13 SEO Best Practices Checklist

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SEO ChecklistsDo you find yourself doing the same SEO tasks each time you launch a new campaign?

Well, you’re not alone, I actually wrote this checklist with you in mind.

These are the same checklists that I use to optimize my web pages. My clients use them over and over again.

They would work for software companies, local businesses, and eCommerce brands.

As a rule of thumb, you should always use an updated SEO best practices checklist. This way, you’ll save time and feel confident in the results you will get.

Let’s begin with on-page SEO.

On-Page Optimization

While Google has updated their search algorithms several times over the past few years, on-page factors have not really been affected that much.

However, you need to regularly you review all important pages from the homepage to your about page.

You should have the following in mind when optimizing your web pages:

1).  Style your header section

It’s important to ensure that your pages’ meta tags are placed in the right order.

It should be in this format: title, description, and keywords.

<head>
<title>Your Page Title Lives Here</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Describe your page here”>
<meta http-equiv=”content-type” content=”text/html;charset=UTF-8″>
</head>

The information you include in your header section is used to show a summary of your web page in Google search results.

 

2).  Write a clear and beneficial title tag

The title tag is simply the main entry-point to your content — it’s the clickable text that appears on search engine result page.

 

title tag.png

 

Here’s how the title tag looks like in code.

<head>

<title>25 SEO Best Practices Checklist</title>

 </head>

Note: If you’re a WordPress user, then the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast allows you to create a custom title tag within the plugin interface.

 

 

You should consider the following when writing your title:

  1. Ensure that your title tags are descriptive and short — be sure it doesn’t exceed 70 characters, so that the title displays properly in the organic results. If your title tag is longer than expected, it will show ellipsis like this:

This is how it should be:

 

  1. Don’t stuff your title tag with a list of keywords.

  1. It’s recommended to put at least one of your keyword in the title naturally.

3).  Write a compelling meta description

It’s important that your meta description includes the most important information about your website content—which should be about 24 words and 156 characters including spaces.

As much as possible, try to include a variation of your primary keyword when writing your meta descriptions.

For example, if your keyword is “B2B lead generation,” instead of mentioning it in the meta description, you can use its synonym or variation, such as “get B2B leads” or “B2B user acquisition.”

It’s important that you do this because your meta description is what your prospect sees and considers before clicking through to your website. Yes, your meta description and your title tag are your only chance to get your target audience to navigate to your site.

4).  Use relevant heading tags

Several studies have shown that users don’t read every word on your page. About 55% of them.

Readers skim your content until they find the section that hooks, then, and only then will they concentrate to read that section.

Since 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website, you have less time to actually capture their attention — it’s recommended that you use heading tags to separate sections of your content to help readers find the part that piques their interest.

Search engines also use heading tags to know the topical relevance of your page.

So technically, you should ensure that the first heading tag within the content should be the <h1> tag.

Then other heading tags can follow like <h2>, <h3>, <h4> etc., and should be used like your page’s table of content.

5).  Go in-depth with your content

Although the number of words you write for a particular topic will depend on the topic, it’s important you write very detailed and engaging content.

why?

Because a lot of digital marketing companies and marketers have recorded tremendous growth with long-form content.

For example, Neil Patel and Brian Dean comes to mind. In the last couple years, both of them focused on creating high-quality and detailed content – up to 2,000-word and more.

In fact, Brian Dean had only published 34 posts on his blog and receives more than 100,000 monthly visitors.

It’s simple, Google wants you to provide valuable content to your audience and prove your expertise.

6).  Use a clear call-to-action

Your readers will not do anything on your website until you nudge them.

It’s very important that you make your call to action very obvious — specifying exactly what the reader will get when they click.

Companies spend thousands of dollars split testing different call to actions buttons, copy, color, placement, and style. You should do the same.

Take a closer look at this:

You’ll notice that the first place your eyes goes to is the “Join Free for a Month” button.

Netflix must have experimented with several other colors and copy and found that what converts best is the red color and the current copy.

Who wouldn’t want to join free for a month?

Through testing, you will be 98% sure of what works best for your audience.

More so, your content also needs a call to action. In this case, it could be a link to another post, or your products. It might even be a simple nudge for people to leave a comment on your blog.

Did you notice Brian Dean’s post closely? Almost all have at least 200 useful comments, which is because he’s asked his loyal readers to comment. With this level of engagement, your search rankings is bound to improve. Why not?

After all, Google rewards websites and web pages that engage users and satisfies them every single time.

