The Beginner's
SEO Checklist

Get found online as easily as possible. That’s what SEO is. So here’s our beginner’s SEO checklist for what you should know about SEO as a non-techie website owner or manager.

9 min

Website, SEO


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It’s this simple. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about one thing: Get your website to show as prominantly as possible on search engine results pages.


As we’ve touched on in previous articles, SEO can be a rabbit hole. There are lots of aspects and specialisms that come together to get results. That doesn’t mean you need to know about them all initially. Often the fundamentals make the biggest difference. Once you get comfortable with the fundamental principals you can go from strength to strength. That’s what this beginner’s SEO checklist focuses on.



To know how to rank highly in relevant searches, you need to figure out two things: how do search engines rank results & what is a relevant search.


Search engines like Google (Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc.) are the most popular way for people to find things online. Optimising your website for search engines helps it get found by people searching relevant terms. The more relevant your website is, the closer to the top (more prominant) you will be on search engine results pages.

How do search engines rank results?

It’s a great question with an unfortunate answer. Google (and the rest) evolve their rankings criteria over time. They do this because they’re constantly trying to make their results pages better and more relevant to the searcher and their needs. To do this, they take all sorts of criteria into account. They don’t reveal their logic so it’s down to the SEO community to test, learn and adapt. For now, let’s start with establishing some well known factors.


Speed is a crucial factor in your SEO performance. If your website takes long to load (on desktop or mobile) you’re in trouble. If an SEO audit suggests speed is an issue, we recommend reaching out to your website developer and hosting provider to explore how this can be improved. Remember that your website is essentially files organised into folders, so these files have to be compressed as best as possible while working together with your server to ensure that your website’s is able to load as quickly and efficiently as possible.


Currently a big focus for all types of websites, security protects your website and it’s users from would-be trouble makers. Understandably, search engines don’t want to direct anyone to websites with weak security. If they did, it would spell poor experiences and potentially significant risk to their users. Ensure your website(s) and servers are monitored and updated on a regular basis (at least monthly) by experienced professionals. This significantly reduces the chances of being victim to an attempted hack.


This in turn gives your website the safety and trustworthiness search engine providers need to rank your website highly in search results. While there are basic aspects you can check for yourself, we recommend leaving this to professionals it is important that you are confident the necessary measures are in place. In terms of what you can do yourself without an audit, we’d recommend ensuring the website has a valid SSL certificate that’s used on all pages of the site. Additionally, make sure your website is hosted on PCI compliant servers if you have an e-commerce website.

Mobile Responsiveness

Also known as mobile responsiveness, this is already a massive factor (and growing). Your website needs to be able to adapt to different screen sizes (desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) . Google don’t want an unresponsive website to appear when people search as it gives the user a bad experience. If you’re website appears to be displaying poorly on certain sceen sizes, first make sure your device is using an up to date and supported operating system (e.g. Microsoft Windows 10) and browser (e.g. Google Chrome). If the operating system or browser is out of date, it’s doesn’t reflect badly on your website.


If the website displays poorly and everything’s up to date, get in touch with your website developers and let them know the device you are using and the key issues you would like improved. The more responsive and tailored you want your website, the more it is likely to cost however blatant or widespread issues should usually be resolved should sometimes be done for low/no cost – especially if your website is only a few months old.


These are the images, text, videos and other forms of media that your website presents to users.  Directly used The text associated with these to assess relevance of your pages by search engines – particularly headings. This is also a good time to introduce the second of our two key questions.

Cool Tool

To improve your website’s SEO it’s essential to know where you’re starting from. It helps you identify and prioritise where your attention and efforts should be focused. To make this accessible and easy to do, we offer free SEO audits.


Simply submit your website URL and email address and we’ll have a look and send you the results of your audit – and you wont be added to any annoying newsletters, (etc.)!

Quick Tip

Don’t underestimate the importance of hosting. Your website can be attractive, organised and effective – but your website is being drastically hindered if the hosting service isn’t tailored and fit for purpose. Particularly when it comes to SEO and the overall user experience. Despite often being overlooked, it’s an essential part of any beginner’s SEO checklist.

What is a relevant search?

You can really dig in to this one. It won’t come as a surprise that you are the best qualified to understand what your target audience are most likely to search.



Specifically, the words they type into search engines when they’re looking for something relevant to your website. These words your audience use (minus any transition words, etc.) will be your “keywords”. The best thing is you don’t have to understand coding – or even be tech savvy to identify these. Once identified, these keywords will direct the content you look to produce for your website.



There are some things to avoid. Making assumptions about what the keywords ‘should be’ is a risk. Initially, trust in research. It will lighten your load and improve results. 

Where do you start with SEO?

Our recommendation is engaging with your audience and checking your own websites as well as competitors routinely. Think about the following:



What did your target audience type into search engines when trying to find your product/service?


What searches do your competitors appear for?


If your website is already active online, where does it come up in search results for relevant keywords?



There are some online tools you can use to help with this. Treat these as guidance, not gospel. They’ll point you in the right direction but don’t let them take the thinking out of deciding your keywords.


Considering these two key questions gives you a solid foundation on what SEO is and what it means for your website(s). Armed with this knowledge, you now know the essentials of what SEO is all about: relevance and reliability to provide the user with a good experience. In our upcoming follow-up article we’ll be taking a look at some hands-on action points to help you improve the SEO of your website(s). Any questions? Any common questions will be added to this beginner’s SEO checklist article.

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