The 20 Minute Workweek Checklist

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Maintaining a website’s search presence depends on several technical factors working properly.

This 20-minute SEO checklist provides a high-level overview of the state of your search presence and an early warning for any developing issues that need attention.

Of all SEO tasks, technical SEO is the simplest in terms of what needs to be done and how to do it.

A useful approach to managing workload is to use a core group of technical SEO factors to monitor site health and search presence on a weekly basis.

This list is remarkably applicable for almost any individual or team in a variety of industries.

Of course, there may be additional factors that can be added that are specific to your situation, but these points can form the backbone of a useful weekly checkup.

Is 20 minutes a week enough?

I’m already hearing the counter-arguments from full-time technical SEO professionals: “You can’t even scratch the surface in 20 minutes a week.”

I agree.

But the point of this guide is to show how to monitor your most critical issues at a high level and diagnose where to spend more energy digging.

Some weeks, a 20-minute exam may be sufficient.

Other weeks, you may find a disastrous canonization error and call in the troops for an unarmed assault.

If you’re behind on your technical SEO tracking, you’re on your way to a big efficiency boost by following this weekly workflow.

1. Introducing Search Console (0-10 minutes)

There’s no better place to start than to head over to Search Console for a high-level analysis of everything.

The data comes directly from Google; the dashboard is already designed for you and you have already configured it for your account.

What we are looking for are glaring errors.

We don’t dig into pages to analyze small keyword movements.

We are looking for the big kahunas of the problems.

Start with the Overview section:

Screenshot of Google Search Console, July 2022

Review these data points:

  • In the performance summary, are there any drastic drops in traffic that are out of the ordinary? Massive drops can indicate a site-wide technical SEO problem.
  • In the coverage summary, are there any spikes in “pages with errors”? If this is your first check in a while, you’ll want to dig into the logs.
  • In the improvement previews, look for ups and downs in features like AMP, Q&A, mobile usability, and more. Are these progressing as expected? If you see irregularities, dig.

Next, move on to the Coverage section:

Screenshot of Search Console coverage reportScreenshot of Google Search Console, July 2022

The Index Coverage section is essential for understanding how Google indexes and crawls your site.

This is where Google communicates errors related to indexing or crawling.

The biggest thing to look for is the default error view, and you’ll want to read the Details section.

Scan line by line and look at the trend column. If anything is out of the ordinary, you’ll want to dig deeper and diagnose.

See the Sitemaps section:

Screenshot of the Sitemap section of Search ConsoleScreenshot of Google Search Console, July 2022

This provides a wealth of information about your sitemaps and their corresponding pages.

This is especially useful when you have multiple sitemaps that represent different sections of pages on your site.

You want to check the Last Read column to make sure it’s been crawled fairly recently, which will vary depending on your site.

Next, you’ll want to check the Status column to see any errors highlighted. Take note to take action if this has increased since last week in a high way.

Check manual actions:

Screenshot of the Search Console manual actions reportScreenshot of Google Search Console, July 2022

It’s a big. If you do everything right, this will rarely, if ever, have manual actions listed.

But it’s worth checking weekly to give yourself peace of mind. You want to find him before your CEO.

Search Console has a wealth of information and you could spend days digging through each report.

These high-level checks represent the most important summary dashboards to check each week.

Briefly reviewing each of these sections and taking notes can be done in as little as 10 minutes per week. But digging into the issues you find will require a lot more research.

2. Check Robots.txt (11-12 minutes)

The Robots.txt file is one of the most important ways to tell search engines where you want them to crawl and which pages you don’t want to crawl.

Super important: The robots.txt file only controls the crawling but not the indexing of the pages.

Some small sites have one or two lines in the file, while massive sites have incredibly complex setups.

Your average site will only have a few lines and it rarely changes from week to week.

Although the file rarely changes, it is important to check that it is still there and that nothing unintended has been added to it.

In the worst case, such as during a website relaunch or a new site update by your development team, the robots.txt file can be replaced with “Disallow: /” to prevent engines from looking to crawl while the pages are being developed on a staging server, then brought to the live site with the ban directive intact.

Make sure it’s not on the live website:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

But if it is a normal week, there will be no change and it should only take a minute.

Each site has a different setup each week; you will want to compare it to your configuration of best practices to make sure nothing has changed by mistake.

3. Examine page speed in Google Analytics (13-15 minutes)

For a high-level overview of the speed of pages on your site, we’ll jump to Google Analytics.

Go to Behavior > Site Speed ​​> Overview

Technical SEO: The 20-Minute Workweek ChecklistGoogle Analytics screenshot, July 2022

I recommend comparing the last seven days to the previous seven days to get an idea of ​​any significant changes.

Going deeper, you’ll want to access Speed ​​Suggestions for page-by-page timings and suggestions:

Technical SEO: The 20-Minute Workweek ChecklistGoogle Analytics screenshot, July 2022

The goal is to get a high-level idea if something has gone wrong over the past week.

To take action, you’ll want to test individual pages with a few other tools that go into detail.

Many other tools exist to dig deeper and diagnose specific page speed issues.

A useful tool from Google for measuring and diagnosing page speed issues is Chrome Lighthouse tool accessible via the DevTools integrated into each Chrome-based browser.

4. Review the search results (15-18 minutes)

There’s nothing better than getting dirty in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Gianluca Fiorelli said it best:

While the tools are helpful and time-saving, it shouldn’t be overlooked to look at the actual search results (SERPs) and not just when the tools flag important changes.

Just type your keywords into the search engine and check if the reported tools match what you see in the SERPs.

It’s completely normal for there to be slight variations in rankings, as search results are dynamic and may change based on factors such as geography, search history, device, and others. personalization reasons.

Check the SERPs weekly and you’ll sleep better at night.

5. Visually check your site (19-20 minutes)

Continuing the previous phenomenon of not checking SERPs, it is all too common for SEO professionals to default to analytics tools rather than manually checking the website.

Yes, it is not as “scalable” to check the website by hand, but it is necessary to pick up on some obvious issues that may be lost or undetected in a tool’s report.

You’ll want to quickly test a few of your best pages to limit this to two minutes.

Remember, this is a spot check of the big issues that stand out, not a granular review of sentences, grammar, and paragraphs.

Start at the homepage and scroll down, looking for anything that is clearly broken. Click through the whole site, checking the different types of pages and looking for anything.

And while you’re at it, take a look at the code.

Using Chrome, navigate to:

Developer Tools > View Page Source

Again, this is a great practice to do weekly as a high-level health check.

You’ll feel a whole lot better knowing you’re getting your own eyeballs right on what’s making your money and not depending on abstraction via a third-party tool.

Conclusion

The 20-Minute SEO Technical Checkup provides a high-level overview of a website’s overall SEO health and provides early warning when something is wrong before the problem escalates into a catastrophic failure.

The goal is to quickly determine that all website vitals (such as crawling and indexing) are healthy and site performance is optimal.

I also recommend doing a periodical complete technical SEO audit of your site to get a complete diagnosis and discover the deepest problems.

More resources:


Featured Image: Kite_rin/Shutterstock

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