Search engines continue to drive a significant amount of traffic online.
But just how much?
A study from BrightEdge found that organic search trumps all other marketing channels, driving 51% of all online visitors to B2B and B2C sites. In contrast, paid search was responsible for 10% of traffic while social only had a small impact with 5%.
Which is why optimising every aspect of your site is incredibly important. Otherwise you could be missing out on opportunities to capture and convert visitors. Getting started can seem like a daunting prospect so where do you even start?
Here we put together a comprehensive SEO checklist to optimise your site for higher visibility.
Whether you are setting up your site for the first time or already have one up and running, make sure to prioritise the following:
- Google Analytics: Analytics measures website traffic and other important metrics. From which pages are getting the most visitors to which traffic sources convert the best, Analytics reveals a goldmine of actionable information. Start by installing the tracking code to be able to set up goals and pull traffic reports.
- Google Webmaster Tools: If there are any crawling errors or other issues with your site, this is where to check it. The tool also provides data on search queries and incoming links, both of which are useful for marketing campaigns. Login to your Google account to connect your site.
- Sitemap: A sitemap links to all the pages of your site, and helps search engines find and index your content. Use a tool like XML sitemaps to build a sitemap and submit though Google Webmaster Tools. If your site is powered by WordPress, there are also a number of plugins that make this easy.
- txt: The robots.txt file helps to improve the efficiency at which search engines crawl and index your pages. The file can also be used to instruct search engines not to index certain pages. Once the robot.txt file is created, you can submit it via Google Webmaster Tools.
- Mobile design: As more consumers connect online through mobile devices, having a mobile friendly site cannot be stressed enough. Responsive website design addresses this by automatically adjusting the content whether the user is on a desktop or tablet. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test to test the design of your site.
- Loading speed: How fast your site loads for users is important. The PageSpeed Insights provides a detailed overview including recommendations to improve speed for the mobile and desktop site.
- WordPress SEO plugin: WordPress SEO by Yoast is a powerful tool that adds incredible functionality from helping you write highly optimised content to optimising other technical aspects for better SEO. If your site runs WordPress, this plugin is a must.
Google relies on complex algorithms to deliver the most relevant results. Optimise the following on-page aspects to improve the relevance of your pages:
- Title tags: Each page should have a unique title that includes relevant keywords. Be sure to keep the titles but within 60 characters to avoid getting them truncated in the search results and consider adding your brand name.
- Headings: Using headers is a great way to attract attention with an appealing headline and to improve readability of your content. Be sure to include a descriptive and relevant H1 tag for your pages.
- Meta descriptions: These are short descriptions that appear in the search results below the title and URL. Just like the title, the meta descriptions should be written to appeal to viewers and include relevant keywords. Be sure to keep it under 155 character and include a brief call to action.
- Permalinks: To improve relevancy, URLs of each page should follow a clear hierarchy. Change the URL structure to include descriptive keywords.
- Images: Each page should include a relevant image. It not only helps to break up the content but helps to engage visitors and reduce bounce rates. Be sure to include an ALT text for each image.
- Content: Quality over quantity. Each page should be completely unique and actually provide value to the user. Include relevant keywords and synonyms but avoid stuffing the content with excessive keywords.
- Structure: Every page should be easily accessible and ideally in no more than 3 clicks from the homepage.
- Linking: Link to other relevant pages on your website to boost their relevance. But avoid stuffing the internal links with too many keywords and make sure to use anchor text that flows naturally. Use external links to reference other materials when necessary.
Backlinks used to carry a significant amount of weight for search rankings. But a lot has changed and algorithms are far more sophisticated. Here is an overview of techniques to strengthen your online brand and improve off-page optimisation for better SEO:
- Social media: Social signals are now directly correlated with search engine rankings. Facebook and Twitter are popular platforms to build a community and provide value to your audience. Social media is one area that cannot be ignored.
- Backlinks: Links still matter but excessive links from questionable sources can lead to ranking penalties. A better approach is to focus on acquiring quality links from relevant sources. Strategies to consider include guest posting and blogging on a regular basis.
- Business directories: Directories such as Yelp and TrueLocal are invaluable especially for local businesses. But the most important is getting listed on Search and Map results with Google My Business. Make sure that all the information is accurate and up to date.
A strong online presence ultimately means more customers for your business.
But it all starts with proper website optimisation to ensure that visitors from search engines can actually find your pages. Use this SEO checklist to identify areas of your site that need improvement and to create an action plan. Going through the checklist can be rather time consuming but is well worth the effort.
If your site is in need of a complete SEO audit, we can help.
Contact us today to schedule a marketing consultation with our team. We are here to provide assistance and answer your questions.