If you have a website, your ears have probably perked up at the incessant chatter amongst your peers and colleagues about the mysterious entity that is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s no longer enough for your website to simply exist.

Every aspect, from responsiveness down to the searchability of each word, makes all the difference in your ranking on search engines. Some of them go as far as to penalize you if you fail to live up to the standard of the modern website.

So let’s get to the point. There’s a lot that goes into successful SEO. Those search engines are intricate, so it’s important to know how to play your cards. With that in mind, we’ve created a checklist of the most vital things for you to do in order to rule the SEO kingdom.

Content is emperor.

Content is no longer just king — it’s emperor. Awe-inspiring, right? Relevant, high quality content opens the door to a beautiful place. This is your first priority when strategizing improved SEO. The first step of optimization is to present something worth optimizing.

Keep those crawlers happy.

No, not the creepy crawlers of the night. The system that browses and indexes the Web. Audit your website to ensure it has been constructed in a way that search crawlers can easily access your website.

Make it mobile friendly.

Sometimes it might feel like we’re beating a dead horse, but this really is the difference between life and death (of your website’s traffic, that is). A majority of web traffic is on mobile devices, and that number is only increasing, so it’s crucial you cater to this market. Not to mention Google’s penalization of websites that aren’t responsive will hurt your traffic even on a desktop if you choose not to jump aboard.

Position metadata in your favor.

Obviously metadata is important, it’s how crawlers pull your website’s information, after all. But what’s even more important is being concise with your data. Don’t cram pages with keyword phrases and descriptions, take what you need based on what people are truly searching for and keep page titles direct and relative. Brevity will help your data work more efficiently with less effort.

Perform keyword research.

We can all take a stab at which words and phrases we think people are searching to find your industry or website, but at the end of the day, the only surefire way to best utilize your meta is to research the best keyword phrases to compete for. Alongside this research, it’s also recommended to search simulating different locations using geolocation. This will allow you to see how your results will differ depending on city.

Social media is your wingman.

Very few things can benefit your brand the way social media can. It’s free and allows you to engage and interact with your audience. Your audience wants to be your loyal friend if you prove you’re worth it. So, prove it. There are countless platforms available, but the most popular social media outlets to use are Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As a side note: We are huge advocates of social media, but if you can’t commit to regular engagement, social media may not be best for your brand (but seriously, just commit. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s a great way to connect with your customers.).

Blog your heart out.

Blogs allow you to do several things. You not only get to share new, relevant content with your audience, but you have the opportunity to bulk up on more metadata. More searchable content means more chances of being found on that big bad Internet. This also gives you great content to share throughout your social media outlets, which will hopefully result in an inbound marketing frenzy of clicks, shares and comments.

Claim your physical address.

If applicable, always claim your physical address on Google Maps. This makes your website more credible.

Nothing you do toward improving your PageRank is instant. Even if you achieve the first position, you’re always subject to being demoted, but with a little elbow grease, you’ll be an SEO warrior in no time.