Connect with us


The Only SEO Checklist You Need in 2023 [Incl. Template]



The Only SEO Checklist You Need in 2023 [Incl. Template]

Remembering every SEO task you need to do for your website is a nightmare. This is why you need an SEO checklist.

But the usual one-size-fits-all checklists aren’t much use. They don’t take into account what your site is like or your SEO priorities.

This is why we built a fully customizable one in Google Sheets:

Preview of our free SEO checklist template

Let’s take a closer look at how to set up and use it.

How to set up and use our SEO checklist

To start, make a copy of the checklist template in your Google Drive and configure the “Setup” sheet. This takes about 30 seconds and involves answering two questions.

  1. What platform or CMS does it run on?
  2. Which facets of SEO do you want to see tasks for? (Just uncheck any you’re not interested in.) 
How to set up the SEO checklist template

And… that’s it. Your custom checklist is ready in the “Checklist” tab.

Here, you’ll see checklist items divided into three buckets:

  • Do it once
  • Do it periodically
  • Do it each time you publish a new page

This structure means you don’t need to complete everything on this checklist today. You can start with the one-time tasks, then the periodic ones, and so on. 

Let’s get started.

Here are the SEO tasks you need to complete one time only.

Install an SEO-friendly theme

Your website theme changes how it looks. These days, pretty much all themes in Shopify, Wix, and WordPress are reasonably SEO-friendly. But if you want to use a third-party theme, it’s best to run a few quick checks:

  • Is it mobile-friendly? Load up the theme demo on your phone and see how it looks.
  • Is it fast? Plug the demo homepage into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The higher the score, the better. 
  • Does it work cross-browser? Try the demo in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
  • Does it have good reviews? Most theme marketplaces show these. 
  • Is it regularly updated? There could be security issues if not. Again, most theme marketplaces will show when it was last updated.

Plan your website structure

Having a logical website structure helps visitors to navigate your site. It also ensures Google can find all the pages on your website. This is important, as Google can’t rank pages it doesn’t know about.

Doing this is easy enough. Just sketch out a mind map: 

How to plan your website structure

Each branch on the map should be an internal link to allow search engines and visitors to navigate between pages. 

People often skip this when setting up a website, so it’s worth doing this even if you’re already up and running. 

Use a descriptive URL structure

For new sites, it makes sense to use a clear and descriptive URL structure from the start. This is because URLs help searchers understand what a page is about when it appears in search results. 

Most website platforms do this out of the box, except for WordPress. Don’t ask me why, but it defaults to using unique IDs like this:

Luckily, this is easy enough to change. Just go to Settings > Permalinks > Post name.

Changing the URL structure in WordPress

Don’t change this for existing sites. It can do way more harm than good. It’s best to stick with it even if you’re using a less-than-ideal structure. 

Install an all-in-one SEO plugin

If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need an SEO plugin to help you optimize things like sitemaps and meta tags (more on those later).

Here are a few good options (you only need one):

Changing meta tags with the Yoast WordPress plugin

You probably don’t need to do this if you’re using a different website platform like Shopify. Most of them give you ways to handle SEO basics out of the box.

Set up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool for tracking your site’s organic search performance. 

Here are a few things you can do with it:

  • See the keywords you rank for
  • Check ranking positions
  • Find website errors
  • Submit sitemaps
Google Search Console

Follow these instructions from Google to get set up. 

Set up Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster Tools is Bing’s equivalent of Google Search Console. 

Bing Webmaster Tools

Is it something you’re going to use all the time? Probably not, as Bing search is not something most SEOs are focused on. But it still doesn’t hurt to set it up, as you may need the data at some point. 

Learn how to set it up here.

Create and submit a sitemap

Sitemaps tell search engines where to find important pages on your site. This is important, as they can only crawl or index pages if they know those exist.

Here’s what the sitemap looks like for our blog:

Sitemap example

You can usually find your sitemap at one of these URLs:


If you can’t find it, check your robots.txt file (, as its location is often listed there:

Robots.txt file location

If you still can’t find it, you probably don’t have one and need to create one. Otherwise, you need to submit it to Google. My guide below teaches you how to do both of these things.

Make sure your site is indexable

People aren’t searching the entire web when they search Google. They’re searching Google’s index of pages on the web. If your page isn’t indexable, Google can’t index it, and it won’t appear in the search results. 

Fortunately, Google can index all webpages unless you tell it that it isn’t allowed. Unfortunately, it’s quite a common mistake to disallow Google from indexing everything—especially with new sites or following site migrations.

Here’s how to find pages Google can’t index for free with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT):

  1. Crawl your site with Site Audit
  2. Go to the All issues report
  3. Check for the “Noindex page in sitemap” error
Finding noindex pages in sitemap using Ahrefs' Site Audit

Sitemaps list the pages you want search engines to index. If these pages have a “noindex” robots meta tag or x-robots-tag, there’s a problem. You should either remove these pages from the sitemap or delete the noindex tag from the page.

Add schema markup to your homepage

Schema markup is structured code that helps search engines to better understand and represent your website in search results. We recommend that all sites add Organization or Person markup to their homepage. 

Luckily, most website platforms and all-in-one SEO plugins make this easy. You don’t have to actually write any code.

For example, if you use Yoast in WordPress, you can do this under the “Site representation” settings:

Schema in Yoast

All you have to do is choose whether you’re an organization or person, then fill in details like your organization name and links to social profiles. The plugin will write and add the schema markup for you.

