Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Ultimate Must-Do SEO Checklist

SEO

 

If you’ve recently set up your online business, you know the importance of SEO (search engine optimization). You know it’s the road to successfully marketing your website in the digital world.

Now, what if you could find all the important information you needed to get started with your website SEO in one place? One big checklist that tells you where to begin with your SEO and what to do next all the way to the end?

We’ve built this ultimate SEO checklist with this objective in mind. Once you’re through the information given below, you’ll be able to instantly start working on your website SEO like a pro.

So let’s get straight to it.

The SEO Manifest You Cannot Ignore

As you’ll see, this manifest is set up like a checklist and contains all sorts of important data and information about what to do and not to do with your SEO efforts. The checklist runs in a sequence of actions for your SEO strategy so you can follow it point after point to the end.

1. PICK YOUR NICHE

This doesn’t sound like something you do for SEO, does it? Isn’t it instead something we do when we’re deciding what our offerings will be? Isn’t this simply the business idea we’re building everything around?

No. Yes. Yes.

And yet here we are asking you to make sure you pick one niche for your web presence and stick to it.

What we mean is quite simple, actually: Make sure your website is focused on one topic, in particular. There may be a lot of things you want to talk about, but you have to use one particular brand (read website and social presence with this one name) to talk about one particular topic.

That’s what makes the foundation of a good website.

2. MAKE YOUR KEYWORD LIST

Now, take that one thing and start working on your keyword list.

(If you’re completely new to SEO, let us tell you keyword is simply a word or phrase that users of online search engines use to look for things they want. You want keywords in the content you create for your website (and off it) to show search engines which keywords your content is related to.)

Basing your SEO on keywords is about the only smart way to go. Ahrefs, a great service that creates SEO tools, did an experiment last year and increased their blog’s traffic by around 89% within 12 weeks.

That’s how important keywords are.

To optimize your website based on keywords, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Start with Low-Competition Keywords:

If you’re setting up a new website, be smart and begin with targeting low-competition high-volume keywords. In simpler words, when you look up keywords (using Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush tool, or Moz’s Keyword Explorer, etc), consider the competition category they fall in and pick out from the low category.

At the same time, make sure, within the category, you pick keywords with the highest search volume.

Starting out your SEO with low-competition keywords allows you to rank on them faster, since, you got it, fewer people are competing for them. So, if you do optimize your website right, you can reach the first SERP very fast.

  1. Use Adjectives and Make Long-tails: For every page you may create, you’ll probably end up targeting one central keyword (if you’re smart). Take that main keyword and use it in your page’s title tag, meta description, the copy on that page, and, while you’re at it, add an adjective, such as best, great, ultimate, etc, before it. That way you’ll start targeting two keywords at once: your main keyword and that long-tail keyword.

Another way of turning your main keyword into a useful long-tail is to add modifiers after your main keyword. Modifiers are words that add to the meaning of your keyword in relation to the content of the current page and add value to your keyword strategy. A few examples of keyword modifiers are reviews, in 2017, checklist, course, guide, and PDF.

Do this especially in your page title tag and you’ll see how it helps. You can try KWFinder for pinning down relevant long-tail keywords that people are already looking for.

3. SET UP YOUR WEBSITE

Okay. Now that you have your keywords list and structure of your website, it’s time to set it up. To start, all you have to do is buy a domain that includes your website’s main keyword or topic and get a hosting service to serve your website content to its visitors.

As you begin to implement smart SEO strategies, your domain authority and page ranks will begin to rise.

I. Or Just Take Over an Existing One

This is another strategy in case you’re not sure how to set up a new website. You can buy an existing website domain, which comes with a number of benefits.

One of the biggest advantages of buying an existing domain instead of a new one is you get all the traffic and search engine goodness the domain earned so far. However, it’s a little tricky. So, read these tips entrepreneurs share regarding how to buy an existing domain for your business.

II. Use a CMS

A content management system (CMS) is a software program that allows you to manage the content on your website. Every good CMS has a lot of tools and an easy user interface for you to control your website content the way you want.

WordPress is definitely the most popular CMS available today. It’s free and it has a ton of features to make your website management a piece of cake. Also, there are hundreds of thousands of plug-ins that can make your customization dreams come true in no time.

