Simple SEO Checklist for Your New Website
Do you have your website ready to launch and are desperately in need of a step-by-step, simple search engine optimization (SEO) checklist to use before going live? If that’s you, you’re going to love this post.
In this post, we’ll discuss an easy process that will drive more traffic and more customers to your new website as quickly as possible. First, let’s see how far we’ve come.
Looking down memory lane, ranking a web page on Google simply required you to craft a glossary of articles stuffed with hundreds of relevant keywords and a little manual link building. If you try doing that today, you’ll be out of the game before you even realize it.
We are living in the post-Panda and Penguin update era, which demands fresh content and well-planned search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
Our current era is characterized by significant algorithm updates that sees millions of web pages de-ranked by Google. Gaming the system to rank at the top is now difficult to achieve, especially when everyone is trying to do the same thing.
So, what should you check before launching your site? Read on to find easy steps any beginner can take to increase website SEO in 2019.
Install Google Analytics
Coming in at the top of our checklist is installing Google Analytics. This tool will help you determine which keywords are successfully driving traffic to your website. Many new websites only focus on website ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), when they could be optimizing content and pages for their most relevant keywords.
How much traffic should your site actually be getting? The true measure of on-page SEO and the best way to appreciate how organic traffic is generating leads for you is by using the Google Analytics tool. It is, perhaps, the best free analytic resource you’ll find out there today. Use it religious and you’ll find your SEO strategy will be made simple.
The Google Analytics tool will help you understand critical data like:
- The amount of organic traffic your site is receiving versus how much is coming from elsewhere
- The quality of search traffic that your site is getting and the exact keywords used during the search
- The performance of your organic traffic along the lines of dollar value by simply comparing how much your keywords are worth in pursuance of Google AdWords
- The pages in your website that are loading sluggishly and hindering the general user experience
Installing this tool to your site is easy. All you need to do is install the Google Analytics plugin if you are using a Content Management System like WordPress. Most website builders have Google Analytics integrated into their systems; however, if you have created a website that doesn’t automatically support Google Analytics, you will need to install its code into the header of you website.
Add Your Website to the Google Search Console
A little while ago, the Google Search Console was known as the Webmaster tool. Its main purpose is to help you track your website’s performance in search and see which keywords you are ranking for. It is a great tool that will easily help enhance your site’s on-page SEO.
If you are determined to improve your SEO rankings, you need to add and verify your site, thus enabling you to analyze its productivity in many ways. This free resource will help you appreciate:
- How much traffic you are getting through search
- Your site’s click-through rate and how new users are finding you
- The most common devices used to browse your site
- The best performing pages on your site
Setting up the Google Search Console only takes a few minutes, so there’s no excuse not having it.
When Google gets an error trying to crawl your website, it will appear in Google Search Console’s Coverage report.
If Google can’t access your page, it won’t rank. Be sure to check from time to time after your website’s launch to make sure you don’t have any problems.
Avoid Duplicate Tags
When you have similar topics on your website, you may run into duplicate content. If you don’t plan your title and meta tags with care, Google can confuse your two pages and not know which one to rank.
You can avoid duplication by creating a clear site link structure for every page, each with a distinct URL name.
In terms of creating content, don’t spin or rephrase content. You should aspire to always make unique content. If you see you have two posts on your blog that are incredibly similar, delete one and combine the content.
Add Your Website to Bing Webmaster Tools
It’s no secret that Google rules the world of search. Comparing Google to Bing would be a great disservice to Google. As a matter of fact, the lion’s share of your traffic will come from Google; whereas, only one-third traffic may come from Bing. However, that doesn’t mean that you should overlook the Bing Webmaster tools, as one third is a sizable amount of traffic. Bing holds significance in the SEO world in the following ways:
- We all want to have more and more search traffic and despite Bing contributing a small section of your website’s aggregate traffic, it is relevant and, that means, it has a high possibility of generating sales.
- It has been on the market for quite a while and recent reports show Bing’s stake in the search engine market is increasing faster than Google’s.
- Even though the Google Search Console shares similar features with Bing Web Master, a few of them are specific to Bing. For example, Bing Webmaster Tools are able to access Yahoo data, which Google cannot.
Keep in mind, your number one source of organic traffic will be Google and Bing will be second. You should focus on both Google and Bing if you want to increase traffic to your site.
Keep a Tab on Page Speed
You need to check on your page speed before hitting that launch button. Page speed refers to the time it takes a page display its entire content.
It is a fact your visitors want to browse a website that loads fast. Google shares similar sentiments and that’s why Google checks how fast a site is loading to determine its rank.
In the event your web pages are slow to load, Google’s spiders will crawl just a few pages. Having web pages that load quickly will improve your rankings and will also generate more sales.
Page speed can be improved significantly by
- optimizing your images
- enabling compression
- reducing redirects
- using browsing caching
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free resource by Google to check page speed. For best results on search engines, you should try to achieve a score of 80 or above.
Improve the Quality of Your Pages
You should ensure your pages are well designed to be accessible by search engines. They will not rank if they are of poor quality.
Scan through your site by the use of an SEO tool to ensure:
- Your pages don’t have any misplaced “noindex, disallow, and nofollow” tags. Failure to do so will ensure those pages and links are not indexed, crawled, and followed. All your web pages should be accessible to search engine spiders.
- Your web pages have unique content only. Google won’t punish you for plagiarized content but it won’t applaud you either. You need to ensure none of your pages have plagiarized content. Use tools such as Grammarly or Copyscape to check for plagiarism.
- There are no pages with irrelevant content. Google favors content that will offer real value to your visitors.
Once you have all these boxes checked, it’s time to hit that big launch button.
