re used in a descending, logical order.


Make sure your images are all optimised for the web. Ensuring they’re not too large – and site-speed draining. As well as being properly labelled with titles and alt-text.

XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap

Make sure your website has an accurate site map in both XML and HTML format, to ensure thorough and complete indexing by Google.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

If you’re using Google’s AMP project to provide mobile searchers with faster loading web pages, you need to make sure these are rendering properly. You can check for this in the Search Console AMP tool.

Social media integration

Do the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages? Do you have the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish and what you want the user to be able to do? (For example, does it ‘share a post’ rather than ‘Like’ your page on Facebook.)

Secure Certificate

If your site is ecommerce, or you’re using encrypted pages to protect visitor privacy on a form or elsewhere, you’ll need to check your certificate.

Duplicate content

If you have duplicate content on your own site, set up a 301 redirect so Google only indexes your preferred page.

Ensure that Google is only indexing your preferred domain, i.e. either with the www prefix or without it: or Google may treat the www and non-www versions of your domain as separate sites with separate pages, thus harming your visibility.

If your republishing another site’s content (with permission of course) ensure there’s a rel=canonical tag on each page linking to the original source.

Google News

Double check your site is eligible for Google News, if not, try resubmitting once you’ve carried out Google’s suggestions.


Add rel=“nofollow” to any links that you don’t want search engine crawlers to follow. For instance, sponsored content or commercially led articles with links out to vendors or service providers.

Check structured data

The Structured Data section in Search Console contains information about all the structured data elements Google has located on your site, whether from Schema markup or other microformats. Check for any errors. If you click on the individual ‘Data Types’ it will show you exactly which URLs contain that particular markup and when it was detected.

Error response codes

Response codes, such as 400, 403, 404, 500 and 503, should all be investigated thoroughly. If you see multiple 404 results from internal site links, fix the offending links immediately.

Makes sure 301s being used for all redirects, and avoid any 302 or 307 redirects.

Internal linking

Are you using internal linking in the most effective way? You should have a few relevant internal links per article (depending on length and type of content). Make sure the anchor text is descriptive of the linked page.

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