In spring 2016, WordPress became the first CMS to run behind over a quarter of the world’s websites. At that time, it owned around 60% of the CMS market share (see image above).

III. Go for Responsive

Remember your website design is also part of your SEO. You can’t ignore certain important design practices if you want your website to rank higher and attract more visitors.

StatCounter conducted a detailed study on the usage of various devices for Internet access and found that, in fall last year, mobile devices surpassed desktop computers for the first time. The image shown above demonstrates over 51% of the devices connected to the Internet are mobile phones and tablets.

The take away for you from this data is you can’t ignore mobile friendly design if you want to succeed in your SEO efforts.

4. RUN A COMPETITION ANALYSIS

The next step for you is to analysis your competition.

Why? So you can see what they’re doing right and simply mimic them. It’ll save you a lot of time getting your website climb the SERPs.

What you basically do in your competition analysis is trace out the sources they’ve used to get page rank and websites they’re getting backlinks from. Once you have the list, you can simply follow in their footsteps and start sending off quality content to the same websites.

To track your competitors’ link resources, you can use Moz’s Competitive Link Finder, the Majestic SEO tool, or this great SEO Excel plug-in.

Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. This is a cheat every expert in the industry follows with a clear conscience.

5. WRITE QUALITY CONTENT

High quality content is one of the most effective ways of succeeding your SEO battles. Whether you’re writing your landing page copy, your blog posts, an article to submit on another website, or an e-book for your latest product, aspire to write the best quality content you can.

Make sure your words are simple to understand, your essay flows coherently, and you have your target keywords sprinkled through the text.

Words can’t express the importance of good quality content. Usually, the phrase content is king does the job.

Content

I. Learn the Technical Bits

However, high quality content is more than good semantics and attractive paragraphing. There are a lot of practices you can adapt to and get your content ranked as high quality on search engines. These practices include:

  1. Unique Page Titles: Make sure you have a unique title for every single page of your website. Duplicate page title and description tags bring down the quality of your website and search engines don’t approve of that laziness, especially Google.
  2. Keyword Synonyms in Sub-headers: While you’ll be wise to use your page’s primary keyword in your page title (and mark it H1), make sure you use H2 for your sub-headers and include synonyms of your primary keyword in them.
  3. Optimize Images: There’s nothing wrong with putting in a few images in your page. In fact, you can go on and add as many as you like as long as you optimize them properly. When it comes to optimizing images, there’s a couple of things you need to do: (a) rename the images you’re using to include your page’s keyword, and (b) include a caption-like text in the alt tag along with the keyword.
  4. Add Calls to Action: Calls to action are short statements that are placed anywhere in a page’s text and carry hyperlink to a landing page or a contact-us page. Make sure you use calls-to-action in your pages appropriately to guide your visitor toward the action you want them to perform.
  5. Make Sharing Easy: We talked about writing high quality content – content that your readers love. What happens when they actually like it? They want to share it. So, make sharing your content easy. Make your social sharing buttons visible on your blog.

Like

6. LINK THINGS TOGETHER

Following that train of thought, it’s incredibly important that you promote your high quality content every chance you get, and the most frequent opportunities of doing that arise when you’re writing new content on your own website.

It’s called linking your content internally. For instance, you’re writing a blog post about how white board videos are great for delivering social messages, and you wrote a post last year about the statistics of animated videos out on Facebook, it’s a great opportunity to link your old article in the new one and let your readers go and read it, too.

Most CMS applications these days link content internally using blog categories, tags, and keywords, automatically, but be sure to do it manually if you have to.

Just don’t miss it.

7. KEEP AN EYE ON THOSE SPIDERS

Once your content starts rolling out and you’re publishing page after page of your website, don’t let any of them slip through the cracks. Make sure every single page you publish is indexed in the search engines you’re going for (Most websites are primarily optimized for Google, since it’s the industry leader by a long margin).

Once your pages are submitted in the search engine’s database, the spider bots arrive (usually in a few weeks) and crawl through the content of your newly added pages, taking important notes about your content and design and report the data to the search engine, which then indexes your pages into its SERPs.

