Millions of Google searches happen daily, meaning that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential part of connecting with your audience. SEO is like free advertising for your business. If you take the proper steps and practice patience, you will attract traffic to your online business. Once you understand what pushes you up and down on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), you will be able to effectively optimise your website for SEO.
Search engines use algorithms to determine what websites appear on search results for relevant queries. While search engines update their algorithms regularly, we have several predictable ways to assess your website. Today, we will discuss these ways that can help you grow your website, starting with a checklist for your website optimisation.
How to Use This Optimisation Checklist
Most people fail to mention that SEO is an ongoing process. SEO may feel like an overwhelming process, but it doesn’t need to be. Once you make it through this checklist, you will ensure that you always have a well-optimised website. However, you do not need to complete everything on this checklist in a single day. Do the one-time tasks first, then the periodic tasks, and then complete the continuous functions each time you publish new content.
Before we head deep into the optimisation checklist, let us start with a few SEO best practices that you should always take into consideration. These practices will not directly improve your ranking, but they are essential when preparing yourself to rank highly on SERPs.
Set Up Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a tool powered by Google that helps you monitor your URL, website performance, keywords, and also helps you to find website errors. This step-by-step guide will help you learn how to set up your Google Search Console.
Set Up Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides you with an insight into your website’s performance. You can use this tool to track essential website metrics that determine how your website performs in search results. Go to Google’s marketing website and follow the steps to sign up for a free account.
Install an SEO Plugin if You Use WordPress
If you use WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS), you will need an SEO plugin to help you optimise components like sitemaps and meta tags. Such things make your website more SEO-friendly. Yoast SEO is the most popular WordPress plugin. You can find it in the WordPress store and download it for your WordPress website.
Know Your Competitors
Identifying your competitors will allow you to spy on their SEO strategies and determine their weaknesses and strengths. You can then use this information to better your website. Your competition may vary with each search result you target. However, always have a general idea of who you are competing against.
Technical Website Optimisation Checklist
Now that you have a pre-checklist, it is time to move on to the primary checklist. We will start with the technical best practices that you should follow.
Search engine crawlers and website users must navigate your website easily. This is only possible if you plan your website structure. Begin by sketching out a simple mind map. Start with the Homepage and then move on to other pages like the About Us, Blog, and Services pages. Each page should be an internal link that allows search engines and visitors to navigate between pages.
Ensure Your Website is Crawlable and Indexable
Search engines cannot index your content if they cannot crawl it. Due to this, it is advisable to use Google Search Console to check the coverage report for any warnings or exclusions related to robots.txt. Remove anything that causes the block from your robots.txt file. Just because search engines can crawl your website, it does not mean that they can index it. Google Search Console will tell you about the noindex URLs in the coverage report. If you have non-indexed pages that you want Google to index, remove the ‘noindex’ tag.
HTTPS is a lightweight ranking factor, and its extension also proves that your website is secure. Besides being a potential rank boosting element, HTTPS also protects your visitors’ data. HTTPS is especially essential if you have a contact form. If you expect any payment or request a password, HTTPS is a must-have element.
Page Load Speed
Always ensure that your websites loads within three seconds. Page speed is a ranking factor, and it also reduces your bounce rate. Users feel frustrated if they have to wait for your website to load. Use tools like PageSpeed Insights to see how fast your web page loads.
Over half of all global searches happen on mobile devices. As such, you cannot afford to have a website that is not mobile-friendly. Users must be able to access your website across multiple screens. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check whether your website needs mobile optimisation.
Keyword Research Checklist
Keywords allow you to craft content that will satisfy search engines and users. The power of keyword research lies in understanding your target audience and how they search for information. Here are some checklist items to get you started.
Look for a Primary Keyword
Each page on your website should target one primary keyword. Always do keyword research to find the exact keywords that you want to target. Your primary keyword is the one that represents the most popular way to search for the topic. Most people may find it daunting to determine the primary keyword since there are many ways people could search for topics. Fortunately, we have keyword research tools like Ahref’s Keyword Explorer, making it easier to explore your topic.
Assess Search Intent
We can define search intent as the reason behind a user’s query. If your content does not align with search intent, you may not rank highly on the SERPs. Begin by looking at the content of the websites that are already ranking for your primary keyword. This information will give you an insight into how to format your content.
Determine What Your Audience Wants
After analysing your search intent, you can determine what people want. However, research other related topics that your users may be interested in. What additional valuable information can you include in your content? Type your primary keyword on Google search and look at the “People Also Ask” box. This box will help you identify other relevant topics.
After picking the right keyword, you can now focus on creating quality content around your keywords. Here are some tips to help you level up the quality of your content.
The first step to solving your readers’ problems is understanding the search intent, since it tells you the kind of content your users want. After understanding the intent, research thoroughly. Dig deeper and identify your users’ problems and how to solve these issues.
Include an Appealing Introduction
You must convince your readers to stay on your website within the first few seconds. Let them know that your content offers what they want. If you do not meet their expectations in this limited time, they will hit the back button. The introduction is your defence against users leaving your website. An excellent introduction should connect with the readers, build trust, and promise a solution to users’ problems. If visitors never get past your introduction, they will never read your actual content, meaning they will not convert, share or link to your page.
Create a Hierarchy
A hierarchy makes your content easier to skim and digest. Use H1 and H2 headers to create a hierarchy and break your content into logical sections.
Visitors no longer want to read a significant block of content since it is overwhelming to do so. However, do not throw images in just for the sake of it. Create images that will improve your visitors’ experience. You can use graphs, charts, and screenshots if it makes sense to do so.
On-Page SEO Checklist
On-page SEO involves optimising the content on your page. Here is how you optimise on-page.
Use Short and Descriptive URLs
A short URL will help your visitors to know what the page is about before clicking. The best practice when creating a descriptive URL is to include your primary keyword as the URL slug. Short URLs are crucial because long ones tend to truncate in the SERPs.
Write Compelling Title Tags
Title tags show up in Google’s search results and help searchers understand what your page is about. Include your targeted keyword, but do not sweat it if it does not make complete sense. Your post will work well if you write something compelling that will make people want to click.
Link to Relevant Resources
Internal linking helps your visitors navigate your website easily. External linking is also an excellent way to provide value for your users. Links help users find out more information and understand your content better. However, do not force links into your content. Also, do not stuff your content with links since this is considered black hat SEO.
Website optimisation is an ongoing process, and it can be impossible to include everything at once. Take your time and tackle the checklist items. These items will pave the way for higher ranking, and you be ahead of your competitors. If you need any help with optimising your website, contact our Marketing Sweet team in Adelaide.