If you’re just starting to understand SEO, you should know by now: SEO is not a walk in the park. There are so many things to do when laying a foundation for on-page optimization. The to-do list can be overwhelming and also redundant for beginners.
Below is a checklist for small business SEO. It is not necessarily in order and you are not obligated to check all these items. If you can mark down all of them, then that would be excellent. If you can only mark down most of these item, that is also good. Your aim is to make your site as SEO-friendly as possible in order to improve rankings.
That said, it is near impossible to exhaust all the items on this SEO checklist. It hardly ever ends. That doesn’t mean you can’t try. The checklist goes thus:
THE 2015 SEO Checklist for Beginners
First things first; do some Groundwork
Never ever attempt to start SEO work without doing some research. Here are some things you should do. Try not to skip any:
- Read the Google Search Engine Optimization starter Guide: You need to know how SEO works and also how to improve your site’s interaction with both users and search engines.
- Write down your goals: Know what you want to achieve. Know the purpose of your site and what kind of visitors you want.
- Think about probable search queries and list them out: what words will your visitors actually insert into the search engines to find your site. List as many as possible.
- Sign up for Google Ad words and research your chosen keywords.
- Choose the best keywords. The most important keywords, at the most 9.
- Analyze current SERPs (Search engine results pages) for your keywords. See who is ranking and look out for what they do effectively and ineffectively.
- Draft out a list of competitors and do your homework on them: use yahoo site explorer to discover sources of your competitor’s site.
- Search for your website. Check if the pages are indexed. Perform a search on title tags of your site’s important pages and see if/where they rank.
At this stage, you have a foundation to build on. You can now go on the site and begin On-page optimization along with site optimization. This is a very important aspect of the SEO checklist.
- Create a new email address for your site.
- Install Google Analytics, Google webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster tools. This isn’t optional. You must sign up and verify with these tools. Let Google Analytic run for some time before you begin SEO work.
- Use Google webmaster tools to check for faults like duplicate content (utilize 301 redirects or canonical tags to fix this), missing titles, 404/500 errors
- Fix broken links (Try Xenu)
- Incorporate primary keywords into page URL.
- Make sure your title tags are 65 characters or less. Also use most important keywords for the title tags.
- Meta description tags should be 150 characters or less.
- Heading tags. First heading tag should always be H1 along with the page’s table of content. Subsequent tags like H2, H3, and H4 can follow after the H1 tag.
- Overall word count should not be high. Although this may vary with the topic and intent, you must make sure it does not go below 250 words. Pages with informational intent should contain at least 450-500 words.
- Images should have descriptive alt tags and filenames. Be descriptive when naming your image but don’t overdo it.
- Stick to in-content links when linking to your internal pages. Make sure you link in an SEO friendly way.
- Use absolute URLS instead of relative URLs. The sitemap should always have fully qualified links.
- Add Robots.txt file. This helps you to specify the main pages you want search engine to crawl.
- Create XML sitemap and submit to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Have HTML site map and every page on your website should link to it.
- Make your visual design of your site is good. No matter how good your SEO ranking is, if the visitors don’t like the look of your website, you’ll gain nothing.
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly and responsive.
- Check compatibility of your website between websites. (Use Browser stack.)
- Check site speed with Google Page Speed Tools.
- Constantly check your web servers for errors like 404 errors, 301 redirects, etc…
- Index pages should be static: if your homepage changes a lot, you might want to stop that, or at least reduce how constantly it changes. Make sure you keep loads of important text on your homepage.
- Look at all your HTML code and optimize all SEO related tags.
- Add company address and phone number. When search engines crawl your site and see this information, it will be essential to local search.
Next on the to-do list is to start Off-page optimization and link building. This is a significant part of the SEO practice.
- Try content management and guest blogging: You could create unique content, include links and send it out to relevant blogs. This will improve traffic and subsequently improve SEO.
- Create social media accounts and link through them.
- Add websites to major search engine’s local listing.
- Claim your website usernames on other major networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Pinterest, Photobucket, Flickr, Hulu, among others…
- Ensure no SPAM tactics. Make sure your SEO strategy complies with Google webmaster guidelines.
Don’t stop your SEO work. You have to keep making changes, building links and updating stuffs. Strive to become number one on all your SERPs and go so far ahead that none of them will be able to match-up.