More than 90% of purchases begin with a search engine, making SEO one of the most powerful digital marketing strategies available to small, medium, and enterprise businesses. If your website isn't appearing for search terms that users are typing to find businesses like yours, you're leaving a lot of money on the table. If this sounds like your website, then use our SEO checklist as a guide to increase the performance of your website for driving traffic from keyword-related searches.
#1- Is your target keyword in the H1 tags?
The H1 tag gives search engines a summary of what is contained on your web page. Most CMSs (WordPress is an example) will automatically tag the title of your pages and blog posts with H1 tags. Placing your keyword within these tags tells search engines that it's an important description of what your content is about. One of the first areas of keyword optimization is to use your exact keyword within your title and wrap the title in H1 tags.
#2- Is your keyword in the URL?
The URL is another way to communicate to both users and search engines about what a page is about. Using your keyword within the URL is one of the top on-page tactics that go without saying. Make sure the slug of your URL doesn't exceed more than 5 words and try to limit your URL to 90 characters. Short URLs tend to rank higher than longer ones.
#3- Place your target keyword a few times within your content
The keyword you want your page to rank for should appear in the first paragraph, or at least within the first 100 words. Depending on the length of your content, you may need to sprinkle in your keyword a few times-which should occur naturally. This leads us to the next part of the SEO checklist...
#4- Avoid keyword stuffing
This practice is basically when a keyword is repeated within the body of your text an unnatural amount of times. Historically, this was a tactic that was used to manipulate ranking since the more times your keyword appeared, the more search engines believed it to be relevant to a keyword search. Make no mistake, THIS TACTIC DOES NOT WORK.
In fact, keyword stuffing is considered to trigger an over-optimization penalty (which is really a filter baked into the algorithm). If you overoptimize your content, it can harm your search visibility. If you reduce the keyword optimization, you can reverse the effect of the "penalty."
#5- Use your target keyword in the meta description
Google has officially stated that it doesn't count the meta description as a ranking factor, but best practices indicate that using your keyword in your meta can increase your click-through rate.
#6- Use your keyword in the alternative description tag of your images
Always fill out the alt tags on your images so you communicate to search engines what the image is about. Use your keyword in the alt tags to optimize your page for your target term. Don't keyword stuff or you run the risk of over-optimization. Image alt tags will also make your website more accessible to those who are visually impaired. When an image fails to load, the description in the alt tag is what is displayed on most browsers.
#7- Optimize your content for search intent
To be the number one search result, your content needs to be the best answer to search intent. Search intent (also called user intent), refers to the true underlying motivation of a user performing a search. If your website has the ability to completely answer search intent, it has the ability to become the final destination of a search query-since users do not need to click further.
When you're targeting a specific search term, you need to run a competitive analysis on the top 10 organic results. Part of your research should uncover similar topics that are shared among all 10 search results. Make sure that your content covers each topic and subtopic so that you meet and exceed the level of quality of every page in the top 10 results.
#8- Use Schema to communicate better with search engines
Schema.org is a language that was invented by the top search engines Google, Yandex, Yahoo, and Bing. The goal was to create a universal language between all search engines to define "entities" online. The use of Schema helps to define exactly what your page is about and provides search engines with more context.
The successful implementation of Schema is known to increase click-through rates and improve search visibility for related keywords and phrases.
#9- Use structured data markup up to appear for rich results
Rich results are anything on the search engine result page that isn't a blue link. They are like they sound, _enriched search results_. Users are much more likely to click on a rich result because they attract more attention than the regular blue link.
An example of a rich result is a recipe that appears in the search results that shows the rating (out of five gold stars), an image of the recipe, prep time, and cook time. Other examples include markup that shows FAQs, How-to's, Q & A's, events. etc. You can find a list of the different types of rich results available through structured data mark up on Google's Developer page titled: Explore the Search Gallery [https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/search-gallery]
#10- Use link building to fuel your authority and increase your ranking ability
Backlinks are one of the most powerful ranking signals you can use to fuel the authority and search visibility of your website. By linking from high-authority websites within your niche-or a close vertical, you can increase the ranking ability of your pages and the overall authority of your website.
Links can be considered as votes of credibility. If you can get more high-quality websites to link to your content than your competition can, you can outrank them for any keyword-as long as your link building tactics are compliant to Google's Webmaster Guidelines [https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/guidelines/webmaster-guidelines].
Optimize, optimize, optimize....
SEO is not a one-and-done type of deal. You're never really finished optimizing your website since search engines are constantly changing and updating its algorithms. In fact, the team at Infectus Consulting is required to read a book every week in order to stay current on the latest digital marketing trends.
Make sure your website hits every point on this SEO checklist. If you don't have the time to spend continually optimizing your website or you just want a professional opinion, give us a call or send us a message to see what we can do for your business.