To check that it’s all working correctly, plug your homepage into the schema markup validator. You should see the code:

Schema example

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

Mobile-friendliness has been a ranking factor for years because most searches happen on mobile devices. You can check how mobile-friendly your site is with the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console. 

Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console

Make sure you’re using HTTPS

HTTPS is a confirmed lightweight ranking factor.

If your website uses HTTPS, it’ll show the “lock” icon in your browser:

"Lock" icon representing a secure site

If you don’t see this, you’ll need to install a TLS certificate. 

Many web platforms and hosts give you one of these for free these days. If they don’t, you can get a free one from Let’s Encrypt. (You just need to make sure your host supports this.)

Make sure your website is accessible at one domain

Visitors shouldn’t be able to access your website at multiple locations. It can lead to crawling, indexing, and security issues.

To check that everything’s in order, plug these four versions of your site into


If everything’s good, three of them should redirect to one of the HTTPS versions:

How homepage redirects should look for a website

If that doesn’t happen, you need to set up permanent 301 redirects.

Make sure your site loads fast

Page speed has been a ranking factor on desktop since 2010 and on mobile since 2018

Google has used various signals to measure page speed in the past, but these days it only uses Core Web Vitals. John Mueller confirmed this in 2022:

You can check your site’s Core Web Vitals performance for free in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT)

  1. Crawl your website with Site Audit
  2. Go to the Performance report
  3. Check the “Core Web Vitals” section
Core Web Vitals report in Ahrefs' Site Audit

If you see a lot of red here, your site probably needs work. 


To see Core Web Vitals in AWT, you’ll need to connect to Google’s PageSpeed Insights API. This only takes a minute or two. We have step-by-step instructions in Site Audit.

Install an image compression plugin

Compressing images makes image files smaller and improves page speed. 

If you’re using a website platform like Wix or Shopify, there’s not much need to worry about this, as they compress images automatically. But if you’re using WordPress, you’ll need to install an image compression plugin like ShortPixel. 


ShortPixel lets you compress up to 100 images per month for free.

Get a free Google Business Profile

Google Business Profiles show up for local Google searches and in Google Maps.

Example of Google Business Profiles in the local pack

If your business has a storefront or serves a local area, setting up a Google Business Profile is about the best thing you can do for your SEO. You can sign up for one here. It’s completely free. Just fill out as much information as possible to boost your chances of showing up.

Backlinks are links to your site from other websites and are one of Google’s top ranking factors. There are many ways to get more of them, but the best starting point is to replicate your competitors’ links.

There are many ways to do this, but looking for competitors’ directory links is a good starting point. 

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter your homepage URL
  3. Switch the mode to “Exact URL”
  4. Go to the Link Intersect report
  5. Enter a few competitors’ homepages in blank fields
  6. Set the search mode for all pages to “URL”
  7. Hit “Show link opportunities”
Finding links that multiple competitors have with the Link Intersect report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

It’s usually pretty easy to spot local and industry directories on the list:

Examples of directories

If you feel like it’d be useful to have your business listed in any of these directories, sign up for an account and make a profile. You’ll get a link too.

Here are the SEO tasks you should complete when setting up your website and every few months after that.

Fix broken pages

Broken links can negatively impact user experience and break the flow of ‘authority’ into and around your website.

To find broken links on your site for free, use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

  1. Crawl your website with Site Audit
  2. Go to the Internal pages report
  3. Click the “Issues” tab
  4. Look for “404 page” errors
Finding broken pages in Ahrefs' Site Audit

Here’s how to deal with any broken links you find:

How to deal with broken links

Refresh declining content

Rankings tend to drop over time if you don’t keep pages up to date. This is especially true for topics where searchers are looking for fresh information. 

Here’s how to find pages that could use a refresh in Google Search Console:

  1. Go to the Search results report
  2. Click the “Date” filter and select “Compare” mode
  3. Choose “Compare last 6 months to previous period”
  4. Hit Apply
  5. Click the “Pages” tab in the table
  6. Sort the results by “Clicks Difference” from low to high
Finding pages that could use a refresh in Google Search Console

For example, our list of top Google searches received 75K+ fewer organic visits in the last six months than in the previous six months. This is probably because searchers want an up-to-date list of queries, but we last refreshed the page a few months ago. 

Do a content gap analysis

A content gap analysis finds the keywords your competitors rank for but you don’t. These often point to topics that it would also make sense for you to create content about.

Here’s how to do one in Ahrefs:

  1. Go to the Competitive Analysis tool
  2. Enter your domain as the target
  3. Enter a few competitors 
  4. Click “Compare”
Doing a competitive analysis in Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis tool

You will then see keywords that at least one competitor ranks for in the top 10, but you don’t rank at all. 

For example, three of our competitors rank in the top 10 for “rankbrain”:

Examples of content gaps

This is probably a topic we should consider covering. 

Update your Google Business Profile

If you’ve ever arrived at a restaurant to find it closed despite Google saying it’s open, you already understand the importance of keeping your Google Business Profile up to date. Given that it only takes a few minutes every couple of months, it’s not worth risking bad reviews over.

Here are a few things to double-check each time:

  • Opening hours
  • Holiday opening hours (e.g., Christmas)
  • Phone number
  • Products and services

I’d also recommend using the “posts” feature to keep followers of your business up to date. 

