Since the majority of Internet traffic is driven via search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu etc, its important to have your website optimized with the latest guidelines & updates for Search engine optimization (SEO) from Google and Bing .
This is an SEO checklist that takes into account Google’s key ranking factors.
1. Google Analytics :
Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics software in the world. The latest version of Google Analytics is known as universal analytics, which Google claims, is significantly more accurate, and is able to track even very short activities on the website. Google Analytics dashboard provides detailed reports about a website traffic, traffic sources, top pages, top keywords and even devices. It is a must do for every web administrator since its release.
2. Google Webmaster Tools:
The first step for webmasters for starting SEO is to get your website verified with Google Webmaster Tools. This tool does a lot of things for your technical SEO staff like
- Your top keyword search on Google organic traffic impressions and clicks
- Submit and check a sitemap,
- Check and set the crawl rate,
- Check a robots.txt file
- List internal and external pages that link to the site
- List of broken links for the site
- Top Pages based on Google organic traffic
It also compiles statistics about how Google indexes your website. Webmaster tools highlight search elements of structured data and finally your account is the place where you get the notifications from Google for manual penalties.
Source: IDF Marketing
3. Bing Webmaster Tools:
This is also a free service which allows webmasters to add their websites to the Bing search engine crawler. This service also offers tools for webmasters to troubleshoot the crawling and indexing of their website, Sitemap creation, submission and ping tools, website statistics, consolidation of content submission, and new content and community resources.
4. Find Missing/Broken Links using Xenulinks:
This site crawler software is freely available for PCs and once you add your website it will crawl around the site and generates a list of broken links on your website.
5. Google’s Keyword Research Tool:
Available as part of free AdWords tool, Google Keyword Planner can also help you choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your campaigns. You can search for a keyword and ad group ideas, get historical statistics, see how a list of keywords might perform, and even create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together.
6. Competitor Link Profiles for Off-page SEO :
Webmaster must check competitor using various tools available in the market like Open Site Explorer, Open link profiler, Ahrefs and SEO Spyglass and try to get their own pages listed there.
7. High Quality Content:
Focus on good quality content with natural language and keywords. Good, relevant and original content is an absolute must have for any website to get better results in Google/Bing search engine rankings. Avoid over optimized spammy practices like anchor links and stuffing keywords that can cause a Google SEO penalty.
8. Main Keywords (preferably one) in SEO Friendly URLs:
It is important to plan the keywords placement and presentation to crawlers. Use of the most important keywords in page URLs like : http://www.source-capital.com/california-hard-money-lender/ is considered a good practice.
9. Proper Set Up of Meta Title, Description, and h1, h2, h3…Tags:
Proper and relevant use of meta tags and heading tags can help search engine to index your content in a better manner.
10. Images with Descriptive ALT Tags and File Names:
A ‘picture is worth a 1000 words’. Images are a very important part of an overall web design. They are also searchable separately from the content. This gives the web designers an impetus to properly name the images and provide relevant ALT tag information.
11. Internal Cross Linking on Relevant Resources:
Internal cross linking across the website allows users to jump directly to relevant pages within the website. As a result, visitor stays for more time on the website.
12. XML Sitemap Creation and Submission to Google & Bing Webmaster Tools:
Your XML sitemap controls what and how your website is crawled by the search engine crawlers.
13. Proper Robots.txt file:
It controls which sections of the website are to be crawled and which ones to be left out. Crawlers search for this file in main directory only and generally abide by the directives, though they can disregard the directives entirely too.
14. Mobile Friendly Website Structure/Responsive Design:
Google’s Mobile Friendly Update starting on April 21, 2015 states, “we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results”. Google also mentioned “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” . So it is clear that Mobile friendly or responsive design will be given preference in search results, so any site which has a separate structure for their mobile site or pages which are not compatible to mobile screen sizes will lose their top positions and thereby traffic.
15. Back Links to Your Content/Pages:
The back coming to any web page contributes directly to the page authority and the rankings of page. So improving the number of relevant and proper back links to any page is a must for any webmaster.
16. Social Media Accounts to Control Your Brand Name on Popular Channels:
SEO is incomplete without social media taken into account. It is a medium that provides a direct link between the company and user. Proper leveraging of social media to any business can drive a lot of organic traffic to their website.
17. Video Marketing to Engage Visitors:
A Video is worth 1.8 million words. The second largest search engine by volume of searches is Youtube. Video Marketing is very important for an ecommerce because videos have rapidly gained popularity among the internet users, whether it is news item, entertainment module, training video, a product introduction or review. Videos can engage your clients effectively while showcasing them what you are actually trying to promote.
18. Good Performance Web Server/ Google Page Speed Tools:
Last but not the least is to optimize the server infrastructure for your website. It should have high bandwidth availability and up-time. Search engines prefer if your website is secured with a SSL certificate thus assuring consumers safety & trust for ecommerce websites and is a requirement for payment gateways (Authorize.net, Paypal, Amazon, Credit card processors ) for your website.
Deepak Wadhwani has over 20 years experience in software/wireless technologies. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Intuit, ESRI, Qualcomm, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nortel, Microsoft and Oracle in over 60 countries. Deepak has worked on Internet marketing projects in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange Country, Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, New York, San Francisco and Huntsville. Deepak has been a founder of technology Startups for one of the first Cityguides, yellow pages online and web based enterprise solutions. He is an internet marketing and technology expert & co-founder for a San Diego Internet marketing company.