Back to Basics: On-Site SEO Checklist
By Allison Howen, Associate Editor
Thanks to always-changing search engine algorithms and stiff competition, search engine optimization (SEO) is a never-ending task for successful Web professionals.
For help keeping up, take a look at Website Magazine's back-to-basics SEO checklist below, which outlines the fundamentals of what it takes to improve your site's rankings (regardless of industry or size):
✓ Check Sitemaps
Using Google Webmaster Tools, SEOs can check their sitemaps to identify issues with their website, including crawling errors that may be a sign of broken links.
Discover three broken link discovery tools at wsm.co/findbroke.
✓ Remove Badlinks
Since Google's 2012 Penguin update, many websites have been penalized for "bad" or "spammy" links, which results in lower rankings and perceived authority. After other tactics have been exhausted to eliminate these links, brands can use Google's disavow tool.
Explained more at wsm.co/notwithme.
✓ Take a Look at Title Tags
Titles describe what a page is about to search engines and consumers, which is why it is important that they contain relevant and informative keywords. What's more, SEOs can look at the HTML suggestions page in Search Console to view missing or potentially problematic title tags on their site.
✓ Manage Meta Descriptions
SEOs should ensure that every page on their site has its own meta description (which appear in search results below the title tag); they can check for pages that are missing descriptions on the HTML suggestions page in Search Console.
✓ Improve Site Speed
Fast sites deliver a good user experience and that's exactly what the search engines are committed to providing.
Learn how to speed up your site at wsm.co/speedsix.
✓ Leverage ALT Image Tags
Not only are descriptive image file names important, but so is the ALT image text; both image file names and ALT image text help search engines identify the content of an image so it can be displayed for relevant searches.
Learn more about optimizing images for SEO at wsm.co/seopic.
✓ Remove Duplicate Content
Google penalizes duplicate content as it is often used to manipulate search rankings. SEOs can avoid penalties by monitoring instances of similar content and using Search Console to instruct Google how to index pages with similar content (e.g., canonicalization).
✓ Examine Analytics
SEOs should look to their own analytics to see what type of content is driving the most traffic - over the long- and short-term. This data will provide insights that can help businesses optimize future content strategies for better search rankings and increased traffic.
✓ Link Internally
Having an internal linking strategy not only helps businesses increase time-on-site and page-view metrics, but also helps create a hierarchy that shows the search engines which pages on a site are the most important.
✓ Ensure Mobile Friendliness
It's been more than a year since "Mobilegeddon" went into effect and if a site is not mobile friendly it is definitely being ranked lower on the SERPs.