About 80% of all internet sessions begin on a search engine. So enabling your website to be found more easily through them will have enormous benefits. Our Quickfire SEO checklist below will direct you towards creating a user-friendly, crawler-friendly, optimised website.
Your site’s content is the most accessible of all SEO elements. Good on-page content and effective use of content marketing will work wonders for your SEO rankings when applied correctly.
You must have an active blog. Consistency and quality is key here. Blogs should be written for your users, not for the purpose of SEO. Google is able to spot the difference and will penalise you if you’re not up to scratch!
Target keywords & search terms. You should have a keyword strategy for each page, and ensure you don’t have duplicate pages competing for the same keyword. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start. Keep an eye out on the ‘reach’ and ‘competitiveness’ of each keyword.
Include keywords in text body. Make sure your keyword is included in your content at least once. Beware however, overuse of keywords will get you penalised. This is known as ‘keyword stuffing’. If in doubt, always write naturally for your users, not for Google.
Use keywords within links. After you’ve created your keyword strategy for each page, ensure any inbound links for that page include your targeted keyword.
Check readability. Make sure the content on your website actually makes sense. Proof-reading advised!
Ensure your content is unique. If the content of your various pages is too similar OR your website contains plagiarised copy, you could be susceptible to a duplicate content penalty.
Content quality. Your content marketing efforts should be producing particularly rich, informative and valuable content for your users. This will have a direct impact on SEO.
User experience has a very important relationship with SEO. Websites with a strong user experience keep us on the site for longer and ensure we return again and again. Google watches what we do and learns what we like. Therefore, sites with good user experience are highly likely to rank in higher positions.
A mobile-friendly, responsive website. This is beyond critical for SEO. You must have one. All our web-designs are responsive as standard.
Site Speed! Many companies overlook this critical aspect of user experience in their marketing efforts. Improving your website site speed will not only have a positive impact search engine rankings but also improves your user experience. Google rankings show strong correlation with site speed.
Page Structure. Ensure you’re making full use of HTML page structure elements. This will keep your site pretty and readable for users AND search engine crawlers. We’re talking bullet-point lists, numbered lists, tables, images and heading tags.
These technical factors are some of the most important optimisations you can perform to improve your website’s rankings.
Site Speed Part II. We touched on site speed in the user-experience category. But most of the site speed improvements are actually technical adjustments. These include compressing images, scripts and making website adjustments.
HTTPS. Google values security. Securing your site using the HTTPS protocol (that little padlock or green URL bar that shows when you log onto banking or eCommerce sites) is now a confirmed ranking factor from Google.
Sitemap. A sitemap is an index for your website, containing a list of all your pages. Submitting a sitemap to Google will help their crawlers find your website.
Meta-Titles. Creating unique meta-titles for every page will indicate to Google that your content is relevant. As meta-titles show to users in search results (see image below), this is a great opportunity to engage with users before they reach your site. You can use the Moz Emulator tool to test your titles.
Meta-Descriptions. Again due to its visibility on a search engine results page (see image below), a meta description is an ideal opportunity to deliver and engaging, attractive call-to-action for your page.
H-Tags. Make use of H1, H2, H3 and H4 HTML tags throughout your content. Make sure you include your targeted keyword within the H1 tag text, and only use 1 H1 tag per page.
Friendly URLs. Make sure you have easily readable URLs. For example “www.perceptiveflow.com/services/web-design/”.
Robots.txt. Robots.txt can give instructions to search engines on how to crawl your site. If Google finds a problem in this file, you risk having your entire site removed from Google. So professional help for this one is strongly advised.
Response Codes. Fix any broken links (404 errors), and ensure redirects work (300 response codes).
Webmasters. Set-up Google Webmaster Tools for your site. GWT is a free toolset provided by Google that allows you to check Google search results indexing status and optimize visibility.
Duplicate Content. You should immediately deal with duplicate content on your website. Google’s “Panda” update rewards unique website content and penalises plagiarised / suspiciously similar copy.
Backlinks are links coming to your website from another site on the internet. In the eyes of a search engine, these types of links are a ‘vote’ of confidence and popularity, and are essential for SEO.
Number of backlinks. The more ‘votes’ of confidence your website gets, the more likely Google will be to rank the site highly for relevant search terms. As a consequence of our Outreach service, we obtain these links, helping naturally to increase your organic rankings as well as visibility across the web.
Quality of backlinks. Number of backlinks matter. But not all backlinks were created equal. A link earned from a well-respected news website such as the BBC would be worth 1000 links from unknown, small websites. We use several tools to ensure our Outreach is targeted towards the sites that will provide us with the highest-quality backlinks.
Keywords in anchor text. The keywords used within a backlink’s anchor text will affect SEO. If you have a say, ensure the text is targeting page specific keywords.
Active social media accounts! Google hasn’t confirmed a direct link between SEO and social media, but in many studies a clear correlation exists. Whether this is a result of causation or correlation has yet to be established. However, social media has incredible benefits on its own for generating traffic to your site – and this is the end goal for SEO after all, right? So if you’re not fully utilising social media for your brand, you are missing a huge traffic driving opportunity.
There we have it folks. SEO in a nut-shell!
Following this Quickfire SEO checklist, you should have a website that ranks well in search engine results pages and will drive significantly more traffic to your site.
While you can certainly tackle many of these elements yourself, you will find that that specialised help with keyword research, competitor research, content creation, design, setup, and implementation of technical SEO will dramatically accelerate your results. Contact us for a free initial SEO consultation.