Submit a Sitemap to Google Search Console
The best way to make sure your website is accessible on search engines, like Google, is to create a sitemap. By creating a sitemap, you’ll be able to determine the structure for how your website is crawled by search engines. It’s easy to do and will immediately help a beginner website rank better in search.
Before we get into the steps involved in submitting a sitemap, let’s quickly go over why it’s useful.
A clear sitemap will be easily searchable and will provide users with more accurate search results from your site when they are inputting keywords or key phrases. This happens because search engines use sitemaps to point them in correct directions, helping users find relevant website content in line with their keyword or key phrase searches.
Now that we understand it’s importance, open up Google Search Console. In it, you’ll need to select the version of your domain you want to proceed with. Once you’ve done that, click the “CRAWL” section, which will, then, reveal a “SITEMAP” section. Click “SITEMAP.” Once you have, you can add a sitemap by clicking the “ADD/TEST SITEMAP” button, typing in sitemap.xml, and clicking submit. Refresh the page and you’ll find your sitemap has been added.
Front Load Keywords
Front load keywords in your post titles. By doing so, you’ll be able to rank better as the keywords will be the first words to appear in search. A lot of the pros already do this. This one simple SEO trick will dramatically help your content pages rank better, as keyword relevance is immediately displayed in the beginning of titles.
For example, if the post is about a “SEO Checklist,” you should write your titles like this:
You can see in these titles, the name of content comes first, followed by the company.
It was debunked you don’t need to include your main keyword phrase in your H1 titles. However, there’s a good reason to have an H1 title containing your main keyword phrase:
- Others will judge content they want to link by the title of articles
- By having your keyword in your H1 title, visitors know they are interacting with the right content
When others want to link to articles, they often read the title and scan the content. Therefore, if you want to increase the chances of getting your content linked with your target keyword, you should include it in your title.
By including your main keyword phrase in your title, those reading your content will be able to surmise the direction of the article, increasing the chances you will attract your intended visitors.
Google’s artificial intelligence isn’t at the level where it can understand what images mean without any associated description text. In the future, Google will be able to identify the sentiments behind images with visual sentiment analysis and classify them according to their sentiments. This will take away the need to include ALT tags descriptions altogether. However, for the time being, ALT tags are needed to give context to images.
Therefore, providing ALT tags to images on your website gives Google a better understanding of your images and helps to direct people who are looking for those or similar images.
As a bonus, you will have a new avenue by which users can find your site through associating your website to images.
Content Keyword Strategy
One of the most important aspects of SEO is keyword research. In order to effectively do it, you need to understand the basics. This section will break it down as simply as possible to all us newcomers. For those looking for an in-depth understanding of keyword research, see Digital Marketing: Keyword Research 101.
To quickly summarize, there are short and long-tail keywords that exist. Typically, short-tail keywords are more competitive and receive the most search volume; long-tail keywords are less competitive and receive the least search volume.
It’s, by far and large, easier to target long-tail keywords, as they are easier to rank for. They also have more purchasing intent.
Your job is to identify which ones will work best to attract traffic to you website. In order to find the best keywords to bring in that sweet, sweet traffic, you need a keyword research tool. The most common are Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush. However, none of these are free. You can get away with a free Google Keyword Planner account, however.
Using the Google Keyword Planner (GKP), you will find new keyword ideas similar to your phrase. You will also be looking primarily at keyword data by evaluating search volume, competition and click-through-rate (CTR). Find keywords that are relevant to your business, receive good traffic, aren’t competitive, and have decent CTR. These will be case by case. Compile all keywords that fit this criteria and pick a main keyword phrase.
The next step is to include main keyword phrases on each page or blog post of your website. Each page should be targeting a main keyword or keyword phrase. Once you determine each page’s main keyword phrase, you can add variations to boost visibility.
Most main keywords, relevant to your business, will bring your website traffic. However, covering all your bases is what will increase your traffic. By adding in keyword variations to your main keyword phrase, you will be able to cast a wider net to catch all potential searches.
For additional simple SEO hacks, use Google’s autocomplete “suggest,” in its search bar,
and its “searches related to” features to include additional keyword phrase variations for your pages.
Internal & External Links
In your website’s framework, you should be linking internally from one page to another. A popular strategy is to link your blog posts from one to another.
The reasons behind linking something like your blog content is it helps strengthen those keywords internally for those pages. This means search engine crawlers can navigate through your website easier and make linked keyword articles more noticeable to Google, so the article page is more relevant for that specific keyword.
When linking external, make sure you are linking to external resources that have good authority. These links will tell Google you are referencing relevant sources for your information.
With that said, always try to provide the most value to your users. If there’s a lower ranking authority site that provides better content, opt for the better content. Providing value to your visitors is far more important an objective than linking to high authority sites. This is because fulfilling search intent is the most important aspect search engines try to facilitate.
Understanding good SEO is easy: always think value first.
Google introduced a new Mobile-First-Index last year. In a nutshell, mobile-first indexing means Google will use mobile versions of web pages for indexing and ranking instead of desktop versions.
Those who have “mobile-friendly” or responsive websites will be ranked higher in search as Google is trying to reach it’s primary, mobile audience.
If your website isn’t mobile optimized, it should be. There’s no getting around it. If you’re unsure whether or not your website is mobile-friendly, you can test it to find out.
We understand search engine optimization is a hard topic to understand. Try to incorporate as many of the above tips as you can but don’t stress out if you can’t. Do what you can do in the meantime and gradually come back and work on it. For that reason, here’s a simple SEO checklist for beginners that covers the basics.
Now you have some actionable tips to improve you SEO, start putting them into practice. If that sounds like too much work for the time being, Bookmark optimize your SEO and provides you with cutting edge analytics that can help get your website noticed.