For example, this bar has a post about its upcoming Christmas Market: 

Example of posts on Google Business Profiles

(Pretty impressive planning, given that I’m writing this in July.)

Check for other technical issues

Hundreds of technical issues can hurt your site, and they can pop up at any moment. That’s why it’s super important to check for them periodically and fix any major issues that come up.

You can do this for free with Site Audit in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. Just choose the option to run scheduled crawls when setting up your project (weekly or monthly is fine for most sites).

How to schedule crawls in Ahrefs' Site Audit

Site Audit will then crawl your site for 140+ potential SEO issues. It’ll do this periodically according to the schedule you set and send you email alerts about new issues:

Email alert from Ahrefs' Site Audit

If you click “View” on any issue, it’ll take you to Site Audit and show the URLs affected:

Showing 404 pages in Ahrefs' Site Audit

You can then click the “Why and how to fix” button to learn how to deal with each issue.

Instructions on how to fix issues in Ahrefs' Site Audit

Do it for every new page

Here are the SEO tasks you should complete when adding new pages to your website that you want to perform well in organic search.

Find a primary keyword to target

Each page on your website should target one main keyword. You should do keyword research periodically to find topics to target, but it’s also important to make sure you’re targeting the best keyword each time you publish a new page.

For example, let’s say you were writing a post about the best protein powders. There are lots of ways people could search for this, such as:

  • what is the best protein powder
  • best protein supplements
  • best protein shakes

Which one of these keywords should be your primary target, if any?

Luckily, there’s an easy way to figure this out. Just search for your topic in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and look at the Parent Topic. This is usually a more popular way of searching for the same thing.

Parent Topic in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer


Parent Topic isn’t 100% foolproof. It simply shows the keyword sending the most traffic to the top-ranking page for your keyword. This is usually the best keyword to target but not always, so don’t let this trump common sense.

Assess search intent

People tend to want to see one of these types of content when they search Google:

  • Blog post
  • Interactive tool
  • Video
  • Category page
  • Product page

Figuring out which one that people searching for your keyword want to see is known as assessing search intent. This is a crucial step if you want to stand the best chance at ranking, as Google wants to rank content that searchers are looking for.

How do you do it? 

Look for the most common type of content among the top-ranking results. 

For example, interactive tools dominate the first page for “days between dates.” But videos dominate the first page for “excel for beginners”:

Example of how search intent varies

From here, we recommend digging deeper into intent to understand the best content format and angle for the job. Learn more about that in the linked guide below.

Assess your chances of ranking in Google

Understanding the ease or difficulty of ranking for a keyword helps you to prioritize the opportunity and set realistic expectations.

For a very rough estimate, you can use the Keyword Difficulty score in Keywords Explorer.

Keyword Difficulty (KD) score in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Just don’t rely on this entirely, as it only takes backlinks into account. Other factors may indicate a hard keyword to rank for, like: 

  • High-quality backlinks to the top-ranking pages.
  • High topical relevance of the top-ranking sites.
  • Mainly big brands in the top 10.
  • A dominant content type that you don’t have the resources to create.

Research what people want to know

Let’s say that you want to rank for “affiliate marketing.” It’s clear from analyzing intent that searchers are looking for a blog post. But what specifically do they want to know? This is the question you need to answer if you want to produce the best content in Google’s eyes.

One way to answer this question is to look for commonalities between the top-ranking pages.

For example, all top-ranking pages for “affiliate marketing” have a definition:

Example of a common subtopic among top-ranking pages

This works, but it can be quite time-consuming. 

It’s often quicker to run a page-level content gap analysis on the top-ranking pages to find keywords they rank for. Some of these often point to subtopics the pages cover.

Here’s how to do it in Ahrefs: 

  1. Go to the Competitive Analysis tool
  2. Enter the URL of your page as the target (add the URL you plan to use if you haven’t created your page yet)
  3. Enter the URLs of a few top-ranking pages as targets
  4. Click “Compare”
Running a competitive analysis at the page level to find important subtopics

From there, go to the Content Gap report and look for keywords that represent subtopics:

Examples of subtopics in the Content Gap report

Optimize your headings and subheadings

Google looks at headings and subheadings to better understand a page’s content. This makes them logical places to include keywords related to your content. 

For example, this would be a logical way to structure a page about fruits and vegetables:

  • H1: Fruits & Vegetables 

Not only does this naturally lead you to include keywords in headings and subheadings, but it also makes your content easier to read and skim. 

How headings and subheadings improve readability

Hook readers with your intro (blog posts only)

If you can’t convince readers that your page offers what they want within a few seconds, they’ll hit the “back” button. This is bad because if they never read your content, they won’t convert, share, or link to it. 

The PAS formula is a good place to start for a compelling intro.

The PAS formula

For example, let’s say we were writing a post about how to cook the perfect steak. 

We’d start by describing the problem

The PAS formula — problem

Then we’d agitate the problem:

The PAS formula — agitate

Before finally revealing the solution

The PAS formula — solution

Edit your copy for simplicity

In all, 50% of the U.S. population read below an eighth-grade reading level.

How well U.S. adults read

For that reason, you should keep things simple unless you want to alienate 1 in 2 visitors. That means:

  • Using short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Using simple words and phrases.
  • Avoiding jargon.

Hemingway is a free, browser-based tool that can help with this. It tells you the current grade level of your copy and suggests improvements. 

