Update: A whitepaper download will be available upon completion of Part 2.
Visibility in business is simply essential for success. Especially when it comes to SEO optimization and organic reach of potential customers in major search engines. How do you identify optimal visibility in search? What elements should you focus on to increase organic search penetration? What specific parameters do search engine robots pay close attention to when crawling pages of your website?
According to industry reports, over 70 percent of users click on SEO (organic) links in search. Inbound leads cost 61 percent less than outbound leads or also known as cold calling. In comparison, inbound leads have a 14.6 percent close rate while outbound leads (direct mail, print advertising, etc.) deliver 1.7 percent of leads. Surprised? Outbound lead generation requires more time, money, and resources to execute.
Now that we’ve solidified the potential behind inbound leads through SEO let’s focus on actual SEO optimization. Many companies to this day have a skewed perception of SEO optimization. So much that they choose to ignore the factors while creating a make-believe situation for personal satisfaction. I’m not trying to sound condescending by any means but precisely why decided to break out this article into two parts.
The Condensed SEO Optimization Checklist for Your Website (Part 1)
First, let’s tackle this from a quick overview perspective. These are the things that you should be focusing on weekly and bi-weekly basis to ensure that your site is fine tined. One of the essentials tasks consist of a weekly website crawl. If that is too frequent for your taste than a bi-weekly one will suffice. However, I would perform a full website domain crawl once a month at very minimum. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is an excellent resource to assist with this endeavor.
Other elements to focus on weekly or bi-weekly basis consist of the following:
Check Pages Indexation
- Perform a site:www.yourdomain.com and site:yourdomain.com operator searches on Google and Bing.
- Are the number of pages indexed on Google and Bing equivalent? If not, check Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for inconsistencies.
- Is the homepage showing up as the first organic results on Page 1 of each SERP? If not, check Google and Bing Webmaster Tools for a solution.
- Check Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for any manual penalties. If any are found, address accordingly based on search engine directives.
Review # of organic pages in Google Analytics
- Do the number of organic landing pages in Google Analytics match what Google and Bing show on a site:yourdomain.com and site:www.yourdomain.com operator search? If not, investigate further to determine the inconsistencies.
Brand/Branded Terms Search
- Perform searches on the different variations of your brand name and check for consistencies of brand representation. For example, if you’re the owner for Joe’s Italian Pizza than you might want to perform various searches around “Joe’s Pizza”, “Joe’s Pizzeria”, “Joe’s Italian Pizza”, or any other close relation.
- Are corresponding pages with the your domain coming up in the organic search results?
- Make any necessary changes or investigate further if certain inconsistencies arise.
Check for Caches Pages on Google
- Are key pages showing up properly?
- Are the navigation links intact with corresponding pages?
- Use http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://url.to-some.page.goes.here&strip=1 to find cached versions of key pages on www.yourdomain.com
Mobile search for key brand/branded terms
- Perform a site:www.yourdomain.com and site:yourdomain.com operator search on a mobile device using Google and Bing search engines.
- Check for page consistencies in comparison to desktop and monitor brand/branded terms instances.
- Do specific urls of the website have the Mobile-Friendly snippet appended next to each description?
- If there are missing Mobile-Friendly snippets next to key pages of website including main page then perhaps the site is missing out on mobile organic visits. Run www.yourdomain.com through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test for evaluation.
- Check robots.txt file structure at www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt. Are there any additional pages/folders that should be included or excluded for indexation?
- Review .htaccess file for any manual 301 redirects or adjustments needed. Most are handled internally but there might be additional ones here that the CMS is incapable of handling.
- Inspect sitemap.xml file at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. Ensure that only key pages for indexation on Google and Bing are listed here. Amend as necessary and based on priority.
- Have you ran a crawl on www.yourdomain.com to check for any 404s, 500s or other problematic issues? If not, run one each month at the very least.
- Have you ensured that any landing pages used for PPC endeavors are “noindex, nofollow”? Check article on Google to Launch New Algorithm for Doorway Pages Penalty for reference.
- Do goal completion pages (i.e. /thank-you/) include the “noindex, nofollow” meta tag? If not, have they been added to robots.txt file for exclusion?
As you can see, SEO optimization for your website can be extremely granular. We’ve barely scratched the surface though. The majority of essentials outlined in the condensed SEO optimization checklist are focused mainly on the technical side of things. One of the best ways that I believe SEO optimization can be explained in lieu to a website domain consists of the following areas:
- Frontend – everything that the user sees on the website when they navigate to www.yourdomain.com using a desktop, mobile, or tablet device. That includes context, typography, CTAs, UX/UI, navigation, and more. Anything that attributes to interaction.
- Backend – this includes the vast majority of elements outlined above in the condensed SEO optimization checklist (Part 1).
Feeling a bit lost or baffled? It’s a lot of information to digest. Stay tuned for the condensed SEO checklist (Part 2) article coming soon that will focus more on the contextual aspect of SEO optimization, UX/UI, mobility, and social integration.
Do you have any thoughts, comments, suggestions? I’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment below with your Facebook account.