Google wants you to keep this SEO checklist handy
As we enter the new fiscal year, if you’ve not started wondering what’s changed in the SEO space and what new things you need to be aware of, then it’s time to smell the coffee. If you’ve been interacting with me regularly, or even poking into some of the SEO blogs and news, it shouldn’t come as surprise to you that things change really fast in this industry.
Google keeps updating its search algorithms from time to time and you might think that it only does so to make things more complex for you. The fact is that Google gives you enough hints that you could easily pick up on, if you pay close attention.
Here’s an SEO checklist I have prepared for you that Google wants you to keep handy at all times but of course will not be upfront about it.
Unlike other SEO checklist blogs that you may find online, I have broken this one down into a step-by-step process. And I will explain it to you as if I were doing a practical implementation of the checklist for my business:
1) Focus more on Quality than Diversity.
No, I am not suggesting that you should not be diverse in terms of your online content. Of course, you need diversity there. But, what I am talking about is diversity in terms of quantity of pages on your website. Specifically true for the local businesses, the websites with localized pages and content seem to attract relatively superior traffic. And this also applies to conglomerates and enterprises. I am talking about higher quality traffic from search engines in general. But, as much as localized pages are important on your website, do not stuff it with countless and meaningless pages. Instead, narrow your website down to keep only extremely high quality web pages. The reason behind that is that if Google sees your website pages as low quality and not necessary for your audience, then it will not index those pages in order to save up on the resources as it has millions of pages to index otherwise.
Ask yourself this question: Am I getting quality traffic from all the pages of my website? If the answer is no for some of the pages, then ask another question: Why am I burning up my resources after these pages?
My suggestion, therefore, is that you should narrow your website down as much as you can. If any page doesn’t add value to your website’s content, and more importantly to your user’s experience on your website, then you don’t need it. It’s just not worth it! Make sure that each page on your website is of EXTREMELY high quality.
So, what are some examples of such low-quality pages on your website that you can easily get rid of?
- First off, look at your blog and remove all the outdated posts from there. If yours is an online shopping portal, dust off all the old product pages from your store.
- Another set of pages that unnecessarily take space on your website and also hurt the quality of traffic to your site are the archives. Just delete those (do ensure that you’ve had a pretty good look at them before you do so)!
- Also, like I mentioned above, if your site has thin content, Google won’t index those pages and it will hurt your ranking. So, remove all the thin content pages from your site.
- Something that I check on my website quite regularly is whether I have any old service pages that I can remove.
You’ll be surprised at how many pages you end up deleting from your website!! So, get started cleaning up your website and fixing the quality of your traffic.
2) Repair your website
Once you have removed the unnecessary pages from your website, it’s time to make sure that your website is perfect. For this, you need to run a detailed audit of your site and fix any and every issue that you may come across. If you look up SEO website audit checklist on Google, you will get a wide variety of tips and action points. And it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. So, to make it easy for you, I have created a shorted version of the SEO website audit checklist for you:
- a. Check your title tags
If you have already signed up on Google Search Console and have an account, you can very easily diagnose the missing or duplicate title tags on your website. Just navigate to Diagnostics and then click on “HTML Suggestions”. If Google’s search bots encountered any problem while reading the titles for your website pages, you will get to know about it here. The notice would read something like this:“When Googlebot crawled your site, it found some issues with your content. These issues won’t prevent your site from appearing in Google search results, but addressing them may help your site’s user experience and performance.”
So, you need to fix the duplicate and missing title tags on your site.
- b. Identify and fix the duplicate description tags
Again, you can look these up in Google Search Console. It is always important to have unique and original description tags for each of your website pages.
- c. Fix all the links that are broken
If Google bots come across a broken link on your site, they would just bounce bank, which in other words means that your website’s ranking will get adversely affected. On the other hand, if a user on your site comes across a broken link, he/she will most likely not return to your website in the future. So, stop chasing your visitors away from your site and fix all the broken links on your website.
- d. Check for missing image tags
It is important to have visual content on your website. Having a text-heavy website can hurt your site’s visibility in search rankings. Similarly, it is important to have appropriate tags for all the images on your website. Why? Firstly, because Google’s bots cannot see images like humans. So, if you want them to index the images on your website, you need to have alt tags. And secondly, if your visitors see the description for the images on your site, they consider your website to be more user-friendly and that, in turn, helps in improving your overall conversion rate. So, find out all the missing image tags and fix them.