Hemingway's readability grade

People often think that linking to other websites is somehow bad for SEO. This isn’t true. It probably won’t massively help your SEO, but it won’t hurt it either (unless you’re linking to shady stuff).

Here’s what Google’s John Mueller had to say about linking out to other sites:

Linking to other websites is a great way to provide value to your users. Oftentimes, links help users to find out more, to check out your sources and to better understand how your content is relevant to the questions that they have.

Does this mean you should force links to other sites into your content? Definitely not. It just means you should add them if and when it makes sense, like if you need to reference a source.

Make content easier to consume with images

Nobody wants to read a big wall of text. It’s overwhelming and can lead people to bounce. Images help solve this by breaking up your copy and aiding visual comprehension. 

Even better, images can rank in Google Images and send even more traffic your way. 

For example, according to Search Console, Google Images has sent our blog almost 20K organic visits in the last three months:

Google Images traffic in Search Console

This would undoubtedly be even higher if you were in a visual niche like food or design.

That said, don’t just shoehorn random images into your content for the sake of it. Make an effort to use images that actually serve a purpose and help readers visualize things. 

Optimize your images

If you’ve already done the “do it once” items on this checklist, you should have already installed an image compression plugin. But there are a couple of other image optimizations you should do on a page-by-page basis:

  1. Name images descriptively – Don’t use generic image filenames like IMG_875939.png or Screenshot-2021-06-01. Use descriptive filenames like black-puppy.png or eiffel-tower.jpg. 
  2. Add descriptive alt text – Alt text replaces an image on the page when it fails to load. It’s also helpful for those using screen readers. Learn more here.

Set a compelling title tag and meta description

Title tags and meta descriptions show up in Google’s search results to help searchers understand what the page is about. 

Example of title tag and meta description in Google's search results


Google only uses meta descriptions for the descriptive snippet in search results 62.78% of the time. The rest of the time, it uses something else from the page. This makes the title tag more important than the meta description by far.

It’s best practice to include your target keyword (or a close variation) in the title tag where it makes sense. Beyond that, it’s about making both the title and meta description as compelling as possible.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep them short Under 70 characters for the title tag and under 160 for the meta description. This helps prevent truncation.
  • Match search intent – Make it clear to searchers that you have what they’re looking for.
  • Don’t clickbait – Be honest about what’s on your page. Don’t over-promise. 
  • Include the year – In the title tag for topics that demand freshness.


If you’re struggling to come up with a compelling title or meta description, try asking ChatGPT to do the work for you:

Using ChatGPT to come up with titles

Set a short descriptive URL slug

The URL slug is the last part of the URL:

Example of a URL slug

Google says to use words that are relevant to your content here. This also helps searchers to understand what your page is about before clicking. 

The easiest way to do this is to set the slug to your target keyword:

However, this doesn’t always make sense. It depends on your URL structure. 

For example, our SEO glossary targets the keyword “SEO glossary.” But as we published this under, we only used glossary for the slug and not seo-glossary to avoid unnecessary repetition of “SEO.”

URL slug for our SEO glossary

Plus, shorter is always better because long URLs tend to truncate on the SERPs:

URL slug that's cut off

Add schema markup for rich snippets

Schema markup can impact how your pages appear in the search results.

For example, here’s a page that currently ranks for “pizza dough recipe”:

Rich snippets example

The star ratings, review count, and preparation time all appear, thanks to schema markup.

If you want to be eligible for these kinds of “rich results,” here’s a full list of features from Google, along with the structured data you need to use. 

Implementation-wise, you can either write the markup yourself and add it to your page or use a plugin to create it for you. Yoast works with a fair few of these.

How to add schema markup in Yoast

Add a table of contents (blog posts only)

A table of contents provides jump links to different sections on the page. 

Example of a table of contents

Adding these to long blog posts makes sense to help searchers navigate them. They can also help you win sitelinks in the search results: 

Example of sitelinks

Internal links help Google find pages on your website and understand what they’re all about. 

Most website platforms automatically add internal links to new pages from their “parent” pages, but you can boost new pages further by adding more contextual internal links. 

For example, when we publish new blog posts, WordPress automatically internally links to them from our blog homepage:

Example of an internal link to a new post on Ahrefs' blog homepage

This is good, but there are probably plenty of other places where it would make sense to link to this post on our blog. By adding internal links there, we can send more people to this guide and tell Google how important we think it is.

Here’s how to find internal link opportunities for free with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT): 

  1. Crawl your website with Site Audit
  2. Go to the Page Explorer
  3. Search for your target keyword in the “Page text” of other pages
Finding internal link opportunities in Ahrefs' Site Audit

It’s then simply a case of visiting the pages in the returns, searching for your keyword on the page, and adding a contextual link if and where it makes sense.

Here’s one we added from our list of free keyword research tools:

Example of a contextual internal link

Promote your content with outreach (optional)

People can’t link to content if they don’t know it exists. That’s why it pays to do link building outreach—especially if you’re trying to rank for a competitive keyword.

There are many ways to do this, but the Reverse Skyscraper Technique is a good starting point.

Here’s the process:

  1. Find competing, lower-quality pages with backlinks
  2. Ask people linking to them to link to you instead

To find competing pages with backlinks, just plug your keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and scroll to the SERP overview: 

Referring domains (linking websites) to the top-ranking pages, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Next, visit the pages and look for reasons why your content is better, like:

  • Their content is inaccurate and outdated.
  • They don’t explain things in detail.
  • Their design is bad.

