SEO Checklist: 6 SEO Basics for Website Optimization in 2020
Search engine optimization is a necessity to drive traffic to your website, but for many website owners or business owners, it can be difficult to know where to start. Our simple SEO checklist covers the basics of SEO so that you can get started improving your website’s rankings.
There are various SEO strategies that you can pursue to rank your website in Google search, but for beginners an SEO checklist of 50 items can be overwhelming. If you’re just getting started and you want the fundamental, best SEO practices, use our website checklist to improve your site’s search engine performance.
Basic SEO Checklist:
If you are working on improving your website’s SEO via our SEO checklist, it’s important to track your progress. There are various metrics you can track to learn more about your website’s performance. One of the key variables to track for SEO purposes is your search engine rankings.
Tracking Google rankings is an essential first step for SEO. Starting with this step will allow you to see where your website is starting out so that you can track your progress moving forward.
What are Rankings?
By rankings, we mean where your website appears in the Google search results. A ranking of 1 through 10 means that your website page is on the first page of results for a given keyword.
Rankings are important to track because they will directly affect traffic and other performance metrics. Most search engine users do not click to the second page of search results, but find the answers they are looking for on the first page of Google. We like to say that if you want to hide a dead body, hide it on the second page of Google. No one looks there.
Search engine rankings are different for every keyword, and they change by location. For example, a search for “best bagels” may yield different results than “bagel shops”, and the results for “bagels near me” will change based on the location where you’re searching.
Why is it Important to Track Rankings?
It’s important to track rankings for your target keywords so that you know where your website stands. You may think that your website is performing well, but if you don’t know where you appear in search results then you may be losing out on traffic that could bring potential customers and sales.
Simply put, if you’re not tracking rankings then you are not tracking your website’s performance as it relates to SEO. Checking in on your rankings helps you understand how your website stands up to the competition as well as how any changes you make affects your performance.
How To Track Your Website’s Rankings
Tracking your website’s search rankings is easy. There are various rank tracking tools that offer different, useful features to assess website performance.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are free tools offered by Google to analyze your website’s performance. GSC provides ranking data, although it’s common to use other tools as well. We recommend a free Google Search Console and Analytics account to anyone with a website, especially if you’re working to improve your SEO. Other, paid tools offer more data, however.
One of our other favorite rank trackers is SE Ranking. This tool also allows you to track your competitors, so you can see how you perform compared to the competition. It has a host of other features as well, like keyword tagging, deep metrics, auditing tools and more. If you check out SE Ranking, use our code SEODIGITALGROUP to get 15% off your purchase.
Google My Business Setup
Optimizing your Google My Business listing is an essential – and easy – way to improve your website’s search rankings. Since Google owns Google My Business listings, this is a vital ranking factor for the most popular search engine.
Once you have a rank tracker set up, optimizing your GMB listing is the next basic step to jumpstart your website’s SEO.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a feature on Google’s search engine that helps businesses manage their online presence on Google. This tool allows businesses to update Google with their information like phone number, address, hours of operation, and other important information. If you’ve ever searched for a business online, you likely saw their GMB listing on the right side panel of the Google SERP.
If you own a business, you can manage your Google My Business listing to verify your business and edit any information as needed. GMB also lists Google Reviews, so you can use this platform to interact with customers and find feedback from their experiences.
Why is Google My Business Important for SEO?
Google My Business is vital to your search engine optimization for a few reasons. First of all, it’s one of the most important citations for your business. If Google doesn’t know your business’ general information, it may doubt the legitimacy of your business and keep your website out of search rankings as a result.
Completing your GMB listing is also important for local SEO purposes. When you search for local businesses on Google, the first thing you’ll see are ads, then Google’s local 3 pack, and then the organic search results. A complete Google My Business profile makes it possible for your business to appear on Google Maps results, and makes it possible for your business to be listed in the 3-pack map results for local searches.
Google My Business also makes it easier for anyone searching on the internet to find your business’ general information. If someone Googles your business’ name, a complete GMB listing on the side panel can provide them with quick information like your website URL, address, phone number, hours, and reviews. This makes it easier for potential customers to find the information they need about your business.
Google My Business also makes it easy for people to find reviews, and for you to respond to those reviews. This makes GMB a reputation management tool as well.
How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
To verify and manage your business’ Google My Business listing, you’ll have to create or sign into a Google account. If a listing already exists for your business, you can request ownership by clicking “Own this business?” on the existing GMB listing. If someone else has ownership of the listing, you can request access or report an issue to Google with recovering your business’ account.
If your business does not have a GMB listing already, you can create one by clicking “Add my business to Google” on the Google My Business creation page. You can also search for your business here if you are unsure whether or not a listing already exists.
Once you add your business to Google, click through Google’s steps to add information about your business to the listing. Be sure to add your street address, business category, delivery information (if relevant), and contact details including your website URL. To complete your GMB profile, you must verify your account via phone, email, or through Google Search Console.