7).  Optimize your image and video

While large images and videos can slow down the speed of your site, if they’re used appropriately they can generate traffic to your site significantly.

Images and videos are really very important in engaging your audience. As recent research has shown that content with relevant images received 94% more views than content without.

 

 

Here are a few tips to help optimize your images and videos for search engines.

For images:

  • Ensure you use meaningful file names related to your image

  • Ensure that you make your images responsive

  • Reduce the size of the images (make it 1 MB or less)

  • Add alt text to your images

  • Give a brief description of your image. If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, you can do it easily.

While for videos you should do this:

  • Use meaningful titles and descriptions.

  • Specify a location for the video thumbnail

  • Create a dedicated page for each video

  • Check your robots.txt to determine if google is indexing your videos

8).  URL Optimization

Many times I get this question from my clients, “should I use hyphens or underscore to separate each word in my URL?”

The simple answer is to use hyphens.

Underscores are alpha characters and do not necessarily separate words.

According to Matt Cutts, Head of WebSpam at Google, if you already web pages with underscores in the URL don’t go renaming them. It will cause broken links.

Here are a few URL optimization best practices:

  1. Short URLs are the best

  2. Add at most one keyword to your URL if it’s relevant.

  3. Your URL should be descriptive

9).  Fully qualified links

Relative links sometimes lead to crawling issues.

So, the best you can do is to always use fully qualified links. A fully qualified URL will contain the http:// (or https://www ). “http//www.” else, you’ll causing crawling issues.

More importantly, the fully qualified or absolute links makes it easier for search engines to find, crawl, and index your fresh content pages.

10).  Content freshness

It’s great to have a periodic content audit. You should check what’s working and what to improve upon.

Check content that is generating the most traffic, improve it and also update the content that’s outdated.

For example, this checklist is constantly been updated to align with the latest SEO best practices.

11).  Make JavaScript and CSS external

Be sure that you don’t have unnecessary lines of code before the body text so that it doesn’t try to compete with your rich body content.

And also to help significantly increase the loading speed.

To get the most out of your website, you should externalize all of your CSS and javascript codes.

Now, let’s look at optimizing your website for mobile devices:

Mobile Optimization

A Recent study has shown that 80% of internet users use smartphones.

 

 

Since the greatest percentage of internet users use smartphones you won’t go wrong by targeting mobile users.

Optimization for mobile devices has become even more important for marketers. In 2015, Google took an interest in mobile-friendliness websites. Several websites that were not mobile friendly lost their organic placements.

Here are a few things to consider:

12).  Mobile Usability

Before targeting mobile users with your marketing offers, you MUST ensure that your website design is easy to navigate for the target audience.

  • Are your navigation bars visible enough on mobile devices?

  • Are your text visible enough on mobile devices?

  • Is your content relevant to your audience?

  • Is information on your web page incomplete when viewed on mobile devices?

  • Is your website responsive?

These are questions you should ask to know if your website has mobile usability problem or not.

However, you can use the Google usability tool to examine your website’s mobile usability which is even more critical to the success of your mobile campaigns.

13).  Target mobile and voice-related keywords

Google Voice search is awesome.

Are you taking advantage of it?

It’s important that you optimize your content for mobile search — using search terms that potential buyers enter into the search engines, like “near me”, for example: “where is a drug store new me?”.

In simple terms speak the language of your audience. Ask them questions. And use their feedback and insights to create more engaging content.

Measure performance with Web Analytics

Are you tracking your website’s most important metrics with web analytics tools?

With your analytics tool, you can effectively monitor your website to know if the keywords that are generating traffic are been optimized for your site.

With that being said, you’ll be able to make good decisions based on the data available.

Conclusion

Given the choice, your customers would prefer a website that’s easy to use; they should find the information that brought them from the search engines.

Once your website starts to rank in Google, most people would visit your website directly, and others would be happiest if they never had to scroll down the first page of Google to find you.

If you observe closely, you’ll agree with me that SEO success hinges on two things:

  • Great content.

  • Lots of quality links.

If you have great content but very few or no links you will find it difficult to rank in Google. On the flip side, if your content sucks and you have strategies for getting lots of links, trust me, you may end up ranking in Google but you’ll not maximize your sales and revenue.

The rule is to find a balance between content and backlinks. We’ve already covered this aspect in our training videos. You should join us.

Haley Reynolds is the founder of SaaS Brand. He consults with Fortune 500 SaaS Companies to increase their online visibility through SEO. Get in touch with him by clicking the "contact us" button in the menu.
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