It’s then simply a case of pitching your link as the replacement to anyone linking to that page. To find these, plug the page into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and check the Backlinks report. 

Final thoughts

SEO is an ongoing process, and it would be impossible to include everything that’s important in one checklist. Having said that, if you tackle the checklist items above, you’ll be well on your way to higher rankings. You’ll also probably be well ahead of your competition. That’s all that matters.

If you’re looking to learn more about executing on this checklist, check out our free SEO training course.

Want even more SEO ideas? Check out our list of SEO tips.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address


How To Become an SEO Expert in 4 Steps



General SEO

With 74.1% of SEOs charging clients upwards of $500 per month for their services, there’s a clear financial incentive to get good at SEO. But with no colleges offering degrees in the topic, it’s down to you to carve your own path in the industry.

There are many ways to do this; some take longer than others.

In this post, I’ll share how I’d go from zero to SEO pro if I had to do it all over again. 

1. Take a beginner SEO course

Understanding what search engine optimization really is and how it works is the first state of affairs. While you can do this by reading endless blog posts or watching YouTube videos, I wouldn’t recommend that approach for a few reasons:

  • It’s hard to know where to start
  • It’s hard to join the dots
  • It’s hard to know who to trust

You can solve all of these problems by taking a structured course like our SEO course for beginners. It’s completely free (no signup required), consists of 14 short video lessons (2 hours total length), and covers:

  • What SEO is and why it’s important
  • How to do keyword research
  • How to optimize pages for keywords
  • How to build links (and why you need them)
  • Technical SEO best practices

Here’s the first lesson to get you started:

Lesson 1: SEO Basics: What is SEO and Why is it Important? Watch now

2. Make a website and try to rank it

It doesn’t matter how many books you read about golf, you’re never going to win a tournament without picking up a set of clubs and practicing. It’s the same with SEO. The theory is important, but there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty and trying to rank a site.

If you don’t have a site already, you can get up and running fairly quickly with any major website platform. Some will set you back a few bucks, but they handle SEO basics out of the box. This saves you time sweating the small stuff.

As for what kind of site you should create, I recommend a simple hobby blog. 

Here’s a simple food blog I set up in <10 minutes: 

A blog that I set up in just a few minutes. It's nothing special, but it does the jobA blog that I set up in just a few minutes. It's nothing special, but it does the job

Once you’re set-up, you’re ready to start practicing and honing your SEO skills. Specifically, doing keyword research to find topics, writing and optimizing content about them, and (possibly) building a few backlinks.

For example, according to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, the keyword “neopolitan pizza dough recipe” has a monthly traffic potential of 4.4K as well as a relatively low Keyword Difficulty (KD) score:

Keyword metrics for "neopolitan pizza dough" via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerKeyword metrics for "neopolitan pizza dough" via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Even better, there’s a weak website (DR 16) in the top three positions—so this should definitely be quite an easy topic to rank for.

Page from a low-DR website ranking in the top 3. This indicates an easy-to-rank-for keywordPage from a low-DR website ranking in the top 3. This indicates an easy-to-rank-for keyword

Given that most of the top-ranking posts have at least a few backlinks, a page about this topic would also likely need at least a few backlinks to compete. Check out the resources below to learn how to build these.

3. Get an entry-level job

It’s unlikely that your hobby blog is going to pay the bills, so it’s time to use the work you’ve done so far to get a job in SEO. Here are a few benefits of doing this: 

  • Get paid to learn. This isn’t the case when you’re home alone reading blog posts and watching videos or working on your own site.
  • Get deeper hands-on experience. Agencies work with all kinds of businesses, which means you’ll get to build experience with all kinds of sites, from blogs to ecommerce. 
  • Build your reputation. Future clients or employers are more likely to take you seriously if you’ve worked for a reputable SEO agency. 

To find job opportunities, start by signing up for SEO newsletters like SEO Jobs and SEOFOMO. Both of these send weekly emails and feature remote job opportunities: 

SEO jobs in SEOFOMO newsletterSEO jobs in SEOFOMO newsletter

You can also go the traditional route and search job sites for entry-level positions. The kinds of jobs you’re looking for will usually have “Junior” in their titles or at least mention that it’s a junior position in their description.

Junior SEO job listing exampleJunior SEO job listing example

Beyond that, you can search for SEO agencies in your local area and check their careers pages. 

Even if there are no entry-level positions listed here, it’s still worth emailing and asking if there are any upcoming openings. Make sure to mention any SEO success you’ve had with your website and where you’re at in your journey so far.

This might seem pushy, but many agencies actually encourage this—such as Rise at Seven:

Call for alternative roles from Rise at SevenCall for alternative roles from Rise at Seven

Here’s a quick email template to get you started:

Subject: Junior SEO position?

Hey folks,

Do you have any upcoming openings for junior SEOs?

I’ve been learning SEO for [number] months, but I’m looking to take my knowledge to the next level. So far, I’ve taken Ahrefs’ Beginner SEO course and started my own blog about [topic]—which I’ve had some success with. It’s only [number] months old but already ranks for [number] keywords and gets an estimated [number] monthly search visits according to Ahrefs.

[Ahrefs screenshot]

I checked your careers page and didn’t see any junior positions there, but I was hoping you might consider me for any upcoming positions? I’m super enthusiastic, hard-working, and eager to learn.

Let me know.


