Optimize Your Website with this SEO Checklist

Search Engine Optimization Checklist

When it comes to our websites we all have the same goal, to be easily found and have first page rankings on Google. While this goal is constant the way to achieve this does change. Digital Giants has developed a checklist to help you optimize your website for search engine performance and achieve those goals.

Below are the areas to optimize and the tools you can use to get your pages ranking on Google.

Selecting the Right Keywords

Your keyword strategy should work in tandem with your website strategy. This will help set up the right pages for the keywords you want to rank for. Your website should be built for the keywords you choose. This is because the primary keyword will be your page’s title. Once you have your site laid out and built you will need to select your keywords to go into the copy. Determining the correct keywords for a website is an important step of SEO. It is important that these keywords match the content on the page. You will discover many choices for keywords but some will be better than others. The best keywords will have the largest amount of search volume while staying relevant to the page’s content. Keyword selection requires balancing relevance, search volume, and competition. Web sites with high domain authority that compete for the same keyword as you will most likely outrank you on search engines. In some cases it will be very difficult to rank for these terms and choosing another primary keyword is often the best choice.

The reason a website should be built with the keyword strategy in mind is that each page on a website has a primary keyword. This Keyword is used in the page title, the Headers, as well as in the meta description (without stuffing). This will help search engines recognize what the page’s content is about. In addition to the primary keyword, secondary keywords will also be chosen to help the page’s performance. These will be related phrases and terms that users may use in their search.

On-page Optimization

Page Title

The page title is a major part of ranking on Google. This is one of the first places Google looks at to determine if the webpage is relevant to the users’ search. The page title should include the primary keyword for the page. Page titles will often include the organization name in addition to the title. For example, the title for this page will be “SEO Blog | Digital Giants”

H tags

HTML headings are used to structure the page and its content. There are six headings H1 – H6 that can be used. Webpages should only have one H1 heading on the page while there can be multiple H2 – H6 headings. These headings help search engines identify the content that is on the page. Although they are required on a page, having HTML headings implemented correctly will give it a slight boost in ranking on Google. Using this post for an example again the H1 is “Search Engine Optimization Checklist”

Alternative Text

One of the areas often missed is the alternative text for images. Google images use this text to determine what the image is showing the user. When uploading images to the site there is an alt text box that allows for us to add a short description about the photo. This is so Google can identify what the image is of. If there was a picture of a dog with a ball, the alt text could be “ Dog with ball”. If it is possible adding keywords here is always a good idea but do not stuff them, these descriptions should be short.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are one of the more important parts of a page’s SEO. Although they are no longer a factor in terms of ranking they are what the users and Google will be reading to determine if the page content is relevant to the search. It is important for every page to have a meta description and there should be no duplicate meta descriptions on the site. The length for meta descriptions is under 160 characters. If they are longer than this they will be cut off and the message may not be delivered to the user. Meta descriptions are often referred to as free advertising on SERP ( search engine results page). Having a unique description is recommended, but this is only helpful when it appears on the SERP. Meta descriptions are best when they describe what is on the page.

Internal page links

Internal links are links that go from one page to another on the SAME domain. These help with user navigation and can help to keep users on the site. When using internal links on a site they help establish a hierarchy of information and help the user along their journey. Internal links also help with page ranking as pages that are connected via link spread their ranking power and help search engines determine the relevance of their content. If used in the copy, the internal link anchor text ( the text used to link) should be a keyword that matches the content on the page it is redirecting to. If the link is an image, the alt text used for the image will be the anchor text.

Backlinks

Like internal links, backlinks are links that redirect the user to another page. The difference is that these links are off-site and redirect users to our website. Backlinks are often found on review sites, directories, and vendor websites. Backlinks can be acquired a few different ways:

  • Naturally, This is done by sites who link to your website from theirs
  • Manually, this is done by reaching out to bloggers or paying for backlinks on a site
  • Self-created, this is done through posting on forums, blog comments, and user profiles

These help with your page ranking as it shows Google that other sites are recommending your content. The influence level of a particular website is dependent on the Trust Score and Domain Authority they have. As these websites provide links they pass on some of their Domain Authority. When websites with a high domain authority shared a link to another website it shows Google that the smaller website has relevant content.

Tools to Use

Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool available through Adwords which allows users to research search terms based on related terms or using a web page URL. This is a useful tool to identify keywords to use. Keyword Planner provides a list of keywords with their competition level and competitive bid amounts ( for Adwords). By conducting multiple searches using Keyword Planner users can export the results and compile a keyword list.

This is an example of what Keyword Planner will show when using the search term “ SEO Checklist”.