Things have changed quite a bit since we launched this technical SEO checklist in 2013. That’s why we’ve updated it to show you how technical factors affect search placements in 2020. 

In other updated posts, I’ve described the best techniques for on-page and off-site search engine optimization. Here, I’ll wrap up the series with technical SEO factors that you need to master in order to get the most traffic to your site.

First, you’ll need some tools.

The Best Technical SEO Tools

  • Screaming Frog: This is an essential tool for finding broken links, missing H1s and other issue on your site. At about $150/year, it’s indispensable for any technical search engine optimization professional.
  • Google Search Console: Get better insights into where you show in search, how many clicks you get and what technical issues you have. As a bonus, this is your portal to upload XML sitemap files. Best of all: It’s totally free!
  • Lighthouse: Google’s UX tool is the ultimate choice for finding issues with page speed, security, accessibility and SEO best practices. It’s like the old PageSpeed Insights, but so much bigger and better.

Technical SEO Checklist

Check to see if Google has indexed your site

An easy but important test will tell you whether Google has successfully indexed your site. If your site isn’t indexed, it can’t rank.

To do the test, simply type (without the quotes) “site:yoursitename.com” into the Google search bar. You should see most of the pages on your site listed. If they’re not, refer to additional checklist items below.

Check Your Performance

A fast-loading website is not only a benefit to site visitors, it is a positive factor in search engine ranking. After all, in 2020 UX and SEO are basically synonymous.

Fortunately, there is a quick, easy, and free test for checking your site’s speed. Simply go to web.dev/measure and enter your URL. It will spit back four numbers, the first of which – Performance – is all about speed. (We’ve explained how to read a Lighthouse report before.) This needs to get to 70 for you to reach your ranking potential. Anything below that and you’re underperforming your on-page factors

Detect and correct server response problems 

Server response issues are another common technical SEO negative. These are easily addressed in Google Search Console under “Coverage.” This will tell you where you have deep technical issues. 

Additionally, Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a great tool for detecting broken links on your site. These are called “404” errors, and they’re terrible for user experience.

Find and fix broken links (link-rot)

Google uses more than 200 factors to search-rank a page, and broken links originating from your site are negatives in your search scoring. There are a number of free online link-checking tools, with my favorite being brokenlinkcheck. Simply enter your site URL into the tool and let it find all broken links for you. Take note of the particular broken links and their source URLs and go into the pages and correct them, or eliminate them if they are no longer relevant and useful.

Summing up: There are additional, advanced tools and techniques for solving specialized technical problems that may be keeping your site from ranking as well as it should in organic search. But this technical SEO checklist will reveal the most common problems and fixes to get you off to a great start.