You can pull all the numbers and screenshots you need by creating a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account and verifying your website.

4. Specialize and hone your skills

SEO is a broad industry. It’s impossible to be an expert at every aspect of it, so you should niche down and hone your skills in the area that interests you the most. You should have a reasonable idea of what this is from working on your own site and in an agency.

For example, link building was the area that interested me the most, so that’s where I focused on deepening my knowledge. As a result, I became what’s known as a “t-shaped SEO”—someone with broad skills across all things SEO but deep knowledge in one area.

T-shaped SEOT-shaped SEO
What a t-shaped SEO looks like

Marie Haynes is another great example of a t-shaped SEO. She specializes in Google penalty recovery. She doesn’t build links or do on-page SEO. She audits websites with traffic drops and helps their owners recover.

In terms of how to build your knowledge in your chosen area, here are a few ideas:

Here are a few SEOs I’d recommend following and their (rough) specialties:

Final thoughts

K Anders Ericsson famously theorized that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a new skill. Can it take less? Possibly. But the point is this: becoming an SEO expert is not an overnight process.

I’d even argue that it’s a somewhat unattainable goal because no matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn. That’s part of the fun, though. SEO is a fast-moving industry that keeps you on your toes, but it’s a very rewarding one, too. 

Here are a few stats to prove it:

  • 74.1% of SEOs charge clients upwards of $500 per month for their services (source)
  • $49,211 median annual salary (source)
  • ~$74k average salary for self-employed SEOs (source)

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter X

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI




A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

Today, ChatGPT celebrates one year since its launch in research preview.

From its humble beginnings, ChatGPT has continually pushed the boundaries of what we perceive as possible with generative AI for almost any task.

In this article, we take a journey through the past year, highlighting the significant milestones and updates that have shaped ChatGPT into the versatile and powerful tool it is today.

ChatGPT: From Research Preview To Customizable GPTs

This story unfolds over the course of nearly a year, beginning on November 30, when OpenAI announced the launch of its research preview of ChatGPT.

As users began to offer feedback, improvements began to arrive.

Before the holiday, on December 15, 2022, ChatGPT received general performance enhancements and new features for managing conversation history.

Screenshot from ChatGPT, December 2022ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

As the calendar turned to January 9, 2023, ChatGPT saw improvements in factuality, and a notable feature was added to halt response generation mid-conversation, addressing user feedback and enhancing control.

Just a few weeks later, on January 30, the model was further upgraded for enhanced factuality and mathematical capabilities, broadening its scope of expertise.

February 2023 was a landmark month. On February 9, ChatGPT Plus was introduced, bringing new features and a faster ‘Turbo’ version to Plus users.

This was followed closely on February 13 with updates to the free plan’s performance and the international availability of ChatGPT Plus, featuring a faster version for Plus users.

March 14, 2023, marked a pivotal moment with the introduction of GPT-4 to ChatGPT Plus subscribers.

ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAIScreenshot from ChatGPT, March 2023ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

This new model featured advanced reasoning, complex instruction handling, and increased creativity.

Less than ten days later, on March 23, experimental AI plugins, including browsing and Code Interpreter capabilities, were made available to selected users.

On May 3, users gained the ability to turn off chat history and export data.

Plus users received early access to experimental web browsing and third-party plugins on May 12.

On May 24, the iOS app expanded to more countries with new features like shared links, Bing web browsing, and the option to turn off chat history on iOS.

June and July 2023 were filled with updates enhancing mobile app experiences and introducing new features.

The mobile app was updated with browsing features on June 22, and the browsing feature itself underwent temporary removal for improvements on July 3.

The Code Interpreter feature rolled out in beta to Plus users on July 6.

Plus customers enjoyed increased message limits for GPT-4 from July 19, and custom instructions became available in beta to Plus users the next day.

July 25 saw the Android version of the ChatGPT app launch in selected countries.

As summer progressed, August 3 brought several small updates enhancing the user experience.

Custom instructions were extended to free users in most regions by August 21.

The month concluded with the launch of ChatGPT Enterprise on August 28, offering advanced features and security for enterprise users.

Entering autumn, September 11 witnessed limited language support in the web interface.

Voice and image input capabilities in beta were introduced on September 25, further expanding ChatGPT’s interactive abilities.

An updated version of web browsing rolled out to Plus users on September 27.

The fourth quarter of 2023 began with integrating DALL·E 3 in beta on October 16, allowing for image generation from text prompts.

The browsing feature moved out of beta for Plus and Enterprise users on October 17.

Customizable versions of ChatGPT, called GPTs, were introduced for specific tasks on November 6 at OpenAI’s DevDay.

ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAIScreenshot from ChatGPT, November 2023ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

On November 21, the voice feature in ChatGPT was made available to all users, rounding off a year of significant advancements and broadening the horizons of AI interaction.

And here, we have ChatGPT today, with a sidebar full of GPTs.

ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAIScreenshot from ChatGPT, November 2023ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

Looking Ahead: What’s Next For ChatGPT

The past year has been a testament to continuous innovation, but it is merely the prologue to a future rich with potential.

The upcoming year promises incremental improvements and leaps in AI capabilities, user experience, and integrative technologies that could redefine our interaction with digital assistants.

With a community of users and developers growing stronger and more diverse, the evolution of ChatGPT is poised to surpass expectations and challenge the boundaries of today’s AI landscape.

As we step into this next chapter, the possibilities are as limitless as generative AI continues to advance.

