This is a follow up to the previously published Condensed SEO Optimization Checklist (Part 1) article that I pushed out a little over a week ago. It received a highly unusual level of response which led me to believe that those of you out there found value in the information shared. Now that Mobilegeddon is in the rearview mirror SEO optimization has become even more imperative for digital marketing endeavors.
SEO is in reality a multi-faceted marketing channel and has been that way for a while now. The days of keyword and content stuffing are long gone. Rankings matter but only if they spark new opportunities and lead acquisition. In today’s modern business world SEO circumvents as a blanket around social media, content marketing, UX/UI, mobility, and other technical components. So, in essence requires a diverse skill set in order to respond adequately to the current high demands by consumers in search.
So, how do you remain competitive? Is your site optimized for desktop, mobile, and tablet devices? Are there any ingredients missing that may be prohibiting visibility and awareness in the marketplace?
All great questions that you may have asked yourself at one point or another. Let’s take a look at Part 2 of the condensed SEO optimization checklist and see what other areas you need to focus on.
Don’t forget The Condensed SEO Optimization Checklist (Part 1) before proceeding further.
The Condensed SEO Optimization Checklist for Your Website (Part 2)
Ok, so here are additional signals that we know of currently that Google particularly looks for when evaluating the overall quality and experience of your website. Keep in mind that Google specifically has one golden rule they’ve always followed – User satisfaction and superior interactive experience. With that being said here are the additional areas you need to dive into deeper when optimizing your website for optimal SEO success.
The following areas should be closely evaluated and updated on weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. No less than monthly though!
It has been said that On-Page optimization is the majority of SEO. Everything from aesthetics including visuals to content substance, headings, mobility, and accessibility.
- Is each title tag of individual pages on www.yourdomain.com properly optimized? Is it unique for each page? Does it contain the primary keyword(s) for enhanced contextual targeting?
- Is the brand name incorporated within each Title Tag respectively?
- Does each Title Tag meet the 55-60 character (512 pixels) limit max (including spaces)?
- Is the primary keyword for which you’re optimizing that particular page around positioned as far to the left as possible?
- Does each page on website contain a Meta Description tag?
- Does each Meta Description tag meet the 155-160 character limit (including spaces)?
- Is the primary and secondary keyword for which that page is being ranked incorporated within the Meta Description tag? Is it positioned as far to the left as possible for increased contextual targeting?
Additional Meta Data Inspections
- Have you checked all pages on www.yourdomain.com for proper Meta Data information (Title Tags and Description Tags)?
- Did you implement missing Title Tags and Description Tags with those corresponding pages?
- Does each topic align with content strategy? Will readers/personas care about it?
- Is this the proper format for set forth content?
- Is the flow of content in logical fashion? Are chapters/headers/points organized in an order that makes sense and naturally guides readers through the content?
- Are the titles of each article/post compelling and interesting enough to get people to click through and engage further with the article?
- Does the title accurately reflect the content within it? Is it sensational, exceptional, and emotional? Will it resonate with readers?
- Are the large chunks of text broken up with headers and paragraph breaks so it’s easier on the eyes? Can readers scan and easily skim through it?
- Is each header on an article interesting, compelling, and clearly interpreted?
- Are the important points/stats/ideas called out in bold to catch reader’s attention?
- Are there corresponding images and visuals included in each article where adequate for improved user interaction?
- Is the overall writing interesting, entertaining, and easy to read?
- Does each article tell an interesting story? After all, everyone loves a great story.
- Is the grammar and spelling in check? (There’s nothing more frustrating and unprofessional than an article that has not been proofread.)
- Does the intro capture the reader’s attention? Is it interesting enough to get the reader to keep reading?
- Does the content’s voice jive with the overall voice of the content and brand itself?
- Are there data, statistics, examples and quotations used to back up the points made in each article?
