Been doing your own SEO?
If your on-page SEO techniques have remained largely the same over the past few years, it’s time to wake up to what’s going on right now.
While catching up after a few years can be daunting, even shorter lapses bring certain challenges, and you may be surprised at how much things can change in just a short time. To get back up to speed, use the below ‘basic’ tools checklist to sharpen your SEO skills.
Install Analytics Tools
Add your site to Bing’s Webmaster Tools, Google’s Search Console and Google Analytics to learn which factors are affecting your site’s search traffic. With site analytics, you can get valuable insights into your target market’s demographics, which can help you hone your marketing efforts. Make sure these are all setup for your website.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights
Page load speeds are a primary factor in on-page SEO, which is why this on the top of our SEO checklist. If it takes more than two or three seconds for your site to load, your visitors may get impatient and go elsewhere. With Google’s Page Speed Insights tool, you can learn what’s making your site slow and get some valuable tips on speeding things up.
Have a Properly Equipped CMS
Another important step is to ensure that your CMS (content management system) has a search engine optimization plugin that lets you write titles, descriptions, image tags, page tags, and headers. These plugins should also permit you to format your articles with spell check, italics, bold print, and other features. Naturally, we are going to recommend WordPress plugins for this. If you use a CMS other than WordPress, just Google “SEO Plugin for ‘yourcms'”. The Yoast SEO plugin works best with WordPress, and it’s a great choice.
Ensure That Your Site is Mobile Friendly (Responsive)
As you probably know by now, most web searchers get their information via smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Therefore, it’s important to design your site with portability in mind. A consistent design language is key; your site should look the same, no matter where it’s being viewed. In 2018, Google started their Mobile-First Indexing and it is now the primary search algorythm for all Google Searches. What this means is that your website “must” be responsive or it WILL be penalized by Google.
Validate CSS and HTML
- Use the World Wide Web Consortium to validate your CSS and HTML coding
- Make and upload sitemap.xml
- Put the pages with the most potential at the top
- Submit sitemap links to Bing and Google by using the appropriate section in Webmaster Tools or Search Console
- Create and upload robots.txt, which contains instructions on which pages to index and which to ignore
- Perform an SEO evaluation, fixing structured data, HTML, on-page SEO, mobile usability, and blocked resources as necessary
Next up on the SEO checklist are redirects. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to point out redirects and fix what’s broken. The tool is free for 500 URLs. While the tool does more than report redirects, much of it has already been covered in the sections above. Related, if you are using WordPress, install the Broken Link Checker plugin. This plugin will report to you (via email) all broken links on a website and allow easy methods to correct them. This is an amazing plugin and really saves time if you manage multiple WP sites.
Test the Site Load
If your site scores at 85 or above on Google Page Insights, that’s great, but it’s meaningless unless the site can handle an influx of visitors. If the site’s speed declines, you’ll not only lose customers, your search engine rankings will take a nosedive as well. ZebraTester allows you to test your site load free, and if your hosting plan doesn’t make the grade, it’s time for a change.
Install SSL Certificates
SSL certificates add another layer of trust for your customers. They encrypt buyer inputs, give your site HTTPs status, and more. It can help you build trust with your customers and the search engines at a relatively low price. HTTPS is a high ranking factor in SEO and will soon become required to avoid ranking penalties.
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Claim Your Business’ Listings
Whether or not you have a brick-and-mortar presence, it’s important to claim your listings. Claim your company name and URL on directories and social networks such as Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google My Business to increase visibility for customers near and far.
Google My Business also has a number of tools that will add trust and authority to your website in the eyes of Google. GMB should be your priority in Business listings!
Thanks to Siri and other virtual assistants, we can now talk to our phones. When AI (artificial intelligence) evolves sufficiently, your phone will learn how to talk back to you. It’s important to think of how your website would sound if read out loud by a virtual assistant. If it doesn’t sound natural or its information is incomplete, visitors aren’t likely to move through to your site. Keep the tone conversational and easy to understand, unless you’re in a highly technical niche. If you do it right, your site may even get into Google’s Answer box.
They days are gone, where you need to “over-pepper” keywords in your website content. Just keep it simple, to the point and relative.
By following this checklist, you can greatly increase your site’s on- and off-page SEO health. It’s important to consider that SEO isn’t just about technical optimization, as vital as it may be. It’s also about giving your users valuable content that earns more clicks and brings more revenue.
While we could .go on for days about “how” to manage your SEO efficiently, just start with the basics first. With these basic SEO checklist tips in mind, your site will never be outdated.