There are thousands upon thousands of blogs and articles online on how to successfully optimise your website for search engines. Some are more advanced than others but it’s important to cover the basics. So here is your no-nonsense SEO checklist to be sure that you’re not missing the obvious (and often easy to resolve) elements to achieve higher search engine rankings – these are the things that you should be doing, at the very least.
Make sure the site is mobile friendly
If your site isn’t mobile friendly in 2018, I can only imagine that you’ve been living under a rock as more people use their mobile to access the web than ever before. It is absolutely essential that your site is mobile friendly at this point – here’s a free tool to check.
Page speed has been listed as one of the main SEO ranking factors for quite some time now. It’s understandable, search engines want to improve a user’s experience of the web, so serving them quick loading sites will definitely do that. There was an update in July that specifically focused on how quickly sites load on mobile – so if your site isn’t optimised for page speed, it may well be affected.
In order to gauge how fast your pages are loading on both desktop and mobile, use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool (on which I’d recommend a score of no less than 85/100) and Pingdom Tools – both of which will give you suggestion on what can be improved on your site’s pages and general site or server settings that could improve the speed of your website.
Optimise those Title Tags
Title tags are a major ranking factor in that they are one of the first elements that a search engine will look at to understand what your page is about. They are also the first impression many people have of your page as they are used in these three key places:
– search engine results pages (SERPs)
– web browsers
– social networks.
Use relative keywords to the content and make it short and sweet – the keywords you choose should be 100% relevant to the product or service that you’re offering on that specific page. An ideal Title Tag is 55 characters so it’s important to make sure it’s focused and the Title Tags for each page on your website are unique. It’s also important to remember that if Title Tags are too long, the end will be cut off in Google search results.
Make use of headings
Be sure to use H1 and H2 headings to organise the content on your page. Google will credit it and it will improve the visitor’s experience. Organising your content well can also help you get a featured snippet spot for your pages.
Sensible use of targeted keywords
It’s important to make sure you have targeted keywords in your content, especially within your opening paragraph. However, stuffing your content with keywords is bad SEO practice and your website will be penalised by search engines – so avoid this at all costs by writing relevant, natural content that is informative for people searching for the topic/service in question.
Add value to your content with media
Google will love your website if you use media such as images and videos with your content. This will increase the chances of your pages being ranked above others which don’t take advantage of this. Remember, Google wants to serve the most useful article or page for the visitor – so the more informative, useful and clear your page is, the higher you’ll rank – video content that is properly optimised will help with this.
Build internal links between your pages
A connected website is a well optimised website. Internal links to other pages on your site will create a network and it will be easier for search engine bots to crawl the whole site – and thus index it. This in turn can help to improve your search rankings.
Integrate social media
Allow visitors to easily share your content on social networks. This will not only optimise your website in search but it will also drive traffic and awareness from other sources. So be sure you add those social network widgets to your pages.
Categorise your content
A well organised website will help search engine bots to crawl your website. Therefore, use categories and sub-categories to organise the content on your website. For example, if you have a section for haberdashery & gifts, split it up into separate categories.
An HTML and/or a XML sitemap will improve the visibility of your website and will provide keyword rich links to all the pages on your website. So be sure to check if you have one in place as an xml will help spiders crawl (and therefore index and serve) the site.
Build external links
Creating links to other websites will improve your Domain Authority which will – that’s right, improve your search ranking. If you’ve seen your article or product mentioned on another website, get it linked! You can also research who currently links to your website or who links to your competitors.
SEO friendly URLs
If the URLs for your pages on your website aren’t keyword optimised then this will make it hard for Google to pull your page into search results. So make sure these URLs are search engine friendly
For example – http://www.example.com/forums/seo-checklist
as opposed to – http://www.example.com/forums/thread.php?threadid=12345&sort=date
Optimise your images
It’s important to know that when you use images with your content (which is great for SEO), they should have alt tags applied. These are important for SEO because search engines find images more difficult to understand than text. So having alt tags for your images will improve your chances of being returned in a search – do not spam these with keywords, as they are also read by screen readers for the visually impaired, so make sure that the alt tag is descriptive of the image which should contain the product or a specific aspect of the service being offered on the page, and thus describing it will contain the relevant keyword.
Search engines really love fresh, relevant content. So be sure to keep your website up to date and post new content regularly with a news section or a blog – remember to keep these interesting. Company updates about a new starter, a 50-word blog post with barely any substance, and a near enough carbon copy of another blog post on the site will not help you. Keep everything unique, well written relevant to your industry.
For further explanation of common SEO terms, have a look at our SEO Glossary.
Whether you have any great simple SEO tips, or struggling with your SEO, we’d love to hear from you!