Whether it is a website or a blog that you own, SEO has to be followed. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a set of rules which the site owners need to follow to keep their search results on top of the search engines. Besides, following these rules help in refining your website as it makes the site fast, user-friendly and easy to navigate. Here is an SEO checklist which you can follow to have your website at the top of the search engine results.
Every page should be reviewed, here are some issues to keep an eye out for:
A title tag should be of 9 words. Ensure that the top keywords and crucial information come up before the cut off in the SERP which is about 70 characters including the spaces.
Like the title tag, the description tag should also comprise of the keywords and information before the SERP cut off which is 156 characters including the spaces. The description and title text help in conversions. Remember to make persuasive tags.
This is also an important point in the SEO checklist. A reader gets to know the main points and section of a topic with headings. They tell a reader in short what they are about to read or what content will they see in detail. They also hint the search engines about the topics on page. Instead of styling navigation elements and other text with heading tags, it should be styled with CSS.
Head Section Order:
The BCI best practices ensure that meta tags in web pages are in the correct order: title, description, and keywords. The information which is put in these tags are used to extract the description and title in the results page of search engine and could most probably be what the users are seeking for in the search results.
Image and Video Optimization:
Picture and videos beautify your website and make it visually appealing. People tend to absorb videos quickly while images break the monotonousness of the text. Having them liberally on your account helps in increasing the sharing of your content. Both images and videos help in increasing the rank of your site. They also help in search results while also optimizing your website.
However, both videos and images can slow down the loading speed for which you should reduce the size of the file thereby increasing the speed – width and height attributes in image tags will help you in this. Resize the image files so it displays the size instead of uploading the actual file, asking the browser to shrink it.
The file names should comprise of the keywords and should also be descriptive. Try not to include text in images. The search engines cannot read the entire text on the image, therefore, it cannot index and comprehend the content of the image. ALT attribute should be included with images so the vision impaired can understand it.
The number of words on a page differs by keywords, competitions, topic and user intent – there are three types of user internet transactional, informational and navigational. In order to decide how many words are required on a page, total the body words on the top ranking pages for a targeted keyword. This will give you an approximate for what search engine thinks to be the word count for the specific topic. About 450 is considered to be the minimum required word count. Quality writing is what the search engines target and duplicate and thin content is completely down rated by them.
Underscores and better than hyphens to be used in URL’s. Hyphens separate the words but underscores are just alpha characters. However, don’t add too many hyphens else your content would look like spam. URL’s should contain keywords and they should be short.
Call to Action or CTA:
All the key pages should clearly tell a visitor what their main action should be. For instance, on a product page, the call to action button is the ‘buy’ or ‘get a quote’ or ‘call’ or ‘email us here’. They should be easily accessible, clear and noticeable to the users. The home page is meant for the customer to take the next step which would be its conversion. The language should be persuasive and the placement of the language should be in such design that it entices the customer. This page doesn’t always have to be transactional in nature. If you are a blogger who just wants to display your articles and drive traffic through your writing then a FAQ page could be your CTA.
Social meta tags or social markup are codes with which content of social networking sites is enhanced. Twitter Card markup, Facebook Open Graph tags, and Pinterest Rich Pins are some of the main social markup tags. The tags contain the content that will have the text and image that will be displayed on the respective social networking sites when someone posts your website content on social networks. If you specify the social markup in the HTML you know what will be displayed on the social media.
Structured Data Markup:
The search engines will know what your content is about with structured data. It aids the search engines in apprehending the type of information you are displaying. For instance, on an about page use structured data markup so it clearly shows the contact number or the lane number of your office. This helps the search engines to display it in the search results page. Other things which can be added are ratings and reviews for page or products.
Mobile Optimization: SEO Best Practices
Next in the SEO checklist is mobile optimization. Smartphones have become a part of our lives. People tend to use less of desktops and more of their smartphones because they can be carried everywhere. Search engines love the websites that provide good mobile experience to their users. There are a couple of useful points which you can consider to improve your mobile optimization and thus get a better rank in the SEO.
Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP:
It is an open source project which lets the web pages load immediately for all those using smartphones. If you have created an AMP version of your content then your website is surely going to get a boost in the rank in the search results of mobile.
Voice and Mobile Related Keywords:
With the development technology, voice recognition technology is speedily getting popular. Optimize your mobile website for voice-based search terms.
Site Design for Mobile:
While designing a site for smartphone ensure there are no pop-ups, it is difficult to handle pop-ups on mobile screens and people might get frustrated. They would ultimately close the website thereby increasing your bounce rate. Also if you are interested in letting your users enjoy special effects then use HTML5 instead of a Flash. Their mobiles may not support that plugin. Finally, design the mobile for a fat finger to navigate because if the buttons on your website are too small or in the way of the finger then it could lead elsewhere. Navigating the screen could get difficult without getting accidental clicks. The scaling should be right so the size of the font is accurate for a mobile screen.
Factors that better the SEO a website as a whole is known as sitewide optimization. Addressing the following on your website will help in enhancing the SEO of your website. Here the points in the SEO checklist.
Testimonials reveal the authenticity of your website. Customers testifying for your website gain the trust of other users too. They increase the value of your business and attract traffic; more traffic also means the SEO will increase your rank.
301 redirects, 404 errors or any other errors should be tracked. There are some tools which are available using which web server errors can be monitored. Search engines are not fond of errors and will not think of pushing you down in ranking.
If the dynamic pages are not getting indexed or there are more than two query string parameters or there is too much duplicate content then you should convert them to static URL’s. In order to shorten URL’s, you can use ISAPI_rewrite or mod_rewrite. Although this could be excess work for you but the problem of complex URL’s will be solved. A canonical tag should be used to inform the search engines about the page to be indexed as canonical page.
Ensure that your content is copyscape passed. Also, the search engines consider copied or duplicate content of low quality. For instance, if our website has three pages of the same content then the search engine considers just one page as an answer to the query. The page that you actually want to rank probably won’t be considered for ranking.
Linking should always look natural and should be in acquiescence with the SEO checklist guidelines. It should be monitored closely, your links shouldn’t be leading to error pages or spam. Content shared through social sharing is valued more than anything else. Internal linking should also be considered when required. However, excess linking is down rated by the search engines. Linking strategy is completely a big topic to discuss and can be looked up on Google.
All pages should be linked to an HTML sitemap present in the footer. An XML sitemap should be submitted to the search engines. Sitemaps should be frequently checked to ensure they are current.
Static Content on Home Page:
Regularly changing content on a page can cause tempering the theme of your website. This causes the search engines to rank your website poorly. There should be some sections where consistent text should be maintained on the home page.
Ensure you have one even if you keep it empty because this file tells the search engine spiders what should not be indexed. Ensure that this file doesn’t exclude crucial directories, files or the complete website accidentally, for this has happened with many people.
A privacy statement is also a way to build your websites trust with the search engines. The visitors of your website also know what you intend on doing with the data you have collected from/about them.
A reliable and site which is not dubious will clearly mention their contact information – address, email and contact number.
Tools are important to bring out the data which needs to be analyzed and it is a part of the SEO checklist.
Crawl Error Report:
A crawl error is generated when the search engine cannot access the page. In the Crawl section of the Google Search Console, you should troubleshoot for this problem. For every search engine, there is a different section to access you can look up a detailed article on crawl errors.
Analytics are there for a reason and you should keep a constant watch over it. Track them to make sure whether or not the keywords that are generating traffic are present in your list of keywords or not and that your website has been optimized for them too.
The SEO checklist above will guide you to fulfill the requirements of the search engines so your website always comes up at the top of the search result pages.