If you’re having trouble optimizing your Google My Business listing, or if you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, contact us at SEO Digital Group. Our team of SEO experts is happy to help you cross this off of your SEO checklist.
One of the easiest ways to improve your SEO is to make sure your website business is listed in online business directories. In the world of SEO, these business listings are called citations. Local citations are important to help your business rank in your geographic area.
What are Citations?
A citation is an online business listing that includes the business’ name, address, and phone number. It can also list your website address and additional information, but a complete citation only needs to include those three pieces of information.
There are various types of citations where you can list your business across the internet. Some citations are more important than others, and different places to list your business information depending on your type of business. Hundreds of websites list SEO citations for businesses.
When you’re just getting started, general citations are a good way to ensure that your business is listed online. Some of the most important business listings include Facebook, Yelp, and Google Maps, but there are plenty of other websites where you can list local and general citations.
Why are Citations Important for SEO?
Citations are important for local SEO, and they build trust with Google.
Having your business listed in online directories tells Google that your business is real and that it is located in a specific area, making it easier for people searching in your area to find your business. If trusted business directories list your business information, then Google sees that as a sign that your business is legitimate and trustworthy.
Citations also improve SEO and online traffic because they may send referral traffic to your website. If your business is listed on a Yelp list of local businesses, readers who check Yelp are more likely to learn about your business and potentially visit your website or become a customer. Having your business listed in directories improves your online presence across the web, and helps to build trust with Google.
How To Get SEO Citations
Writing your own citations is easy enough – it’s usually just name, address, and phone number, after all. Citations have a better effect in bulk, however, so there are hundreds of websites where your business listing should be added. Doing this manually is a tedious process, especially if you don’t know where to start or what sites to look for.
Luckily, there are affordable online services that can list your citations for you. This will help you get general and local citations for your business quickly and easily, rather than manually submitting your business info to each individual website.
We recommend The Hoth’s citation building service – they’ll make sure that your business is listed in all the right places. The Hoth performs a citation audit to learn which, if any, business directories your company is listed in. From there, they can tell which business listings are correct, which are incorrect, and which citations you are missing out on based on your location and competitors. The Hoth can build your citations for you at an affordable rate, so you can quickly improve your search engine optimization.
The Hoth also offers a citation cleanup service, where they clean up any citations that are inaccurate. It’s important that your business listing shares the same information across every site so that Google knows the information is correct and consistent.
Social media is huge for online marketing, and it affects your website’s SEO as well. It’s essential to have all of your social profiles filled out with accurate, up-to-date information and links back to your website.
What are Social Profiles?
Social profiles are just that – social media accounts for your business on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and many, many more. Social media marketing should already be a part of your digital marketing strategy, but social profiles can also boost your SEO efforts.
Why are Social Profiles Important for SEO?
There are many benefits of social media marketing, but having completely filled out social profiles on all the major social media channels is also beneficial to your website’s SEO. Ideally, when someone searches for your business’ name, you can dominate the entire first page with listings for your website and all of your social media accounts. This way, no one steals traffic when users search for your business.
Social media is also helpful for SEO because it broadens your audience and reach, and it can drive traffic back to your website. The experts at Google claim that social shares are not an SEO ranking factor, but there is a direct correlation between shares, likes, and social media followers and improved rankings on Google search.
This is likely correlation and not causation – a brand with lots of followers and social shares is more likely to be a trusted brand on search engines as well. An active social media marketing plan can still improve SEO, however, by driving more visitors to your website and improving your overall web presence and visibility.
How to Optimize Social Profiles
To get the most out of your business’ social media accounts, it’s important to optimize them. To do this, there are a few things you need to consider:
Completeness: Are your social profiles fully filled out and completed? This means different things depending on the social channel you’re optimizing, but it generally means that you have a profile name, profile picture, description or bio, and posts on the account. Be sure to include a link to your website, and your full business listing information.
The more information you add to your social profiles, the better. Certain social networks have room for more information, so feel free to add more to some like Facebook and less on sites like Instagram where the bio has a limited number of characters.
Branding: The easier it is for online visitors to recognize your brand, the better. It’s possible that another business across the country could have the same name as yours, so it’s important that customers can easily identify your brand.
Make sure that your social profiles show clear and consistent branding. One important area for branding is your profile picture – if you have a logo for your business, it’s best to use this so that you are easily identifiable. Ensure that any other images or information on the page also reflects your brand image and values.
Updates: To get the most out of your social profiles, update them regularly with content. Share news about your business, blog posts from your website, deals, and more. Developing a social media strategy is a separate endeavor from SEO, but having a good social presence will only help your search engine performance by improving referral traffic to your website.
If optimizing all of the many social media networks out there is too much work, you can get professionals to do the work for you. The Hoth offers Lock My Brand services, in which they help to secure your brand name on social media sites that you don’t have profiles for already.
This service includes full profile completion, so you can rest easy knowing that all of your social profiles are filled out with the latest information and proper branding. The Hoth’s service is quick, professional, and affordably priced, so that you can check social media off of your SEO checklist and continue working to improve your web presence.
