Another part of my job is to train Digital Marketing Account Executives all over the country, on how to sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services and website re-designs.
Because most of what I teach my clients is repetitive, I decided to write this quick checklist to help you determine if you either need help from an SEO expert or if it’s your website that’s killing your SEO.
Is your website responsive?
A responsive website adjusts to the size of the user’s web browser. If the user is using a mobile device, the site will adapt to that screen size, also a tablet, desktop, large tablet.
The website needs to be mobile-friendly since more than 60 percent of people use smartphones as their number one way to access the internet.
If your site isn’t responsive, then it’s time for an upgrade. After Google rolled out its recent “mobile-first” algorithm change, it has become near impossible for any new site to win relevant searches.
Keywords are not a technical SEO element. Instead, they are within your control and so are therefore an on-page SEO factor.
If your biggest SEO issues stem from a lack of keyword know-how, you may not need a new website and can benefit from careful keyword planning.
After you developed a keyword planning strategy, make sure that you use your keywords properly by adding them to the following areas:
- Page titles (look at the tab on the top of the current page, yeah that’s the page title)
- Headings (content should be separated using headings and subheadings)
- Content (is your content about the keywords?)
- Links (keywords should link to other relevant pages ON and OFF your site)
- Image descriptions and Alt text (don’t use text in images) use your keywords in image captions, descriptions and alternative text.
- URL’s – the URL of your web pages should contain your SEO keywords as it relates to your page. If you are using a content management system (CMS) and notice your URLs look something like http://yoursitename.com/?p=2, then it needs to be adjusted to something a little more friendly like http://yoursitename.com/seo-targeted-keywords
Make sure your target keywords are creative enough to withstand the fierce competition of the search world.
If you are unsure whether or not your keywords are driving clicks and conversions, you need to pick up the phone and call an SEO expert.
By the way, I’ve cleaned plenty of messes made by so SEO experts, so do you due diligence or you could be losing a ton of money and wasted time.
Are you actively adding relevant, engaging and valuable content to your website at least once per 350 words per week? If not, get started adding content to your site and include the SEO keywords that you’re trying to win search for as the subjects of the blog articles.
Be sure to link (when it makes sense) to other blog articles on your site to help give each page “juice.”
Run your website through this analyzer, if it fails it’s because your site is too slow. Google will not allow you to win a search if your page doesn’t load quick enough and users are much more likely to click the dreaded back button even if your page should be good enough to win a search.
I realize that’s developer mumbo-jumbo, but it’s important when trying to keep your pages moving quick.
Also if your website was built on the content management system (CMS) WordPress, I highly recommend using a good hosting provider like WP Engine.
An XML Sitemap is a file created by your website that tells Google when you’ve updated or added new content to your site. XML Sitemaps are important to help Google know of a change to your site in real time.
If you don’t have an XML sitemap, Google will eventually get to your site, but it could take weeks and sometimes months before its next visit to your website.
404 Error pages
Have you ever clicked on a link and was taken to a broken 404 error page? These pages should be built-in a way to assist a user.
When Google ranks a page, it will stay in its index unless a redirected.
If another page has replaced a page, an SEO like myself will usually use a 301 redirect, however, if a redirect is not possible or a page no longer exists, a 404 page can help a user find other information on your website that it might find useful. Consider these 404 error page best practices.
Social Media Accounts
Having your social media account integrated with your site will help users (and Google) trust you. Users will be able to check and see if you are real or a phony. If a user comes across an inactive social media account, they will know that your business is no longer active.
It’s important to keep your social media accounts as up to date as possible. Also, make sure you share your weekly blog posts across all social media accounts.
Look at the footer of your website. Does it say what you do and your Designated Market Area (DMA)? If not be sure to include + your target SEO keywords. The footer should appear on all pages of your website and therefore quickly help you improve your local search.
Many other factors go into your on-page SEO efforts. However, familiarize yourself with the above before scheduling a consultation with your SEO. These are just a few things he/she will look at first. If all is good, your SEO should be able to get into some more advanced SEO techniques that should help you rank above your competition.
To sum it up, make sure your website:
- Keywords used effectively
- Has an active blog (updated regularly) that adds value to your readers
- XML sitemap is working
- Taking advantage of 404 pages
- Active on Social Media and linked to your website
- Localized footer.
If your website does not have one or more of these, it’s time for a site redesign.
In the market for a new website? Make sure it’s powered by WordPress and built by an honest developer.