Search engine optimization as a practice is strong as ever despite notions among expert groups who believe SEO is dead after Google’s Panda & Penguin updates. SEO, in retrospect, evolved from a singularly-focused practice aimed at boosting ranking to a unique art form that involves branding, keyword research, content creation and promotion to attract traffic to a business website.
In a 24×7 connected digital world, 81% of consumers perform online research before buying something. According to 57% of B2B marketers, SEO generates more leads than any other marketing tactic in modern times. So, it would not be wrong to say that SEO is extremely important for your website.
To help you out in building or refining a full-proof SEO strategy, we have outlined some important aspects in the form of a checklist. Follow this detailed SEO checklist to boost your search engine rankings.
Fine-tuning the Basics: Technical SEO
Before planning to do anything about on-page and external factors, it is important that you focus on the basics- i.e. technical aspects of SEO. Technical SEO ensures that your site is discoverable and easily navigable by the search engines for indexing and crawling purposes. To get the best results out of technical SEO, you need to focus on the following aspects:
An XML sitemap is your way of telling the search engine that your website is ready to be crawled and indexed. A sitemap is just like ‘table of contents’ of a book and a way of submitting all the pages of your website.
You can use any website analytics platform or plug-in to create a dynamic sitemap that gets updated automatically as you make changes to your website.
Robots.txt can be said to be an extension of your sitemap and informs search engines about which pages or parts of your website are required to be indexed. Search engines tend to crawl through all the content.
Robots.txt gives them the right direction to make sure you get the best SEO results. Robots.txt ensures that no critical part of content is missed by search engines to be indexed.
Speed is a critical factor for the success of any website. Online users are becoming more and more impatient with each passing day. If a website is not optimized for best performance and speed, it is more likely to have a higher bounce rate.
52% of global internet users use mobile devices for performing a search. The trend has been on the rise for past several years, growing the need of having a mobile-friendly website. If your website doesn’t have the essential responsive elements, search engines will definitely punish the same with low rankings.
Make sure to invest properly towards enhancing the user experience and performing QA testing to enhance the site responsiveness. A custom web design company can help you out with your responsiveness goals.
Security and privacy are the biggest concerns at present for online users. And search engines have also taken security seriously. If your website isn’t secure and covered under an SSL certificate, you may start losing visitors. Modern-day browsers show security warning to users who are trying to enter websites with no SSL certificate. Make sure to embed an SSL certification on your business website.
Moving ahead with On-page SEO: your shot at better search engine rankings
Once you have aced technical SEO, you might want to look at on-page SEO status of your website. Gone are the days of selective on-page SEO. Today, search engines are smarter and award websites with contextually-relevant and value-rich content, irrespective of the keyword placement.
You can’t just update Meta tags to get great rankings. Here are the things you must focus on while working on improving your website’s on-page SEO:
Topic & Keyword Research
The first ladder to great on-page SEO results begins way before you actually start to pen down content for your website. You need to know what you want to write, for whom you want to write and what are users searching for. If you have not performed comprehensive keyword research, there are very bleak chances that your target audience will be able to find you online.
The goal here is not about finding keywords to stuff in the content but identifying what users might be interested in. Keyword research helps in identifying topics for your website by helping you discover the terms, phrases and topics users are searching online.
Website owners and administrators often ignore the importance of a great URL. URL creates the first impression and simplifies your website directory structure. Including keywords and contextual phrases in URL by personalizing generic URL drives a better message home, making a website more attractive to both search engines as well as humans.
For a web page to rank well, having a clear, relevant and unique title tag is a must. You should follow ideal title length and try to include keywords in the title based on the topic of the page for best SEO results. These days, using dynamic formulas for title tags that populate page titles are also garnering huge support and performing well in search engine rankings.
Meta description tells search engines what information to display about a page on your website in search results. For the best SEO results, you need to have a customized and relevant Meta description with appropriate keywords. The goal of Meta description should be to assist the title and provide information to users on what to expect on the page in terms of content.
H Tags or headings on the web page should be well-organized and include the relevant keywords that you are targeting. Using heading tags in a hierarchical and orderly fashion not only gives structure to your page but allows search engines to index the page in a better way.
Your body copy should include focus keywords in a way that they appear to be naturally flowing. Don’t overstuff keywords into the content of the body as it can lead to penalization from search engines. Remember, this part is the biggest chunk of content that can be indexed by the search engines. So, make the most out of it by creating a clear, relevant and interesting copy for visitors.
Image Alt Attributes
Alt attributes for images are often forgotten leading to lower search engine rankings. If you fail to account for these, you are missing out of a huge indexing opportunity. Search engines cannot see images and make use of alt text to understand what an image is all about.
Adding relevant keywords to alt text attribute of an image can do wonders for your search engine ranking. Just make sure to be relevant as you would want your website to be accessible & enriching, even for those using a screen reader.
Bonus tips: Leveraging external SEO factors
- Link Building: Try to get inbound links from high authority websites as it will boost your rankings sooner than you expect.
- Local Search: Listing your business online using an online business directory can boost your SEO efforts. Make sure to add maximum information to your business listing for higher search engine rankings.
- Social Media Presence: Though social media doesn’t directly impact search engine rankings, being active definitely helps in engaging audience and ultimately push your online presence to the top of search engine results.
That’s it from our end. Hope that this checklist will help you achieve your growth goals from SEO. If we missed something or you need further advice, let us know in comments. Remember, mastering SEO is a long term process and you can’t really optimize your rankings, quickly. Even Rome was not built in a day. How can we create an evergreen empire with some quick hacks?