SEO Cheat Sheet for Devs

lizziekardon profile image lizziekardon Updated on ・6 min read

According to Net Market Share, Google is still the search engine leader with 75% of searches made on Google.com. With that in mind, following their best SEO practices is a good strategy and something all businesses should have on their checklist. This includes optimizing for factors such as mobile friendly pages with a fast page load time and using helpful SEO plug-ins to setup a WordPress site for success.

Everyone in the digital space has a role to play in SEO, including webmasters. In this post, we'll cover what you need to know pre and post launch for a new website or migration. Our 2019 SEO Checklist for Webmasters tells you what to do step-by-step.

Preparing for Launch or Migration

  1. Set your domain name to auto-renew. Yes, that sounds obvious, but people have lost their domain name when they missed the renewal date.
  2. Install Google Analytics. It's free and also helps your content marketers with their role in SEO.
  3. Install a plug-in to help with your technical SEO, which includes title tags, meta descriptions, structured data, and sitemaps. Follow best practices on tags.
  4. Set up Search Console.
  5. Help Google understand the content of a page with structured data and test your page with the structured data tool.

Test your structured data

  1. Use a site audit tool, such as Screaming Frog to audit SEO for your site.
  2. Check mobile friendliness. 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load.
  3. Review common mistakes webmasters make when designing for mobile.
  4. Tell search engines which URL to use. Moz describes this (canonicalization) as a way to prevent problems caused by identical or "duplicate" content appearing on multiple URLs.

rel=canonical tag example

  1. Use https: Way back in 2015, Google's Gary Illyes said that when pages are otherwise equal, the search engine will favor https, indicating a secure domain. In addition to the SEO benefit, it keeps your site secure and is required for AMP.
  2. Identify images with ALT tags. Search engines cannot see images without the corresponding descriptive text.
  3. Create friendly URLs. Wouldn't you agree the https://pagely.com/blog/yoast-seo-alternatives/ is much more friendly than https://pagely.com/blog/random-words-or-characters-that-are-not-descriptive-08-01-2019?
  4. Install a working search engine on your site to set up a search box that will display on the Google search results page such as the one below.

search engine box

  1. With a site migration, take time to map out pages in advance to lessen the number of 404 pages.
  2. Have a critical eye towards usability. Do team members want videos to autoplay on the site? If so, make a case for not doing this. If it prevents people from browsing the page until the video is done.
  3. Use contact forms instead of including your plaintext email address on the site to cut down on potential spam.

After Site Launch

  1. See how many pages Google has indexed by typing site:yourwebsite.com into the search box.
  2. As changes are made to the site, such as with new content, ask Google to recrawl your URLs.
  3. Watch for crawl errors in your Search Console.

search console crawl errors

  1. Update your sitemap by removing non canonical URLs and 400-level pages before resubmitting. Also submit your sitemap if the site navigation has changed.
  2. Use markup to improve search results.
  3. Keep an eye on your page speed. It may be be great at launch but if too much is added to the site over time - such as large images - it could impact the speed and overall SEO.
  4. Check for broken links with a tool such as Screaming Frog and redirect broken links to an existing page.
  5. Check for 404 errors whether in Screaming Frog or Search Console.
  6. Check mobile friendliness - again! Yes, we said that earlier for your pre-site launch but this is only a bigger deal moving forward with Google's mobile-first indexing and plays a part in SEO.

mobile usability


  1. Check that good backlinks were not lost with a site migration or new design. Ahrefs is one tool that helps you discover lost backlinks.
  2. Monitor Google algorithm changes with a tool such as Signals, Mozcast, or Barracuda to stay alert to changes that may impact your site.
  3. Be prepared for the possibility of panicked team members asking about a decline in site traffic. Poor content or low quality backlinks can impact SEO and staying on top of algorithms can help you understand the cause of a decline.
  4. Use a monitoring tool for site performance and uptime. You can create custom alerts in Google Analytics to be notified when traffic = 0. Unless your website is very new and zero site visitors is possible in the beginning, a traffic = 0 alert is indicative that your site may be down.

Wrap Up

Site design is a big part of SEO and using this checklist will help your site launch or migration go smoothly. Proper configuration helped one Pagely client double their SEO traffic overnight. Keep this checklist handy post-launch so you can catch potential SEO problems quickly and ensure your site is well optimized. Google's recently updated SEO Starter Guide is also a good reference for your entire team. Is there anything we missed? Is there a 'must-do' on your SEO checklist? Let me know in the comments below.

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I'm a tech marketer and I really love pizza


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markdown guide

That's a very nice list. Gotta check out some of those links. Thanks!

A few items I would like to add:

  • Every page should have a proper H1 tag
  • The H1 and the Title tag should contain the keywords the page elaborates on
  • The content should contain the longtail versions of the keywords in phrases with links to additional subcontent pages that further elaborate on the content if needed or if you have products, various links with various keywords that link to the same product across your site, increases the appearance of that product on google for the various keywords.
  • Make sure you do not have duplicate H1s and Title tags on the site [this happens a lot on dynamic sites when a dev just forgets to update a template file]
  • Make sure you have 301s for any 404s coming from google.That way google knows to index the new page if the old page is gone. Also old urls may appear on google for a while, especially if other sites still use those links so 301s can definitely save you from a dip in traffic when you push up a new version of the site where the urls change.
  • You linked to a structured data example. I'd like to add that you need to determine what type of structured data is needed for the various types of pages on your site.
  • Test performance. Your site gets penalized heavily for speed especially on mobile. developers.google.com/speed/pagesp... sucks, but it's the stick google measures with [it's also the audit tool in chrome's dev tools], so you need to try to increase that score. Additionally i use gtmetrix.com/ and webpagetest.org/ Use multiple tests because sometimes one will highlight something the others don't. This, I believe, is by far the most important metric to help your site rank after Titles and H1 tags, but I could be wrong.

