Also referred to as “search engine optimization,” SEO isn’t just a technique that businesses use to get noticed on the Internet – it may be the single most important step you take as far as your digital identity is concerned. According to a study conducted by imFORZA.com, nearly 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. An incredible 70% of the links that people actually click on are organic – meaning that they prefer actual search results on a site like Google versus paid ads the majority of the time. Likewise, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of the search results. Incorporating an SEO checklist like this one will help you be thorough in making sure your site performs as effectively as possible. SEO is a way to account for all of this in one fell swoop. It’s a term used to describe a variety of different techniques, from keyword placement and volume to social media and link building and more – that all work together to increase your business website’s visibility as much as possible. It’s not just about getting you to the top of the list in a search on Google – it’s about making sure that you stay there. It’s also the perfect way for small or medium-sized businesses to compete with their larger cousins who they may not be able to outspend, but they can definitely outperform. Before you make any type of significant moves online – be it launching a brand new website, giving your existing presence a cosmetic makeover or attempting to reposition yourself in the market at large – there are a few key factors you’ll want to address in terms of SEO to help you get off on the right foot. Be sure to consult this SEO checklist periodically to make sure you stay on track.
Keyword ResearchIf the vast majority of all online interactions with a business begin with a search engine, the first pillar of your SEO strategy becomes researching all of the keywords and phrases that people are using to find products and services like yours in the first place. If you can optimize your website for popular keywords, your rank on sites like Google will increase – and you’ll start bringing in more leads as a result.
- Learn how to quickly identify the value of each keyword. Don’t just optimize for popular keywords – optimize for ones that are popular AND relevant to your business.
- Perform a search of certain keywords yourself. Do businesses just like yours come up in the results?
- Use variations on keywords as much as possible. Optimize for the original keyword itself, but remember that everyone is different. One person might search for “stereo equipment” while another might try to accomplish the same thing with “stereo system.” You want to make sure that you’re optimizing for both audiences.
- Use a keyword tool like Moz Keyword Explorer, Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool and others to get a sense for just how popular your keywords really are. Use this data as a basis for what you choose to optimize for moving forward.
On-Page Optimization TacticsOn-page optimization is the practice of making sure not just that your domain ranks highly in a search engine like Google, but that individual sites within that domain do, too. This not only helps to prop up the entire domain, but it also helps specific pages rank higher and earn traffic that is higher quality and more relevant.
- Make sure that all of your pages are optimized for mobile devices. As the vast majority of all searches being performed are done on devices like smartphones and tablets, Google in particular places a high priority on mobile friendliness when determining page ranks. This means that you need to place a high priority on it, too.
- Make sure your pages are being updated on a regular basis – in the eyes of a search engine, this helps to denote authority. If your website has a blog, post to it as often as you can. Any site update or refresh helps in terms of on-site SEO.
- Fill your pages with local information and make sure that information is accurate. After a series of recent algorithm changes, Google has also started to give priority to geographical information when determining rankings. This means that you could give yourself a very easy boost just by making sure your business’ address, store hours and other contact information are included and accurate.
- Write unique TITLE tags for every page. Writing a unique, descriptive, relevant and keyword-targeted TITLE tag for every page in your domain can help significantly boost your rank, no question.
- Write unique META descriptions for every page. While this is certainly more of an indirect impact on your SEO than a direct one, it can still help separate each page and make it unique in the eyes of a search engine crawler – thus increasing visibility as a result.
Link BuildingLink building is the art of getting someone else to link back to your site from there own. If you write a blog post so stunning that another person links to it so that their followers can read it, that’s something that Google uses to determine both authority and quality (and in the end, your page rank).
- Not all links are created equally. Don’t pay for low quality links just to increase your volume – not only do spammy links hurt your ranking, but it can also get you penalized by Google if you’re discovered.
- Start guest posting on the blogs of related websites. If you write a piece for someone else, a quality link will usually be included in your byline.
- Let people guest post on your own site. Invite an industry expert to talk about a new hot button news topic that your audience will be interested in. Then, when they link to that piece from their own site, you get a link as a result.
- Remove any broken links that you find. Use a tool like the Link Juice Recovery Tool to find a list of all the backlinks that a particular page has. If that backlink now points to a page that doesn’t exist anymore (usually because you changed the URL after it was created), fix it as soon as possible.