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Simple SEO Checklist

I was recently in a conversation on short lived, virtual garbage that engineers in 2021 have to actively consider and put up with. One such item is SEO. Search engine optimization is the zero value task of adding massive value to a website. It is a mixed bag of making content machine readable and black hat techniques to make your site appear more networked than it actually is. Driving unpaid, organic traffic to a website by making it appealing to machines and the target audience. I write my articles here for fun and don’t consider these, but I find it interesting to have a glimpse at what the gist of this topic is. There is a surprising amount of paid clicks, links and information on the subject. However, what information I can summarize here on this web log is free.

Ranking for the keywords and subject of this article will obviously come with tremendous difficulty, given the saturation of this space and the established sites. This is especially true given the low “authority” of this random internet web log. As I’m writing this for my own amusement, it doesn’t however matter to me in the slightest.

Writing Style

I’m starting this with a section that is unconventionally mentioned first and undoubtedly the most “white hat” SEO approach I could find.

Writing style is both about the order of our points as well as the language we use. The recommended structure is to follow the “inverted pyramid”. Starting with the most newsworthy info, going into more details and following up with general and background information. The inverted pyramid style of writing goes from “need to know” to “nice to know” as the article progresses. Unconventionally, I made this my first section on this post, as I personally aspire to writing well, and found it of lacking emphasis in online resources. It is my belief that if we try to convey information with the goal to do it well, it will be mutually beneficial for both SEO and our readers.

Try to use bold and italic typography to highlight or emphasize key points of content. Short sentences and shorter paragraphs and more generally, a writing style of below 8th grade is recommended.

The Hemingway App can help us find complexities and evaluate our writing style.

This article in the Hemingway app

As I was finding this to be an entire subject of its own, I followed up on this with a dedicated article on aspiring to writing well (aiding my internal link building along the way).

On-Site Analysis, Technical SEO

Starting with technical SEO, this web log uses Go Hugo as a static site generator. The page structure and additions of meta descriptions and og: tags are a one-off chore that can be drawn from our markdown files. With static websites site load time is generally fast. We can use free tools such as W3C Markup Validator to check for structural errors in our HTML. Problems are for example multiple h1 tags. The the W3C link checker can help us avoid have internal links to error pages 404 or 500 pages. Outbound links shouldn’t be broken neither as they create a potentially poor user experience we might get rated on. This website features predominantly simple documents, which should make it mobile friendly. This is a common concern since the 2010s. More recently it has also become important to use https, which even became a requirement in Europe under GDPR.

Asset Optimization

Google provides a free tool to derive page speed insights that gives me a 99 performance score on both mobile and desktop with 0.2s first contentful paint and 0.8s time to interactivity.

Optimize assets such as CSS/Javascript should you make use of the latter. These can be minified. Most importantly focus on images. I tend to run images through optimizers such as (which works for PNG and JPGs too) shrinking their size and removing EXIF data we don’t rely on here. Also take care when naming image files for them to be descriptive and include keywords and do make use of image alt tags. ALT tags should describe the content of the image.

If we don’t want to rely on external tools we can use ImageMagick. Google’s own Pagespeed Insights used to recommend image optimization guidelines for ImageMagick and recommended these settings for JPEG:

It is further recommended to always convert GIF to PNG unless the original is animated or tiny. Also remove the alpha channel if all of the pixels are opaque. Note that GIF and PNG are lossless formats, the compression process does not make any visual modification to the images. For PNG the ImageMagick settings are:

convert input.gif_or_png -strip [-resize WxH] [-alpha Remove] png8:output.png

If your website runs for a business, I’m sure there will be value in setting up the Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools and Google analytics. One can hope that less people and businesses would rely upon these centralized authorities.

Adding Structured Data

Essential meta tags that will be used by search engines are these:

<meta charset="utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

<title>Simple SEO Checklist</title>
<meta name="keywords" content="page, keywords">
<meta name="description" content="aim for 150 words">
<meta name="author" content="noxim">

Open Graph tags, prefixed with og:, can control how links shared over social media are displayed. They allow the “social graph” to richly present a card with image, title and description. Note that Twitter comes with its own set of meta tags, sidestepping these otherwise rather universal additions.

<meta property="og:title" content="Simple SEO Checklist">
<meta property="og:type" content="article">
<meta property="og:url" content="">
<meta property="og:description" content="SEO, search engine optimization, is the zero value task of adding massive value to a website in 2021.">
<meta property="og:site_name" content=" - Fiat lux">

<meta property="article:published_time" content="2021-11-25T22:08:49Z">

Create a sitemap such as this one (sitemap.xml) generated for this blog. It tells search engines the locations of where to find important content and makes it easier to crawl your site.

With robots.txt files we can suggest search engines what to avoid on our page. I naturally exclude privacy policies for example as they’re usually irrelevant to the rest of a pages content.