- e. Check for page access through robots.txt
There may be many reasons if Google bots do not scan or index all pages on your website. Such as, pages with different domains than the domain of your main home page; pages unintentionally placed in the Blocks tab on the Options window in the Robot Exclusion Standard, etc. You need to check for such blocked pages and fix them at the earliest.
There are many tools to find out the issues with your website. We published a comprehensive list of digital marketing and SEO tools recently, which can give you a good headstart.
3) Prioritize your website’s pages for optimization.
Now, if you have a small website, then it is straight forward and quick task for you. But, imagine the dilemma of an ecommerce website’s owner, when it comes to on-page optimization. Such online portals have thousands of pages. So, how is it possible, and is it even practical, to optimize every single page on the website? NO, right?
The idea here is to handpick the top most pages of your website. These should be about 10-15 pages on an average. And put your maximum on-page optimization efforts behind these pages. Once you have identified these top pages for optimization, here is what you need to do:
- a) Make sure that all the URLs are SEO-friendly.
- b) Keep your keywords toward the start of your page titles.
- c) Combine your blog post title and H1 titles, if you are optimizing the blog pages on your website because they may be bringing you the utmost traffic.
- d) Keep your keywords within the first 50 to 100 words of your main content.
- e) Optimize your pages for both internal and outbound links, but these have to be strictly meaningful.
- f) Make sure that all the images have alt tags on these top pages.
- g) Enable social sharing on each of these pages.
- h) And then play around with the load speed for the page and also the responsiveness of the design.
Don’t limit yourself to only these points. Like I said, these can only give you a headstart. The more optimization you perform, the more is appreciated by your users and Google alike.
4) Focus on getting more click-throughs for each impression.
According to Google, a superior click-through rate helps in improving the search ranking quality of your website. It’s clear from these quote that Google uses your website’s click-through rate to determine where to rank it in its search results page, obviously also taking into consideration the relevance of your website and appropriateness of your content. You can do so in multiple ways:
- a) Spy on your competitor’s ads in Google AdWords and add those keywords and phrases in your website’s titles and meta descriptions.
- b) Strategically place action buttons on your website and keep them toward the first fold of your pages in order to increase the overall visibility and hence, the click through rate.
- c) Make your content action-oriented. Tell them what they are supposed to do after arriving on your site and reading your page content.
- d) Add visuals that trigger actions.
- e) Keep your blog posts’ titles extremely call-to-action-rich. This increases your site’s traffic insanely.
Once again, these are only a few suggestions. There is an ocean of possible ways to improve the organic click-through-rate of your website pages. Just keep an eye out for them and whenever you come across something that you can easily implement, don’t even wait for a second!
5) Tighten up your website’s bounce rate.
Just by increasing the click-through-rate of your site, you won’t cut it. You need to also ensure that your website doesn’t have a high bounce rate. A higher bounce rate on your site means to Google as if you don’t care at all about your users’ experiences on and around your site. And that automatically impacts your ranking negatively.
But, the trick about bringing down the bounce rate is not really trying to bring it down! Confused? Well, allow me to explain more. In other words, if you improve your users’ dwell time on your website, it automatically brings down your bounce rate. In more simple words, just make your website stickier. What Google really looks at is how happy are your users when they visit your website. And the best sign of their happiness and satisfaction is reflected through the time they spend on your site. The longer they dwell on your website, the high the satisfaction rate as seen by Google. Here are some ways to improve their dwelling time on your site:
- a) Add compelling call-to-actions wherever there are potential loop holes on your site, where your users may get bored. If they are likely to click the back button in the browser at any point in your site, that’s exactly where you need to place your action buttons and statements.
- b) Make your headings and subheadings extremely compelling to keep them interested at all times.
- c) Make your content benefit-driven. Don’t try to sell them. Just show them the benefit and they will want to stick around on your site for longer duration.
- d) Feel free to throw in numbers, quotes, pictures and videos to make your website more engaging.
The above list is by no means extensive. So, feel free to try your own ways to make your website more user-friendly and see your bounce rate go down.
So, this is a small and handy SEO checklist for you. Now, it’s your turn.
Got comments? Want to ask questions? Don’t agree with what I said?
Either way, do feel free to post a comment below.
And until the next time, have a great one!