Creating a website becomes much easier nowadays. But the success of a website depends on how much it attracts the users over the long run. There are many ways to improve traffic to your site. One of the easy and free ways is optimizing the site for getting organic traffic from search engines. Sites that get high rank in the search engines get more hits than those that have poor page ranks.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of guidelines that a website owner should follow in order make the site friendly for search engines to get a higher ranking.
SEO Checklist for Beginners
You can classify the SEO guidelines into the following three categories:
- Site level SEO checklist
- Page level SEO checklist
- Optimization offered by SEO agencies
The site level and page level checklists are targeted for individual site owners. These are do it yourself SEO steps which can be done without special knowledge or by learning.
On other hand, SEO agencies offer professional services like competitor analysis to focus more on specific area of improvement. This may need lot of money and vast knowledge and tools for analysis.
Site Level SEO Checklist
|1||Create a XML Sitemap for your site and submit the Sitemap to search engines like Google and Bing.||Sitemap helps search engine crawlers to understand the structure of your site. It can be a simple URL list with weightage of each URL. Crawlers check the URLs in the Sitemap regularly and update the indexed content. Whenever new URLs are published, crawlers will index them easily.|
|2||Ensure all pages on your site have at least one static hyperlink.||Static links will help users to navigate from one page to other page easily. Also search crawlers will follow the internal linking structure and allocate weightage to each pages on your site.|
|3||Regularly monitor inbound links pointing to your site using Search Console and disavow links that are not worth.||Inbound links are important for ranking high on Google. But poor link quality will adversely affect the ranking.|
|4||Don’t create unnatural links or buy links or use traffic exchange programs.||Creating large number of unnatural and spam links will result in penalty. Your site may be removed from search results.|
|5||Don't program to send automated queries to Google from your site.||It is not a good practice to send automated queries to Google from your site. Ensure to offer correct search box so users can use the keywords to do the search.|
|6||Try to get links from similar sites through guest posting, forum posting or by offering valuable suggestion to other webmasters.||Inbound links from sites having similar content or from the same niche have more important in ranking.|
|7||If possible, try to get links from .gov and .edu sites.||The sites linked from .gov and .edu domains are generally ranked higher than that of those linked from .com domains.|
|8||Avoid cross linking by generating links from your own group of sites.||Cross linking is to loop three or four sites and link each other. This will not provide any values because of manual generation.|
|9||Keep updating the content.||Updated content not only provide value to the users but also help search engines to understand the site is monitored.|
|10||Follow webmaster guidelines and avoid any type of content that is not allowed. For example, you should publish the content that abides to the local laws in your country.||Publishing copied content will result in your site being removed from search results permanently.|
|11||Test the responsiveness of your site on all popular devices to offer better user experience.||Google gives weightage to mobile friendly sites than those old desktop sites.|
|12||Ensure to check the site speed in different countries and optimize the content for better speed.||Site speed is also considered as one of the factors for ranking by search engines.|
|13||Host your site with reliable and fast hosting company.||Hosting affects the speed and security of your site. Both of these factors are important for SEO.|
|14||Submit your site to popular search engines through Search Console or Webmaster Tools account. Don’t use automatic submission services.||Verifying the ownership will allow you to monitor various parameters and optimize the site better.|
|15||Use Google reconsideration request for claiming your site back in search results. But submit the request only after taking corrective actions for the penalty.||All search engines and advertisers will avoid spammy sites. Hence submit reconsideration request to focus on getting your site back in search results.|
|16||Promote your site in social sites to improve the brand visibility and popularity.||Nowadays social networking can’t be avoided. Hence make use of the popular networks to drive traffic to your site.|
|17||Install Analytics on your site and monitor the performance for optimization.||Analytics will help to optimize different parameters and improve the traffic. Without knowing the traffic analysis, it is difficult for you to take measurable actions.|
|18||Check the crawl errors in Search Console or Webmaster Tools and resolve the errors.||Errors like 404 page not found will affect the reputation of the site.|
Page Level SEO Checklist
|1||Use text content if possible instead of images. Ensure to explain the context in words if lots of images are used in a page.||Though search engines can index images, text content is still easy to understand. The pages with long content are tend to rank higher on search engines.|
|2||Structure the content using heading tags from H1 to H6.||Structured content will be featured on the snippets attracting visitors and reputation. Also it will help to understand the important sections of the page easily.|
|3||Add title to all your pages.||Page title is shown in the search results and also displayed on the browser.|
|4||Add ALT tags for each image on the page.||Alt tags help to explain the image content to search engines and visually impaired users.|
|5||Check broken links and remove all those 404 errors.||Broken links directly affect the user experience and hence the search ranking.|
|6||Avoid cloaking - that is providing different content to search engines that of real users.||Your site will get penalized for cloaking.|
|7||Identify the focu keyword for each page and ensure the density of the keyword is between 5-10% on the page.||Using more than 10% of keyword density is called keword stuffing. This will result is lower ranking of your pages.|
|8||Use Meta description to provide descriptive summary for each of the page on your site. Also ensure not to duplicate the meta descriptions among the pages.||Meta description is shown in search results and is one of the factor to improve click through rate.|
|9||Avoid linking or connecting words between keywords.||Use kewords continuously without connecting words like "a", "is", "and", etc.|
|10||Check grammar and spelling on the pages before publishing.||Users will never return back to ths sites with spelling and grammar mistakes.|
|11||Ensure to have unique content on each pages of your site. Avoid the content competition within your own site by not creating different pages with similar content.||Different pages with similar content will compete on the search engines for ranking. Also different pages may be linked by different sites loosing the external link density.|
SEO Services from Professional Agencies
Nowadays SEO covers much more than simple site and page level optimizations. In order to think and work on broader level, you should have sufficient time, knowledge and tools. For example, when you sell online products, it is better to have recommendations from professional SEO companies on the competitors, type of content you should focus and the country for marketing. It is not possible to do such types of analysis independently by looking the optimization possibilities only on your site.
Below are some of the services offered by modern SEO companies. It is up to you to get what you need.
- Optimizing site for local search engines.
- Competitor analysis to understand the focus area of your key competitors.
- Content strategy for you to focus on long term content generation to improve your ranking.
- Writing reviews, sponsored posts and guest posts for your products in popular sites to improve the popularity of your site.
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