Featured image: photosince/Shutterstock

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


Is AI Going To E-E-A-T Your Experience For Breakfast? The LinkedIn Example




Is AI Going To E-E-A-T Your Experience For Breakfast? The LinkedIn Example

Are LinkedIn’s collaborative articles part of SEO strategies nowadays?

More to the point, should they be?

The search landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, blurring the lines between search engines and where searches occur.

Following the explosive adoption of AI in content marketing and the most recent Google HCU, core, and spam updates, we’re looking at a very different picture now in search versus 12 months ago.

User-generated and community-led content seems to be met with renewed favourability by the algorithm (theoretically, mirroring what people reward, too).

LinkedIn’s freshly launched “collaborative articles” seem to be a perfect sign of our times: content that combines authority (thanks to LinkedIn’s authority), AI-generated content, and user-generated content.

What could go wrong?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What are “collaborative articles” on LinkedIn?
  • Why am I discussing them in the context of SEO?
  • The main issues with collaborative articles.
  • How is Google treating them?
  • How they can impact your organic performance.

What Are LinkedIn Collaborative Articles?

First launched in March 2023, LinkedIn says about collaborative articles:

“These articles begin as AI-powered conversation starters, developed with our editorial team, but they aren’t complete without insights from our members. A select group of experts have been invited to contribute their own ideas, examples and experiences within the articles.“

Essentially, each of these articles starts as a collection of AI-generated answers to FAQs/prompts around any given topic. Under each of these sections, community members can add their own perspectives, insights, and advice.

What’s in it for contributors? To earn, ultimately, a “Top Voice” badge on their profile.

The articles are indexable and are all placed under the same folder (

They look like this:

Screenshot from LinkedIn, November 2023LinkedIn content

On the left-hand side, there are always FAQs relevant to the topic answered by AI.

On the right-hand side is where the contributions by community members get posted. Users can react to each contribution in the same way as to any LinkedIn post on their feed.

How Easy Is It To Contribute And Earn A Badge For Your Insights?

Pretty easy.

I first got invited to contribute on September 19, 2023 – though I had already found a way to contribute a few weeks before this.

Exclusive LinkedIn group of expertsScreenshot from LinkedIn, November 2023Exclusive LinkedIn group of experts

My notifications included updates from connections who had contributed to an article.

By clicking on these, I was transferred to the article and was able to contribute to it, too (as well as additional articles, linked at the bottom).

I wanted to test how hard it was to earn a Top SEO Voice badge. Eight article contributions later (around three to four hours of my time), I had earned three.

LinkedIn profileLinkedIn profile

Community top voice badgeScreenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023Community top voice badge

How? Apparently, simply by earning likes for my contributions.

A Mix Of Brilliance, Fuzzy Editorial Rules, And Weird Uncle Bob

Collaborative articles sound great in principle – a win-win for both sides.

  • LinkedIn struck a bullseye: creating and scaling content (theoretically) oozing with E-E-A-T, with minimal investment.
  • Users benefit from building their personal brand (and their company’s) for a fragment of the effort and cost this usually takes. The smartest ones complement their on-site content strategy with this off-site golden ticket.

What isn’t clear from LinkedIn’s Help Center is what this editorial mix of AI and human input looks like.

Things like:

  • How much involvement do the editors have before the topic is put to the community?
  • Are they only determining and refining the prompts?
  • Are they editing the AI-generated responses?
  • More importantly, what involvement (if any) do they have after they unleash the original AI-generated piece into the world?
  • And more.

I think of this content like weird Uncle Bob, always joining the family gatherings with his usual, unoriginal conversation starters. Only, this time, he’s come bearing gifts.

Do you engage? Or do you proceed to consume as many canapés as possible, pretending you haven’t seen him yet?

Why Am I Talking About LinkedIn Articles And SEO?

When I first posted about LinkedIn’s articles, it was the end of September. Semrush showed clear evidence of their impact and potential in Search. (Disclosure: I work for Semrush.)

Only six months after their launch, LinkedIn articles were on a visible, consistent upward trend.

  • They were already driving 792.5K organic visits a month. (This was a 75% jump in August.)
  • They ranked for 811,700 keywords.
  • Their pages were ranking in the top 10 for 78,000 of them.
  • For 123,700 of them, they appeared in a SERP feature, such as People Also Ask and Featured Snippets.
  • Almost 72% of the keywords had informational intent, followed by commercial keywords (22%).

Here’s a screenshot with some of the top keywords for which these pages ranked at the top:

Semrush US databaseScreenshot from Semrush US database, desktop, September 2023Semrush US database

Now, take the page that held the Featured Snippet for competitive queries like “how to enter bios” (monthly search volume of 5,400 and keyword difficulty of 84, based on Semrush data).

It came in ahead of pages on Tom’s Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, or Reddit.

LinkedIn computer hardware installation collaborative articleLinkedIn computer hardware installation collaborative article

collaborative article exampleScreenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023collaborative article example

See anything weird? Even at the time of writing this post, this collaborative article had precisely zero (0) contributions.

This means a page with 100% AI-generated content (and unclear interference of human editors) was rewarded with the Featured Snippet against highly authoritative and relevant domains and pages.

A Sea Of Opportunity Or A Storm Ready To Break Out?

