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Search engine optimization has become a must in today’s digital scenario and is no longer optional. Along with all the factors that make up a good website, SEO or “organic search” is given importance within most digital marketing plans. With the rising number of startups- small scale companies, nonprofit firms and even large brands are struggling with website budgets, which leads to the point of not having much left for SEO.

To keep up with this competition, we are going to share with you a single checklist to enable you to work through the important aspects of SEO which can be addressed now and built on, going forward.

These aspects of SEO have been categorized into three parts:

  • Technical SEO
  • On-page
  • External or Off-Page SEO

Technical SEO and the on-page elements are controllable within the website. However, the external factors shouldn’t be ignored and need to be part of a larger SEO strategy down the line.

Technical SEO

First things first! Before you want your website to rank on search engines, you must ensure that your site can be indexed and crawled. That’s where Technical SEO comes in.

Free Reporting Platforms

Start by making sure you have Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager tied into your site.

XML Sitemap

This is a blueprint of the contents on your website. The sitemap file is the modern way of “submitting” your pages to the search engines. It helps google crawlers to access all the links on your website.

Robots.txt

This file instructs the search engines on pages or parts of the site to not be indexed. Generally, the search engines will look at all the content they can find. Make sure this file is accurate, even if you don’t want to restrict crawlers from indexing any page on your site.

Domains

If you own more than one domain, make sure you know what each of your additional domain names are doing. If they are parked and not in use, that’s fine. If by any chance they redirect to your website, check to ensure that they have 301 redirect to it. Despite knowing it’s a quick area to simply check, it should not be overlooked it as it causes issues with duplicate content and confusion over which domain name is the real one.

Site Architecture

Ideally making your structure and URLs to match the literal page and file structure of content on the site is a great goal. Taking a step back and mapping out your site structure or sitemap makes for a great starting point. It helps you to think about the content, how to prioritize certain aspects of your website, and how to funnel your users.

Site Speed

Search engines have started to play a major role over the years in ranking factors. They look for ways to minimize JavaScript and heavy loading pieces of code in your pages, while also finding ways to cache or load elements externally.

Mobile-Friendly

It’s a given that inorder to be mobile-friendly, you have to make sure to run it on Google’s ‘mobile-friendly test. Do as much user experience (UX) and quality assurance (QA) testing to make sure it truly works for your users on all the devices you expect them to use.

On-Page

Those days of optimizing just single parts of pages or websites are gone. Search engines care about context more than the keywords, so just updating meta-tags or body copy will not work.

Keywords & Topics

Before working on building context, you must know what you want to build it for. Keyword research or broader research on your target audiences is must. If you don’t have past experience on the same, you need to pause and take some time to learn about the topics and phrases that your audience might use to find your website.
Remember that the age old tactic of stuffing terms into pages or tags are long gone.

Content

Content is your main base for everything.
If you have less relatable content and aspects on your website, it is hard to compete with robust and full-content websites. Always remember that high quantity words never beat high quality words. But, achieving both will ensure you become an even better competitor.

URL

URL is a platform where you can present a clean directory structure that includes keywords and context as to what the website is about. Don’t miss this opportunity to customize the URL paths.

Meta Title

The title tag alone won’t do much for you. You need to have a relevant, unique tag for each page, also being mindful of the best practices for length and keywords.

Meta Description

Just like the title tag, we need to have a custom and topically relevant keyword-focused meta description for each page.

Headings

While using heading tags, make sure it is done in an organized fashion and these tags contain relevant keywords. Often, website platforms or developers use these for CSS purposes so you might have no H1 tag on a page and a bunch of H6 tags. However you should try having at least the first tag as an h1.

Body Copy

Body copy is often the biggest block of indexable content. Remember to focus keywords in the body copy, as you need to tie the context you’re building up to this point. Do what’s natural and focus on the bigger picture to ensure you are in a good shape.

Image Alt Attributes

Alt text is an indication for the search engines to understand what an image is about. This is another opportunity to use keywords into a webpage.

External

This is the bonus section.

External factors are things that you just can’t manage on your website and don’t essentially constitute a list.

Inbound link (a.k.a. backlink) your website from credible and authoritative websites. These links play an enormous role in SEO. There’s plenty said regarding making great content that people naturally wish to link to. To supplement that awesome content, it doesn’t hurt to look for nice sources of quality links. This can be done through natural relationships and attainable traffic sources in the industry.

Focus your efforts on quality sources that are relevant to your subject material and never get a link that violates the search engines various pointers.

Local Search

Having a physical business, local directory and search websites citations are key.

While claiming and properly owning your listing helps defend your brand at a basic level, you need to check if your name, address, and number (NAP data) are correct and consistent across all native and social directory listing sites.

There’s a complete native directory system, and if you are able to tackle NAP knowledge, you’ll build a decent foundation.

Social Media

Social media also can enhance your SEO efforts (along with other digital marketing), even though it won’t directly impact your rankings.

Ensuring that your website is linked to your active and owned social media accounts and vice versa is an important step.

Beyond that, you need to confirm that your level of engagement is on par along with your high ranking peers. By understanding what your competition is doing you'll be able to make sure that your social side of SEO is covered.

Conclusion

Optimizing your website isn’t fast, easy, or a one-time affair. However you have to start somewhere.

If you are be able to master your technical and on-page SEO and also influence the proper external factors, you have set up your website for success.