The realm of internet marketing, search engine optimization, and online growth hacking proves to millions of website owners every day to be a massive storm to navigate. Our 2017 Onsite SEO Checklist, recommendations that are used by thousands of SEO masters every day, is designed to be consulted by webmasters as they practice onsite and off site search engine optimization. In a world of link building, local citations, social media signals, schema, and tags, it’s incredibly easy to get lost when performing your own SEO strategies. Today, we’re hoping that you will find our guide resourceful and worthy enough of consulting each and every day. Let’s get started with our official 2017 SEO checklist.
Mobile Optimizing Your Website – Whether you’re using WordPress, Joomla, Shopify, or you have developed your own bootstrap website, it’s extremely important that you take the time to properly optimize your website for mobile browsing. Using WordPress or other popular content management systems (CMS) makes mobile optimization an easy task to accomplish. Google already announced that more than half of daily search queries are initiated using mobile devices, so it’s important not to miss out on the capitalizing opportunities by appealing to mobile users. If you need help determining whether or not your website appears correctly across the many different mobile devices website visitors use, you can use this tool for help.
Optimizing your website for mobile devices is a challenge in itself. Making sure that the mobile website is user friendly is a whole different game. As we mentioned above, there are many different devices a user can utilize to request access to your website and the information you offer. For example, Android, iPhone, desktops, laptops, tablets, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Play Station 3/4, Roku, Wii, and so many more than what we could add. It’s important that the markup and structure of your responsive website collapse in a way that allow the site to respond appropriately when being browsed by all of these browser variations and screen resolutions.
Accelerated Mobile Pages by Google – Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP for short, is an open source project initiative led by Google. By optimizing your website pages to support Google’s AMP, you’re going to be sending a positive ranking signal to Google itself, and you will allow mobile browsers the luxury of loading your content almost instantly. For those of you who operate your website using the WordPress platform, you can check out a free AMP WordPress plugin here designed to help you quickly optimize your pages/posts to use the AMP platform. For those of you who are new to the concept of Google AMP, Paul Shapiro – a Search Engine Land columnist, shares a great article that you can use to catch up to speed. You can also visit his website where he shares other great technical SEO information you will be sure to find useful.
“In the end of the day, the decision to implement AMP is a discussion of resources. If you have solved for other site problems, and have the time and resources to implement AMP, I say go for it. It was released a year ago, and there’s no sign that Google is letting it die. They have rolled it into the wider search results and adoption from other companies, both publishers and technology companies including it within their own product, is on the rise. Whether AMP is a long term product, is probably the biggest concern for most, and whereas I would also be concerned about it if it were a sole Google initiative, I am not just because of the sheer amount of parties involved. ”
– Paul Shapiro
There’s a lot to consider when working through different onsite SEO strategies. First, let’s take a look at the internal code structure of your website. This becomes extremely useful if you have had your website custom developed (outside of a content management system). In most cases, your content management system has already taken care of your code structure for you.
– Title, Description, Keywords. In this order you should consider placing your tags within your website code. These three tags are the very first pieces of information Google and other search engines render when visiting your website.
– Title: Is the name of your website/page which displays in the search engine results page. This tag should also contain your focus keyword. According to Moz, your title tag should also exceed no more than 50 – 60 characters in length.
– Descriptions: Description tags, besides the title of your website, are the very first pieces of information Google and your website user notice. It’s extremely important that information used within your description tags are relevant, to the point, and have some level of click bait within it. According to Moz, description tags should be between 150 – 160 characters in length before the text falls in the Google drop-off.
– Keywords: Although widely considered to no longer be relevant to Google rankings, we believe that keyword meta tags should still be part of your onsite optimization strategy. Depending on which CMS or website platform you decide to use, you can use keyword meta tags to help with tracking and other ROI tasks. Point being, they won’t hurt if you use them. Be sure to take extra note to keyword density throughout your web pages content. (Make sure not to go overboard when using keywords within your content or Google may think your keyword stuffing.)
“Quite often, you’ll see SEO blogs mention keyword density to create stronger on-page relevancy but this isn’t necessary. Content stuffed with keyword density often reads awkward. You can use relevancy stacking instead. By structuring page content and meta tag information around a related group of keywords, you can increase the page relevancy. You can even extend this process to off-page by creating a dedicated page content related to the on-page. This minimizes relevancy dilution when Google crawls both on and off-page properties. ” – Steven Kang, owner of The SEO Signals Labs Facebook Group and owner of Web Savvy Marketer.
– Headings/Headers: If you use Yoast for WordPress, or any other search engine optimization tool/plugin, you have likely discovered that these tools weigh heavily on the use of headings throughout your web page. Headings serve as an important part of your content as it helps readers better understand topics and conversations while reading the different sections of your content. Further, Google also uses headers to better understand content and meanings. Always include a header at the beginning of your content, while also issuing a primary keyword within the header as well. Additional headers can be H2, H3, and so on. However, we cannot stress how important it is to use the title tag first before anything else.