Once your social profiles are set up properly, you can use social media management tools to streamline your marketing efforts on social networking sites.
Press releases are a classic SEO tactic that can provide a boost to your website’s performance. They are easy to produce, cheap, effective, and a safe way to improve SEO.
What is a Press Release?
A press release, in the simplest form, is a short news story about a business that is typically written by a public relations professional and shared with the media. Press releases often share news about your business, important upcoming events or information, or other promotional information.
If you are launching a new product, announcing a new service or expansion, or sharing any other big news about your business, a press release is a great way to draw online attention to your announcement while also improving SEO.
How Do Press Releases Improve SEO?
Press releases are a great way to improve your site’s search engine optimization without taking any risks. There are a few potential benefits to submitting a press release, including high authority link opportunities, referral traffic, and brand visibility and improved brand recognition.
When you submit a press release, the goal is that it will get picked up by news sites for publication. Many online publishers simply re-share press releases, but there’s also a chance that an online news outlet could take the information from your press release and turn it into a blog post on the topic, a news article, or another piece of content. In both cases, this creates backlinks for your website, which are fundamental to SEO.
Getting these natural links pointing towards your site will improve its search engine performance and increase your site’s authority.
Press releases are also useful because they may lead referral traffic towards your site, and traffic is a direct ranking factor. Since publishers are sharing your press release, there’s a chance that their readers may click through to your website. Getting more traffic will only lead to better rankings and more traffic in the future.
Finally, sharing press releases can improve your brand’s online visibility. Sharing newsworthy information may improve brand awareness and recognition, even if readers only see your brand name in the headline without reading more. Brand visibility is not a concrete ranking factor, but it’s an important consideration for your marketing efforts.
How To Create and Share Press Releases for SEO
It’s easy to write your own press release if you have a skilled writer on your team. From there, however, you need to syndicate your press release to various news distribution channels so that it can be picked up and published on various sites to create backlinks, referral traffic, and increase its reach.
There are various online services that can handle your press release needs, from creation to syndication. We recommend The Hoth’s HOTHPress service; the team at the Hoth will write a high quality press release for you on a topic of your choosing and then share it to the proper channels to ensure maximum exposure and to add to your backlink profile.
If you prefer to write the press release yourself, the Hoth can also assist in distribution only so that you can save some money on the content curation and still take advantage of their media connections. The Hoth is a well trusted resource, so this service is sure to improve your SEO.
Another great press release service is through SEO Butler. SEO Butler’s content writing services are some of the best, and they can write and share your press release with all of the best news channels, including Google news. SEO Butler offers competitive pricing on their press release services and quality is guaranteed.
Landing Page Audits
So far, we’ve covered some essentials of off-page SEO. The content of your website is also extremely important to its performance, however, and any on-page SEO checklist should begin with a website audit and audits of your most important landing pages.
What are Landing Page Audits?
A landing page is a page on your website where visitors land after clicking a link or search result listing. These are standalone pages meant to provide information about your business, sell your products, collect lead information, or perform some other kind of function on your website.
Landing pages should each target a unique keyword or set of keywords. If two landing pages are competing for the same keyword, keyword cannibalization occurs, and neither page is likely to perform well in Google search results. There should only be one landing page for each target keyword. For many businesses, this means one page for each specific service offering or service location.
A landing page audit is the process of analyzing your landing page and making changes to improve its performance on search engines. SEO professionals can often look at a landing page and know what changes need to be made without the use of tools, but there are also plenty of SEO audit tools available that can offer recommendations to improve a landing page’s performance for its target keyword.
Why Are Landing Page Audits Important for SEO?
Landing page audits are an essential way to improve your website’s on-page SEO. If your website’s pages are not performing well or driving traffic for their targeted keywords, an audit can help improve the page’s ranking so that more potential customers can find your website.
Auditing your landing pages improves your on-page SEO. Typically, an on-page audit looks at factors like the page title and subheadings, the number of words on the page, any images, videos, or links on the page, and the content itself. These are all factors that affect search ranking, so improving these factors can directly improve your site’s SEO performance.
How To Audit Landing Pages
SEO experts can often look at a page and know what needs to be changed to improve ranking factors. If you enlist the help of an experienced SEO agency, they can help improve your on-page optimization.
There are also auditing tools that anyone can use, regardless of their SEO experience.
One of our favorite page auditing tools is SEO Surfer. This tool compares your landing page to competitors’ pages that are outranking yours for the target keyword. From there, Surfer offers recommendations to improve your page ranking. This tool is easy to use and provides both simple and complex insights that will help your landing page rank for its target keyword.
Check out SEO Surfer or other SEO auditing tools to audit your landing page content.
Use This SEO Checklist to Cover the Basics
SEO is an ever-changing, complex field. Even the most experienced SEOs learn new practices and strategies every day, and the best SEO practices are always evolving. Use this basic SEO checklist to cover the fundamentals of SEO and set your website up for success.
For more information about digital marketing, check out our blog or contact us at SEO Digital Group.