Wow, this is a great resource. I've seen a lot of hosting/site migrations where the company could have benefited enormously from taking a pass through this and turning it into a todo list.

Anyway, this is kind of a long shot since you're helping with managed Wordpress, but do you happen to know if any of the Yoast alternatives/SEO plugins offer any kind of non-Wordpress way to analyze text? A lot of our authors like to compose in Markdown editors or Google docs, so they can't get readability/on-page SEO feedback until they paste the finished product into Wordpress. So if you happen to know of an SEO plugin that also has some kind of Google Docs plugin or works in a markdown editor, I'd be very interested to know.


Thanks for your feedback! Sort of like a Grammarly for SEO? I'll look around. In the meantime maybe dig a little into these 4 and see if any of them have non-wp functionality:

Also there's this for gdocs but I haven't used it personally, sounds like what you're looking for thought: gsuite.google.com/marketplace/app/...


"Grammarly for SEO" is actually the perfect way to describe it, I'd say :)

Thanks for the links. Will do some research.

Let me know if you find something good!

Great post Lizzie.

Erik, you can use textoptimizer.com/ for analyse your content before publication. But the tool is expensive if you do not use it often (60$ / month). I use their Google Chrome extension and is perfect for me.


nice. looks like you can get 3 months free if you sign up for the yearly -- might be worth it if you're using it a lot.

(I'm not sure if I'm replying to the right message because I don't really understand the no-op "thread" link, but I'm trying to get it right...)

I signed up for a free account to check it out, thanks! I'm personally intrigued by the question keyword suggestions. I currently use ahrefs to generate those.

I think for me the snag would be that I'm not worried about optimizing my writing, but rather dozens of authors that we have writing for us. $60 per month would be no problem, but $60/month/author would start to add up in a hurry for us.

  1. No, no and NO !

For privacy sake, do not install Google Analytics. Prefer an ethical alternative : ethical.net/resources/?resource-ca...


Why ? Because every site using Google Analytics acts as a tracker for Google !


Google analyticis is still a good alternative, I don't see why look for other options if it's free after all...


If it’s free your visitors are the product. That is why you should think about other options.


definitely totally agree with you on this

it's free + trusted why we will spend for a pro with marketing scheme


Thanks for sharing -- which one on that list do you like best?


My needs are simple : know which content is successful (page views, unique visitors) & where my visitors come from (referer).

With this context in mind, I chose Fathom.

For more complex needs, I would recommend Matomo.

It really depends on your needs though. :-)

Nice. I'll check them out!


You can monitor your SEO with Screpy. It creates tasks that you should do and motivates you. So you can increase your SEO score easily.

Screpy SEO


This is great! I have a bunch of clients and have to look this stuff up every time I dive into SEO. I'll be coming back to this post often :)

Do you have any thoughts or recommendations for websites that are "single page apps" that add their Meta info on the client-side, once the app has rendered? I know it's not "best practice" to do this, and that some crawlers won't render the app - but prerendering or server-side-rendering adds a lot of complexity.


Great article!

I would love to see some in-depth posts and some practical examples!


This is the perfect resource for web developers who aren't SEO experts but need to be sure they are crossing all of the T's and dotting all of their i's for their clients.



This one article contains more useful information than the last dozen other articles I've read on SEO. It's to the point, actionable, and avoids fluff. Thank you, @lizziekardon !


Wow! I didn't know how much I needed this till I read it. Thank you so much.


Thanks for the list - as a dev, I often just focus on the technical bits, and forget about the stuff that actually lets people find my stuff!


Totally -- keep this on hand, just going down the list will set you up MUCH better than not. Most are easy, quick wins.


Superb article, great resource, this is pure gold, just what I need for my next little client project where I'll have to optimize SEO !


Great to hear and truly glad I could help! Let me know how it works out.


You can purchase to Screpy lifetime subscription on AppSumo.

Or you can become a standard member for only $ 2 per month on Screpy.


Hi @lizziekardon

If we build website based on headless wordpress, is it possible to fetch any related SEO tags (from Yoast) into header? thank you


Brilliant skills but I think some other sources not bad.



You have a great article here!
Can you give recommendations for my website at codeseek.com/ ?


Thanks for Share Best SEO Techniques 2020. Its very helpful for beginners and professionals.


Should definitely be more information on schema markup and the values it offers. However, great read, insightful and I'm sure it's helped a lot of people.


What a brilliant list! I am definitely going to be using this for an upcoming client site 👍 Thanks Lizzie!


You bet! Thanks for the comment and best of luck with it!


Google always remain at the top as there is No competetor in the market, and its Algorithms are also now designed and developed to follow the Artificial Intelligence.


I understood some of those words ;)

Thanks Lizzie


ha! hope it's helpful, Chris!

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