It’s interesting to find that when people suggest onsite optimization strategies word count doesn’t come up in the conversation more often. Have you ever come across a competitor who ranks better than you for a particular keyword, yet the content they offer is extremely thin and often times poorly written? If so, there’s a pretty straight-forward strategy that you can use to beat them. Ever heard of Brian Deans Skyscraper Technique? Essentially, you provide an updated article with lots of relevant text, images, and user engagement. This would be the type of content that would entice users to share, link to, and promote your content for free.
It’s our opinion that when writing content, you do you best to include at least 500 words of content. However, it’s well known that longer content pieces that are properly structured and provide user relevant information tend to rank much better in the organic search results.
You should always consider adding images and videos to your web page content as long as it’s relevant to your topic. However, there’s more to it than just throwing images into your content piece and leaving it at that.
“Remember, Google cannot visually see your images, therefore it relies on file titles and alt tags to determine the topic of any given image within your content.”
– Image Alt Tags: An image alt tag should always be completed correctly.
– Title: The title of the image file should also reflect either the description or primary keyword you are wanting to rank for in the organic search results.
If you are using a content management system such as WordPress or Joomla, these platforms make optimizing your images a breeze.
Personally, I am a HUGE fan of using YouTube to host my web page videos. Why? Still, in the year of 2017, YouTube is a massive website traffic generator that has continued to go widely un-leveraged. When hosting videos on YouTube while embedding them to your web page, you are increasing your chances at generating web traffic through THREE different channels.
1: Google search results (your web page ranking)
2: YouTube search results (your video ranking in YouTube)
3: Google search result (your video ranking in the Google search result pages)
YouTube Video optimization should include the following:
When users share your content across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social media channels, those sites are going to pull information from the link they share which will be used to display to users. As always, when people share your work, it’s extremely important to look your best. With that being said, make sure you have included proper social media markup tags to ensure the correct images and text are being delivered to social networks as your content gets shared. Using WordPress? If so, there are many free SEO plugins that will help you correctly implement social markup tags. (Such as Yoast).
It’s important to understand how to use dashes and underscores when developing and optimizing permalinks across your website. To learn more about the differences between dashes and underscores, consider reading this article by Matt Cutts. As you build your permalinks, try to keep your permalinks as short and as simple as possible while also including your primary keyword. For example, if your primary keyword is “home brew coffee”, your permalink may look something like “yourdomain.com/home-brew-coffee”.
In our experience, it’s best to publish at least two new pieces of relatable content to your website every single month. (Blogs come in handy when doing this). Although debatable, we believe it sends Google the signal that you’re interested and still a continuing authority in your particular industry/niche. If you have a website that includes some type of guide or “top ten” list, try to come back and update it every month or two. This has proven to increase the chances of higher rankings for that particular page.
Content delivery networks, or CDN’s for short, are an absolute must, especially if your website delivers a lot of information to a large audience. Essentially, a CDN caches your website and allows your static files to load from servers that are closer to the person who’s requesting data from your “official” website server location. This is also a great way to boost speeds and protect your website from malicious attacks. We personally love Cloudflare. It’s free, simple to setup, and has a great “always on” feature that keeps your site live even when it’s down.
Informing the search engines about the topic and meaning of a web page is extremely important as well. To learn more about Schema, you can click here.
It’s always important to make sure your website expresses authority, good reputation, and trust. Below you will be able to find our SEO checklist that will help you establish said trust and authority with both Google and your website users.
– Always Include Contact Information: Every website, whether it be a personal blog or a company website, should display some form of contact information, even if it’s just an email. Having a dedicated contact page on your website is great, however, we recommend adding contact information to the footer of your website as well.
– Sitemaps: Another key ingredient to our SEO checklist are sitemaps. Sitemaps essentially allow you to hand deliver your web pages to Google, Yahoo, and Bing. A sitemap contains links to every page across your website (if set up properly) and is used for indexing by the search engines. Using WordPress as a content management system? Check out Yoast, it’s great at helping build solid sitemaps for your website.
– Robots.txt File: Robot.txt files are important as they can be used to tell search engines not to index particular folders or files on your website.
– Completing Solid Keyword Research: Any webmaster would agree that, “Keyword research never ends.” However, make sure that each page is developed around solid and informed keyword research.
– Fight Duplicate Content: Duplicate page content is a very strong low quality signal to the search engines, which in return usually results in lower rankings. Be sure that every page on your website consists of complete unique content, verses copied content from elsewhere. Not sure if something is unique? No problem. Use this tool here to check for plagiarism.
– Checking 404 Errors: Always perform 404 error checks, and if you find any, be sure to 301 redirect them. Using web master tools is a great way to locate and repair 404 errors across your website.
Onsite SEO strategies and tactics are always evolving, which is why it’s important to constantly stay up to date with the latest trends. Do you have something you would like to share concerning onsite SEO and how you can build a strong onpage authority? Feel free to mention those ideas below!