Any page that you fail to index will not show in the SERPs, which means you can never have your target audience visiting it.

That would be a shame.

On an unrelated, and yet related, note, make sure you keep updating your website and keep on adding new pages because that keeps the spiders coming, which can positively affect your website’s ranks in the SERPs.

8. GET QUALITY BACKLINKS

Links were, are, and will be a high influence factor in Google’s ranking algorithm for a long time to come. To get the top rank for your target keywords, you need higher quality, and greater number of, links pointing to your content from other websites.

Even the greatest authority websites, like Moz or Copyblogger, have to follow this rule because Google made it (and nobody’s bigger than Google when it comes to the Internet).

Hubspot conducted a study to measure the relationship between websites’ number of backlinks and the average organic traffic they were receiving. This is what they found:

Average Organic Traffic

The picture says it all: the greater number of links you have, the more organic traffic you’ll attract.

Moz also conducted a very interesting study. They approached online marketing gurus and asked their opinions on which factors affect Google’s ranking choices. Here’s their result:

Google Algorithum

 

The participating experts unanimously chose backlinks pointing to domain and individual pages as the top two factors respectively that influence websites’ rank on Google.

This establishes how important getting backlinks is for your website. You want to rank high in organic search? Get backlinks.

But it’s easier said than done. Much easier.

There are a number of problems that make building a good link profile a daunting task even for the best of us.

However, with the following tips, you can start working on getting more links for your website:

  1. Relevance: Make sure the content you create to get links on is about things that are closely related to your brand.
  2. Innovative: Use Google’s results for your content idea to get more ideas about how to angle your content.
  3. Solution: Make sure the content you create is focus on solving a problem.

9. FIND QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Another great way you can use to boost your SEO results is answering questions. We’ve already said above that your content should be solution-oriented.

That is actually the main reason why people search for anything. They want to solve a problem (through a product, service, or some other available offering).

Turn the game around on your audience and go hunt down their questions. Use these tricks:

  1. Look for Forums: Whichever industry you are in, we’re sure you’ll find at least one popular forum on the Internet where people discuss their problems related to the industry. Find these forums, look for the questions people are asking, and either submit your answers there with a link to your website or make a blog post with your answers.
  2. Go for Questions Databases: Quora and Yahoo Answers are just two such names. A lot of people ask a lot of questions there. Look up questions your brand relates to and do the rest from the trick above.
  3. Feature in FCB: The much revered Featured Content Box in Google’s new layout for its first SERP for any search is a great place to feature your content in. To do that, though, you’ll have to do some work.

Share the Page and Ask Questions

How do you like our checklist? Share this page with friends who need SEO advice and tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Understanding Technical SEO for More Efficient Optimization

Technical SEO

The thing about SEO is, whichever one of its three heads you’re talking about, you know it’s there to make you rank higher (or lower) in the SERPs.

For those who didn’t get the hint, SEO has three big parts:

  1. Technical: SEO for making sure your website’s optimized for search engine spiders
  2. On-site: SEO for making sure your website content is optimized for your keywords
  3. Off-site: SEO for making sure you get quality backlinks from authority sites

While a lot is said about on-site and off-site optimization, there’s isn’t enough chatter about technical SEO on all those blogs you must have read understanding SEO.

What’s ironic is technical SEO is the foremost step of optimizing your website. If a house is your website, technical SEO is the walls, on-page SEO is the furniture and paint, and off-page SEO is your front- and backyard.

Late last year, SEJ conducted a study with their Twitter followers, asking questions about their SEO practices. In response to the question what component of SEO they attend to first after an audit, 39% people (making the biggest slice of the pie) said they start with technical SEO.

In this article, we’ll show you why understanding technical SEO will help your overall optimization strategies.

To do that, we first share a list of do’s and don’ts of technical SEO practices below.

But first things first!

Here’s one more way to understand what each of SEO’s three parts is about and how they work together for your overall SEO.

Technical SEO Checklist

As the image above tells you, technical SEO is basically all about your website’s architecture. We’ve discussed website architecture do’s and don’ts in detail already, but the list below provides further help with advanced tips and some new aspects of technical SEO.

