Every website owner’s goal is to climb the ranks on Google. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads are an good option to get traffic quickly, but if you wish to achieve steady traffic growth, SEO is mandatory.
However, there are plenty of SEO tips to consider and implement when it comes to your website optimization. You have both off-page and on-page SEO to think about, and it will genuinely shape your entire content strategy. If you haven’t acquired search engine optimization services from a professional yet, here’s a checklist of SEO basics to implement:
Website Building SEO
Most website owners don’t know that SEO optimization starts before you write or commission a single word of content for your website. The first step is to ensure that your website can be indexed and crawled by bots that determine where and how to rank the site. That falls under technical SEO and includes things like:
- Optimizing your XML sitemap – this provides a table of contents on your website for the search engines;
- Including a robots.txt file – it gives instructions to the search engines to which pages on your site they shouldn’t index;
- Sorting out your domains – making sure that your additional domain names redirect to your website via 301 instead of a 302 redirect or mirroring the site;
- Planning for your website structure – your URLs should match the pages and file structure of your website content;
- Creating the website to be mobile-friendly – a significant ranking factor after Google introduced mobile-first indexing introduced in July 2018;
- Making a custom 404 page – default browser error messages generally don’t have any useful information to the visitors, but a custom 404 page could give them any info you want;
- Having SSL – your website should be under an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) because Google Chrome users will be getting a warning that your site is “not secure” without one.
As you can see, there are plenty of SEO-related tasks to get done before your site even goes live. And when it does, there are certain things to look out for other than the content itself.
External or Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO tips are helpful because they also contribute to how the search engines view your website. Here, as well as in any other form of search engine optimization, there are a few things to look for:
- Links – the more your site is linked to by credible outside websites, the more authority your website accumulates;
- Local SEO – it’s always good to have a local listing, especially if your business has a brick-and-mortar store;
- Social media accounts – having social media accounts that properly lead to your website might not affect your ranking directly, but it will undoubtedly help traffic and improve your overall online presence.
A full SEO checklist is very helpful when you want to tackle SEO basics. In Part 2 of this checklist you can read all about content-related SEO, so stay tuned for that. And if you’re interested in search engine optimization services, contact me to discuss how I can help.
Rob Dunford is a Marketing Consultant in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years of experience in implementing marketing plans for small businesses.