Search engine optimization tools and techniques are always evolving, so if you’re launching a new website or you need to perform a full audit on an existing site, an SEO checklist will make it easier for you to ensure everything is up to date. After going through this list, you can then tackle both the basic and critical elements your site needs to get a boost in organic search results.
Here are 30 SEO points to help you get started:
1. Install Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics is easy: all you need to do is install a small snippet of code on your site. This will help you track your campaign efforts and monitor your site’s performance as it grows.
2. Set Up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Use these tools to analyze your site for factors that might impact your organic search visibility and traffic. Like Google Analytics, the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are must-haves for any website.
3. Monitor the Speed of Your Site
Users expect content to load within just a few seconds. Every additional second of load time can reduce conversion by as much as 7%. Check your site speed with Google PageSpeed Insights and aim for a score of at least 85 out of 100.
Here are some tips for improving the speed of your site if you’re not scoring within the desired range.
4. Make Sure You’re Mobile-Friendly
Mobile-friendliness is an increasingly important ranking factor in Google searches due to the fact that over 50% of searches happen on mobile devices. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly yet, then focus your efforts on creating a mobile version of your site or updating your site with a responsive design to improve the user experience.
5. Check for Broken Links
If your content is full of broken external links or the internal linking you’ve done now leads to 404 pages, this can impact how your content is served to search users. Use a tool to check for broken links and remove or update any that you stumble upon.
6. Create and Upload a Sitemap
Sitemaps make it easier for the search algorithms to crawl and index your site. Build a sitemap and put your most important pages at the top before submitting it to Google and Bing through the Search Console and Webmaster Tools, respectively. This is a good way to ensure critical internal pages get indexed appropriately.
7. Optimize Your Listings
Social media profiles and business listings should be claimed and optimized for terms relevant to your brand, as well as the primary keywords that your customers may use to find you. Be sure to incorporate plenty of details while describing your business to optimize for both users and the search engines.
8. Optimize for Voice
Voice-based search uses different phrasing than text-based search. Optimize for terms like “near me” to account for local mobile searches that use voice.
9. Check Meta Tags
The information you put in your meta title, meta description, and meta keywords may have very few direct impacts on search rank. It does however, show up in the search results, and seeing relevant keywords in a snippet can increase the odds that a user will click through. Those clickthroughs establish relevancy for search terms and can indirectly improve your rank for specific phrases.
10. Check Your Headings
In every piece of content you create, from blog posts to landing pages, make sure you’re using the appropriate heading tags. These make it easier for your content to be digested, and incorporating keywords within headings also increases the relevance of those keywords. At the very least, you should use <h1> and <h2> tags. Include <h3> and <h4> whenever possible.
11. Be Cautious with Page Elements
Adding images and video can improve engagement within your content, but if you’re not careful about the file size of images, they can negatively impact your page load speeds. Compress images and resize files to fit, rather than uploading the original, bulkier versions.
12. Optimize Images
Every image is an opportunity to use targeted and relevant keywords in the file name, alt tag, description, and image caption. This supplements the other page optimization you do. Likewise, optimized images can appear in Google’s image search and act as additional entry points to your content.
13. Optimize Your Videos
When uploading videos to channels like YouTube, don’t forget to include relevant keywords and a detailed video description. Give your video a compelling, click-centric title that’s also optimized with a target keyword or phrase. Be sure to select an appropriate category for your image and make it public.
14. Use Schema Markup
Using structured data on your site makes certain information standout and gives the search algorithm a clearer idea of what your content is about. For example, you could use markup data to make things like reviews, ratings, or contact information appear in the search results along with your website.
Here’s a more comprehensive guide on using schema markup on your site.
15. Customize Your URLs
Each page has its own unique URL, so it’s important to customize it with compelling title elements and relevant keywords. Be sure to use dashes in between words because these are treated like spaces when a URL is read. Underscores do not split words when a URL is indexed, so avoid using them even if they appear visually split. They will be ignored and make it impossible for the search engines to establish relevancy, as your URL will look like an incoherent jumble of letters.