In an earlier article on how to set up these static blog pages, I touched on how to add structured data and the semantic web. Structured JSON-LD data in the HTML header could unlock advanced indexing and looks as follows:

    <title>Article headline</title>
    <!-- ... -->
    <script type="application/ld+json">
      "@context": "",
      "@type": "BlogPosting",
      "articleSection": "posts",
      "name": "Simple SEO Checklist",
      "headline": "Simple SEO Checklist",
      "description": "SEO, search engine optimization, is the zero value task of adding (allegedly) massive value to a website.",
      "inLanguage": "en-us",
      "mainEntityOfPage": {
          "@type": "WebPage",
          "@id": "https:\/\/\/posts\/2021\/1125\/simple-seo-checklist\/"
      "author" : {
          "@type": "Person",
          "name": "Dre"
      "creator" : {
          "@type": "Person",
          "name": "Dre"
      "accountablePerson" : {
          "@type": "Person",
          "name": "Dre"
      "copyrightHolder" : " - Fiat lux",
      "copyrightYear" : "2021",
      "dateCreated": "2021-11-25T22:08:49.00Z",
      "datePublished": "2021-11-25T22:08:49.00Z",
      "dateModified": "2022-01-07T00:15:26.00Z",
          "name": " - Fiat lux",
          "url": "",
          "logo": {
              "@type": "ImageObject",
              "url": "https:\/\/\/favicon.png",
      "image": "",
      "url" : "https:\/\/\/posts\/2021\/1125\/simple-seo-checklist\/",
      "wordCount" : "1972",
      "keywords" : [ "web" , "seo" ]

Canonical Versions

Do take care about canonical versions of the site and content. For example, these pages are available under       301 ->   301 ->  301 ->

For content with multiple versions or similar content, place a canonical tag into the <head> section. This helps save crawl budget on pages we want to be visited, as search engine crawlers won’t spend that much time on your site. An example could be /sample-page/tshirt?size=l&color=blue that could link to a canonical version:

<link rel=“canonical” href=“” />

Note to use absolute and lower case urls for canonical version links. The same can be achieved however with 301 temporary redirects and sitemaps.

Do use search friendly URLs. The basics are meaningful or usually repeat page titles, using dash - instead of underscores _.

Keyword research

On any subject and page, we need to find a handful of keywords we’d like to rank for plus semantic additions. For starters, we can look at authoritative sources such as Wikipedia on the subject of Search Engine Optimization.

A second step can be to Google search those keywords or what you envision your page title to look like and look at in context suggestions or what similar searches are suggested at the bottom of the page.

Google SEO keyword suggestions

Nowadays both Google and Bing also help us identify common questions that are being asked which we could try to incorporate into our headings.

seo, unpaid, organic traffic, backlinnk, meta element, mobile, marketing, web, index, crawl, keyword
research, competitive analysis, on-site analysis

Some of our key keywords should be included in page title and meta tags and think how the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) would look like when you see it as an entry in a list of results. The singular h1 tag should include primary keywords while h2s should serve our secondary objectives. It is said they should appear naturally,

Telling people about your content likely starts from social, here github and generally the sphere of influence that wraps around your topic.

Internal link building helps machines find content and the importance of your content too. On many sites categories form natural silos of information, for example my category on the Go programming language and its leaf articles.

    ... all categories, low cardinality ...
        ... posts on go, low cardinality ...

Website authority commonly denotes the “strength” of a given domain. What that usually refers to is how many unique domains link to the target, the “authority” of the linking domains and if they link with follow or nofollow tags.

External links are therefore the essence of which SEO strives on. You can get a backlink even from Google, linking from here to Google, and back from Google here. It is hard to believe this would do anything positive to my web log. Some internet sources claim it does.

Google backlink to be discovered by Google

I do believe this could fall into the bucket of “black hat” SEO. Underhanded techniques to trick the algorithms of various search engines. I would imagine it is not worthwhile entertaining this, especially in the long run when these techniques get discovered and potentially penalized.

External sites and sources

Linking to high authority websites as well as Wikipedia and social could be considered quality markers. When linking out however we want links to open new tabs and have nofollow tags. While on the subject there are three attributes we commonly encounter that is worthwhile to briefly revisit.

rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow"

The attribute “noopener” nullifies the window.opener object, meaning, the browser does not to send referrer information along with header. It’s considered of mild security relevance as the page you are linking to otherwise gets partial access to the linking page.

“noreferrer” has no effect on SEO. It is used to not leak referrer information to the destination link when a user clicks on a hyperlink and is transferred to a new location. It can however skew metrics in your analytics and tracking by reporting more direct traffic.

The nofollow tag deserves special attention and is likely the best known tag of these three. It informs search engines to not give authority to the linked page and avoid this link for page rank calculations.

Competitive Analysis

What are the top three ranked sites, aka the competitors are doing on the subject. For this topic I get unsurprisingly many results from

If this were a competing business, we’d have to understand the quality and keywords our competition is linking to, as well as the user intend that these pages try to cater to. The search intent, the purpose for the online search. Personalized search results try to understand and optimize for “intent”.

I could go on from here, but I think I already covered all the basics and this list is long enough. Each individual topic could be a whole article on its own and I’ll leave it to the interested reader to follow up where interest was spiked.

Published on Thursday, Nov 25, 2021. Last modified on Sunday, Jan 9, 2022.
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