Let’s consider these articles in the context of Google’s guidelines for creating helpful, reliable, people-first content and its Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

Of particular importance here, I believe, is the most recently added “E” in “E-E-A-T,” which takes experience into account, alongside expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

For so many of these articles to have been ranking so well must mean that they were meeting the guidelines and proving helpful and reliable for content consumers.

After all, they rely on “a select group of experts to contribute their own ideas, examples and experiences within the articles,” so they must be worthy of strong organic performances, right?

Possibly. (I’ve yet to see such an example, but I want to believe somewhere in the thousands of pages these do exist).

But, based on what I’ve seen, there are too many examples of poor-quality content to justify such big rewards in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The common issues I’ve spotted:

1. Misinformation

I can’t tell how much vetting or editing there is going on behind the scenes, but the amount of misinformation in some collaborative articles is alarming. This goes for AI-generated content and community contributions alike.

I don’t really envy the task of fact-checking what LinkedIn describes as “thousands of collaborative articles on 2,500+ skills.” Still, if it’s quality and helpfulness we’re concerned with here, I’d start brewing my coffee a little stronger if I were LinkedIn.

At the moment, it feels a little too much like a free-for-all.

Here are some examples of topics like SEO or content marketing.

misinformation example 1misinformation example 1

misinformation example 2misinformation example 2

misinformation example 3Screenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023misinformation example 3

2. Thin Content

To a degree, some contributions seem to do nothing more than mirror the points made in the original AI-generated piece.

For example, are these contributions enough to warrant a high level of “experience” in these articles?

thin content example 1thin content example 1

thin content example 2Screenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023thin content example 2

The irony to think that some of these contributions may have also been generated by AI…

3. Missing Information

While many examples don’t provide new or unique perspectives, some articles simply don’t provide…any perspectives at all.

This piece about analytical reasoning ranked in the top 10 for 128 keywords when I first looked into it last September (down to 80 in October).

Missing Information exampleScreenshot from LinkedIn, November 2023Missing Information example

It even held the Featured Snippet for competitive keywords like “inductive reasoning examples” for a while (5.4K monthly searches in the US), although it had no contributions on this subsection.

Most of its sections remain empty, so we’re talking about mainly AI-generated content.

Does this mean that Google really doesn’t care whether your content comes from humans or AI?

I’m not convinced.

How Have The Recent Google Updates Impacted This Content?

After August and October 2023 Google core updates (at the time of writing, the November 2023 Google core update is rolling out), the September 2023 helpful content update, and the October 2023 spam update, the performance of this section seems to be declining.

According to Semrush data:

Semrush data Screenshot from Semrush, November 2023Semrush data
  • Organic traffic to these pages was down to 453,000 (a 43% drop from September, bringing their performance close to August levels).
  • They ranked for 465,100 keywords (down by 43% MoM).
  • Keywords in the Top 10 dropped by 33% (51,900 vs 78,000 in September).
  • Keywords in the top 10 accounted for 161,800 visits (vs 287,200 in September, down by 44% MoM).

The LinkedIn domain doesn’t seem to have been impacted negatively overall.

Semrush dataScreenshot from Semrush, November 2023Semrush data

Is this a sign that Google has already picked up the weaknesses in this content and has started balancing actual usefulness versus the overall domain authority that might have propelled it originally?

Will we see it declining further in the coming months? Or are there better things to come for this feature?

Should You Already Be On The Bandwagon If You’re In SEO?

I was on the side of caution before the Google algorithm updates of the past couple of months.

Now, I’d be even more hesitant to invest a substantial part of my resources towards baking this content into my strategy.

As with any other new, third-party feature (or platform – does anyone remember Threads?), it’s always a case of balancing being an early adopter with avoiding over-investment. At least while being unclear on the benefits.

Collaborative articles are a relatively fresh, experimental, external feature you have minimal control over as part of your SEO strategy.

Now, we also have signs from Google that this content may not be as “cool” as we initially thought.

This Is What I’d Do

That’s not to say it’s not worth trying some small-scale experiments.

Or, maybe, use it as part of promoting your own personal brand (but I’ve yet to see any data around the impact of the “Top Voice” badges on perceived value).

Treat this content as you would any other owned content.

  • Follow Google’s guidelines.
  • Add genuine value for your audience.
  • Add your own unique perspective.
  • Highlight gaps and misinformation.

Experience shows us that when tactics get abused, and the user experience suffers, Google eventually steps in (from guest blogging to parasite SEO, most recently).

It might make algorithmic tweaks when launching updates, launch a new system, or hand out manual actions – the point is that you don’t know how things will progress. Only LinkedIn and Google have control over that.

As things stand, I can easily see any of the below potential outcomes:

  • This content becomes the AI equivalent of the content farms of the pre-Panda age, leading to Google clamping down on its search performance.
  • LinkedIn’s editors stepping in more for quality control (provided LinkedIn deems the investment worthwhile).
  • LinkedIn starts pushing its initiative much more to encourage participation and engagement. (This could be what makes the difference between a dead content farm and Reddit-like value.)

Anything could happen. I believe the next few months will give us a clearer picture.

What’s Next For AI And Its Role In SEO And Social Media?

When it comes to content creation, I think it’s safe to say that AI isn’t quite ready to E-E-A-T your experience for breakfast. Yet.

We can probably expect more of these kinds of movements from social media platforms and forums in the coming months, moving more toward mixing AI with human experience.

What do you think is next for LinkedIn’s collaborative articles? Let me know on LinkedIn!

More resources:

Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading