The goal of SEO (search engine optimization) is to build up traffic flowing to your website. Great SEO means your site is easy for search engine crawlers to find and categorize, plus, it helps determine where your site will land within search results. Your goal, of course, is the highest possible ranking you can achieve: the first listing on the first page. That's the listing that's going to attract the most visitors. Hands down.
SEO isn't a one-and-done thing. It's a constant, ongoing process that takes strategy, monitoring, and refinement.
There are far more than six constantly moving parts to building and maintaining your SEO-optimized website, so consider this checklist the bare essentials of SEO.
Your starting line...
1. Semantic Content
Just a few years ago, this #1 item on your SEO checklist would’ve been “Keywords and Phrases.” The launch of semantic search changed all that. Today, your website content has to be relevant to your industry or products. Repetitive keywords are out, concepts are in.
That simply means that all of your website content and copy needs to relate to your industry, your products, or your company. Forget random clickbait and keyword-stuffed articles. Instead, concentrate on providing real value: information your customers are searching for.
2. On-Page SEO
Before you publish, make sure your meta-data is in order:
- Keyword-based titles unique to each page. To help search engines categorize your pages, include the site name and the page title. For example, our Contact Us page title is “Get In Touch - Grow With Cultivate | Cultivate.”
- Clear, succinct description tags. This is a succinct description of each webpage—and it should contain at least one keyword. Use no more than 145 characters and be sure to hook the reader. This is what appears below the page title, so it’s valuable real estate you can use to persuade the reader to click.
- Optimized images. To ensure fast loading time (which also influences your search rank), be sure your images are sized and optimized for web viewing.
- Simple, but complete sitemap. With both an HTML and XML sitemap, all your search engine bases are covered. Sitemaps make it much easier to submit your site to search engines for faster indexing.
3. Analysis Tools
Always use the most current site tools to help you analyze your website to find flaws, broken links, and other issues that affect SEO. You can also analyze competitor sites to find out how your site compares and what you might do more successfully.
One critical analysis no self-respecting webmaster can afford to overlook is backlinks. Be sure you don’t have incoming or outgoing links to low-quality sites. SERPs hate that.
4. Regular Monitoring
With your SEO boosted, you’ll want to monitor your campaigns and new content to see what’s most successful (which content or ad earns the most clicks, conversions, likes and reshares). By adjusting your SEO strategy to make your audience happier, you boost your traffic organically. It’s all one big circle. SEO builds traffic, and traffic boosts your search engine rank...which results in more traffic.
To get to that sweet spot where your visitors are coming back on their own and sharing your content with their friends and colleagues, you’ll need to try new things. Depending on your industry, your visitors might be more interested in how-to videos, eye-catching photos, detailed instructions, user-generated content about your product or service in action, lengthy consumer reports, or one-line quips. Figuring out what works best for your audience means trying new things and doing more of what works.
6. Mobile Friendliness
No SEO-optimized website checklist is complete without a mobile component. More and more frequently, your potential customers are using mobile devices to find information. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, your SEO is flatlined more than 61% of the time.
Your SEO strategy should be focused on user experience—on delivering the very best answer to the user’s question. SEO is an ever-changing scenario with a lot of influencing factors, so use this checklist as a bare-bones guide to basic SEO. If you’re not confident in your SEO strategy, let us know in the comments!
Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out. Now's the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.