1. Run Regular Audits

The first tip anybody should give you about technical SEO is to run regular and frequent audits. This is the most important part of successful technical SEO once you’ve created optimized website architecture.

And when you run one of these audits, make sure of the following:

  1. All of your pages are indexed (except the ones you don’t want to).
  2. Your URL hierarchy goes three layers deep (keep your architecture shallow).
  3. To know only those pages are unindexed that you wanted to, use a crawler.
  4. Your crawl budget is optimized and you’re not wasting any.
  5. Your internal links are up and running.
  6. Review sitemaps to make sure it accounts for all recently added (or removed) pages.
  7. Double check your design for mobile devices (especially those new pages).
  8. Test your load speed and improve it by removing unnecessary and heavy files.

2. Spiders like Mobile

Now that we know mobile devices are growing into a bigger medium for Internet connectivity in comparison with desktop computers, it’s time to understand how it can help your SEO.

It also becomes very relevant for you to understand how Google’s mobile phone spider crawls your content.

Related bonus tip: Google’s added AMP-optimized pages in its algorithm as a factor for mobile-friendly design and architecture. So, make sure your pages’ AMP versions are available for search engine crawlers.

3. Load Fast

And score fast. Page load speed is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, and for good reason, too, when you realize 40% users do not wait for a webpage if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. They prefer to go back to the SERP and try a different suggestion.

The simplest form of advice for this problem is not dump any content (especially images because they carry unnecessary metadata and weight) that isn’t necessary for your page. To optimize images, try to use .VSG images and small files.

Apart from image optimization, make sure of the following factors to improve your page load speed drastically:

  1. Ensure HTTP compression before you serve content
  2. Avoid unnecessary CSS image requests
  3. Ensure caching information is available
  4. Avoid unnecessary plugins
  5. Use CDN appropriately for your static files
  6. Get a good web host

List of Google’s crawlers: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1061943?hl=en

4. Unique Content

By that, we don’t just mean you should create fresh content for your website. That tip would be on an on-page SEO checklist. Here, we mean your website shouldn’t contain duplicate content.

Search engines hate duplicate content.

Google launched a periodic update to its algorithm, which the company named Panda. All these panda did was look for duplicate or thin content on websites and penalize them for it.

As with the case with page speed, Google cares about duplicate content only because its users do. They hate it, so Google hates it, too, and punishes you for making its users drag into it.

Make sure you don’t have any duplicate content on your website. Fear the panda.

5. Befriend the Schema

Google introduced schema as part of its assessment measures of a website’s data structure. If Google likes how you’ve used structured data in your HTML code, it will reward your pages with rich snippets on its SERPs.

If you’re looking at that word schema with a confused expression, it’s simply a specialized vocabulary that you use to describe your content to your search engine. While Google doesn’t use schema as a direct influencing factor on rankings, the rich snippets you can win by ensuring structured data can definitely improve your ranks.

If you’re feeling intrigued, here’s a complete list of all schema terms.

6. Make Your JavaScript Behave

JS has caused optimization problems for a long time. While Google says it now handles JS content well, some people who’ve tested this claim aren’t sure.

With this problem still confusing a lot of people, it’s crucially important that you either avoid JS (if you can) or stick to only JS structures without add-ons (read AJAX), and even when you do that, make sure you do it carefully without getting too smart.

7. Why Not Go Secure?

Not only does Google use HTTPS configuration as an influence factor in its ranking algorithm, it started labeling HTTP websites that requested credit card details as ‘Not Secure’. This was a major shock to the e-commerce sector and a lot of them are now making sure they migrate to the secure configuration as fast as they can. This has resulted in a couple of interesting things: (a) almost all results on Google’s first SERP, the most revered of them all, are now usually HTTPS migrated sites, and (b) commercial websites that do not have the secure status yet get hit with visibility push-downs because users believe they’re unsafe.

So, make that journey. Migrate to security.

Get in Touch

Let us know which of these steps you’ve already taken and ask us if you don’t understand any of the rest. We’d love to hear from you and receive your comments on the article.

Goralewicz’s experiment: https://goralewicz.com/blog/javascript-seo-experiment/