16. Keep Freshness Scores Up
As content ages, its relevancy and freshness score will fall in the search engines. You can avoid this by regularly updating your content. This might consist of minor tweaks, adding new ideas or tips, updating statistics, etc. After you republish it, its freshness score will renew.
17. Add Your Contact Information
Including contact information on your website is useful because it serves as a trust signal for customers that you’re a legit business, and search engines use this data to verify your authority and trust rank. When your phone number and address match other business listings and the existing NAP, it can positively influence your rank and improve your local listings in searches.
18. Leverage Your Testimonials
Having testimonials won’t directly impact your site’s search rank, but they’re additional trust signals that can help you build rapport with prospects on your website. If testimonials include targeted keywords, that’s where you’ll gain more optimization benefits.
19. Include Text Navigation
Most websites use visual menus as the primary modes of navigation. These can create a smooth user experience, but you should include text-based navigation as well. Text anchored to internal links can boost relevancy and let search engines know what kind of content to expect on the other side of the link. The best strategy would be including text navigation in the footer or bottom of your website so it’s present on every page.
20. Create a Robots.txt File
This file tells the search engines what content to stay away from and skip while indexing. It’s common to have algorithms skip pages like checkouts and admin access points. Just be sure to avoid relegating any vital pages to your robots file. You should have this file on your server, even if it’s completely blank.
21. Link Internally
Linking internally is a simple process for landing pages since they share navigation, but you should also include links to relevant pages within your content. Also, when creating articles or blog posts for your site, publishing news and PR pieces or other types of content, you should be cross-linking to other posts and your company pages whenever they’re relevant (and natural – don’t force it.)
22. Install Yoast
If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, install Yoast SEO plugins. These provide direction on optimizing your content and they’ll provide you with quality scores to improve your chances of ranking well.
23. Review Google Search Console
After you have Google Search Console set up, be sure to check your site for 404 errors, 500 errors, duplicate content issues, missing titles, and any other technical errors that Google might flag on your site. Many of these elements can have direct impacts on your SEO and organic visibility if left unaddressed.
24. Expand on Your Keywords
If you want to show up in search results for specific keywords, don’t just flood your content with those keywords. The algorithm is designed to understand relevancy through natural phrasing and use of words, including synonyms. Make keywords and relevant phrases fit naturally instead of stuffing them in.
25. Add Variety to Your Links
Any links you create internally and externally should have variations in the anchor text. If you only use one or two keywords repeatedly in your links, then you might be flagged by the algorithm for over-optimization tactics. Use your brand name, keyword variations, and even the raw URL when building links.
26. Optimize for Local Search
Create content that is specific to your city or locations, but don’t attempt to over-optimize by location. These pages should include local deals, news, event calendars, and other frequently updated content to ensure it’s unique.
27. Optimize Local Business Listings
Build citations for your business and optimize any local listings you have with thorough and compelling descriptions. Also remember to optimize for the user and include images and video when you can.
28. Beef Up Your Content
There’s no definitive word count that you have to reach, but it’s a good idea to have at least 300 words on each page of your site. This minimum standard will allow you to insert keywords and variations of those keywords to build relevancy. Make sure the content is 100% unique on every webpage to avoid any duplicate content issues.
29. Scout Link-Building Opportunities
Use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to check out the pages of your competitors and find out how they’re building links. Once you get a glimpse of their strategies, try to get links in the same or similar locations.
Here’s a resource that goes deeper into link prospecting.
30. Find Content Opportunities
Reach out to influencers in your industry and major online publications that are relevant to your business. Engage and find out how to pitch guest posts. When you write high value content and post it on authority sites, you establish yourself as an authority, and also build quality backlinks to your website.
Now that search optimization is tackled, what do you typically do to optimize for the user experience? Share your tips with me in the comments below:
Image Sources: Shopify
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