Maximize Organic Search with This SEO Checklist
To have a successful SEO strategy, you have to improve and maintain your search engine rankings.
Google is constantly tweaking their search engine algorithm, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain steps you can take that will help you rank well in the SERPS regardless of what new updates Google releases.
Follow these SEO best practices, and you will see your site rise in the rankings and attain page one rankings with relative ease.
In doing so, your website will be one of the first viewed by your potential customers when they are using Google or other search engines.
1. Write to Topics not Keywords
Keyword stuffing has long been dead, but many people are still using keywords as the holy grail of on-page search engine optimization.
Today you want to write to topics and not keywords. Instead of focusing content around a set of keywords you want to focus on what people are searching for and then write to that.
For example, Red Widgets may be a keyword, but what people are searching for is How to Grow Red Widgets.
When you write to the latter, you’re able to naturally add a variety of exact match and semantic keywords to your article that allows search engines to rank your article, while also answering your readers’ questions on the topic. No keyword stuffing needed.
2. Focus on Technical SEO
If you want to improve your SEO without worrying about your copy, fixing your technical SEO is one area you can target for improvement.
Technical SEO focuses on SEO best practices that don’t have anything to do with your copy.
How fast your page loads, whether it is mobile friendly or if you have a working sitemap, are all factors in getting your website and articles ranking well in Google.
Here is an excellent article that details the many ways you can improve your technical SEO.
3. Add Keywords to Your URLs
Keywords in your URLs are a small ranking factor, but a ranking factor nonetheless. Keywords in your URL signal to Google that this post is topically relevant.
Many small SEO changes can lead to significant results. Adding your main keywords to your URLs when writing new articles is an easy way to get an extra SEO boost.
4. Get Your Titles Right
Writing a killer title is a powerful way to get readers to click on your article. Title tags are also the second most important on-page ranking factor after your content.
Your title is an easy way to add keywords to your content without being spammy.
Combining the two, a catchy title with relevant keywords will give you the best results for your readers and search engines.
If you’re unsure if your title is catchy enough, use this headline analyzer to see how well it grades.
5. Use Header Tags
Most people who click on your articles aren’t going to read it to the end; they are going to scan it.
Header tags are a great way to break your articles into topics that are easy for your readers to scan and process.
Header tags are also an important on-page ranking factor when it comes to SEO. Adding keywords to your H1-H6 tags will give your content an SEO boost without sounding like you’re writing for robots.
To keep with the Red Widget example, if you’re writing an article titled “How To Grow Red Widgets,” you can break the content down into sections such as Best Soil for Growing Red Widgets, Choosing the Right Red Widget Seeds and Best Time to Plant Red Widgets.
With the headers, you’re providing information your readers can easily scan to get their questions answered while signaling to the search engines your article is the authority on all things Red Widgets.
6. Add a Video
Content is the most important on-page ranking factor when it comes to SEO. You can use video content to increase your search engine rankings and benefit your readers at the same time.
A properly optimized YouTube video can add relevant keywords, increase the time users spend on site and add appropriate metadata for ranking purposes.
7. Use Those Alt Tags
Articles with images outperform those that don’t have images. But to get an SEO benefit from having images in your post, you need to add keywords to your alt tags.
Similar to URLs, alt tags are a place to add keywords that won’t turn your readers off and will please the search engines at the same time.
Use your main keywords to name your images as Google uses this text to determine the type of image you’ve posted as well as the topic of the surrounding text.
8. Create A Link Building Strategy
Link building is still an important part of SEO, and you should have a strategy in place for getting relevant, high-quality links back to your website.
Outside of creating excellent content readers wish to share, guest blogging, reaching out to websites in your vertical and broken link building are some more ways to get links back to your site.
When possible, utilize keywords as the anchor text for your links, however, don’t go overboard with exact match anchor text as it will lead to a penalty from Google.
9. Make Use of Meta Descriptions
Take the time to write compelling, keyword-rich meta descriptions. While meta descriptions aren’t a major ranking factor, they can offer a succinct description of a websites’ content and play a significant role in getting clicks from readers.
Some meta descriptions best practices include keeping your meta descriptions under 150 characters and using your target keywords in your text.
Since any words matching a user’s search question will be shown in your description, using keywords in the meta description increases the likelihood readers will click on your website.
10. Have an Internal Linking Strategy
Wikipedia ranks so well in the search engines due to their extensive internal linking structure. Using detailed, relevant anchor text assists Google in identifying exactly what the page being connected to is about.
To get the most out of your internal links, use anchor text that is a close variation of your target keywords on that page, instead of using generic expressions like click here or read more.
Also, internal linking is important because it increases your time on site and decreases your bounce rate. Both metrics act as important ranking factors as they signal whether your site is useful for readers once they’ve landed on your page from the search engines.
11. Write Long Keyword Rich Content
If you have multiple pages focusing on the same set of keywords, Google will have a difficult time figuring out which page matters most. Instead, combine all of those smaller pages into one long, comprehensive post on the subject.
Using the Red Widget example, instead of a series of posts on Red Widgets, write one large Red Widget Guide. The one guide, with all the many keyword variations, will make it easy for the search engines to determine it’s relevance and rank it accordingly.
These type of posts are known as cornerstone content and are an easy way to get page one rankings quickly and consistently.
Longer content has also been shown to rank better in the search engines, likely due to how topically relevant they tend to be because of the increased opportunities to use a variety of similar keywords.
12. Have a Social Media Strategy
Social signals are currently affecting Google SEO rankings, and numerous SEO specialists think social’s importance will continue to increase.
If you’re still not using social or using it as well as you could, now is the time to create a social strategy to aid in your search engine rankings.
The key to success with social media, however, is consistency. You need to post consistently for the strategy to work, so make sure you have a plan that is appropriate to the time and staff you have available.
13. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly Site
Google announced a mobile-friendly ranking algorithm that will have a substantial effect on search engine rankings.
About 50% of all searches conducted on Google are on mobile devices, so if you aren’t using a responsive theme or separate mobile site, you are missing out on an important ranking factor and could ultimately get your website penalized.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see if your site meets Google’s mobile-friendly standards, and, if necessary, what changes you need to make to get your site up to speed.
The above checklist is a powerful blueprint for increasing and maintaining your search engine rankings.
Be sure to follow the list each time you add a new article to your site and do regular checkups on areas such as site speed, and other technical SEO factors to make sure your site is free of errors that can impact its position in the SERPS.
Looking at the checklist how many of these ranking factors are you currently implementing on your site? Which of these ranking factors are you just learning about?