- Are there any supporting elements that could enhance the content? (e.g. SlideShare, Video, Image)
- Are there any internal or external links pointing to supportive resources, other landing pages, or blog articles?
- Does the content contain any sensitive or controversial information that requires specific approval? (e.g. Legal, PR, etc.)
- Were any of the stats included cited or specific quotes used (etc.) been verified?
- Is the article or blog post thoroughly researched?
- Do any of the articles or blog posts contain potentially harmful information that may impact company partners, stakeholders, audience, or company itself?
- Are there any mathematical calculations or formulas utilized within an article or a post? If so, was the arithmetic double-checked for accuracy?
- Does the overall content comply with company’s mission, philosophy, goals, etc.?
- Are there any missed opportunities that may prohibit relationship building opportunities with influencers, industry thought leaders, etc.?
Friends – content plays a factorial role in SEO optimization for your website. It is not the Holy Grail by any means but it does require serious consideration, creative thinking, and strategic implementation and execution.
Recently Google made an announcement advising its users that it will be making a change in the way it displays a URL within the SERPs using the breadcrumb trail. Therefore optimizing urls for individual page now plays an intricate component within SEO optimization for your website.
- Is each URL of the website properly optimized?
- Does it contain the primary keyword for which that page is being optimized around?
- Are old urls redirected properly to corresponding new pages using the 301 redirect method?
- Are there any excessive parameters within the url? If so, they should be stripped out.
- Is each url shorter than 115 characters for easy access and remembrance?
- Have you checked all other Best Practices for Clean URLs to cross-reference any other missing areas?
Site Architecture & Interlinking
- Is there a vertical link structure in place? See below for explanation.
- Do homepage links of website lead to category pages?
- Do main category pages links lead to sub-category pages?
- Do individual product pages link back to category pages for support?
- Is there a horizontal link structure in place? See below for explanation.
- Do category pages link to other relevant category pages?
- Do product pages link to other relevant product pages?
- Are there supportive links to internal pages of site within respective pages to assist with building an internal matrix? If not, review content and ensure supportive links to internal pages are incorporated accordingly.
- Have you checked the footer area structure based on the following criteria?
- Does the footer section of all pages include blocks of text or an actual navigation? It should use a replica of top navigation but in a condensed fashion focusing only on key areas of access.
- Do any of the links point to landing pages for PPC or pages that are highly optimized for SEO? If so, amend these to include only links to main navigation pages.
- Is there keyword-rich anchor text incorporated within each menu item that points to supportive pages?
- Are there any broken links that should be attended to immediately?
Technical SEO Elements
In the world of SEO there’s a significant amount of technical expertise involved. So much that it often creates a clash between an SEO specialist and the development team. Finding a middle ground can also be a little challenging but nonetheless a common obstacle within all companies. So, for this next part I would encourage that you seek the guidance of a web developer unless you plan on regaining sanity after a hectic debacle. Provide guidance based on the following criteria and determine the best approach for a collaborative solution.
Broken pages are a common reason for lost traffic on the web. There’s nothing more frustrating than stumbling across a broken page with no directive guiding your users to an alternate location. Having said that focus on implementing 301 redirect rules that would assist users when they encounter a broken link within a SERP. We all have a few of those in our closet, unfortunately.
- Are 301s used for all type of redirects on the website? Use them only where appropriate such as old page -> new page.
- Is the non-www version of https://yourdomain.com being redirected to the www version https://www.yourdomain.com using a 301 instead of 302 (Temporary Redirect)?
- Are there any bad redirects currently in place? Check below for criteria.
- Are there any 302 instances on the site? If so, amend to a 301 if necessary or remove 302 and let it default to 404 page by default if that particular page is not authoritative.
- Are there any 307 redirect instances? Check and amend to either a 302 or 301 if necessary.
- Is there any usage of Meta Refresh? If so, remove as it does not carry SEO value.
Additional Technical Elements
- Do any of the redirected URLs leverage a bypass? (Example: A redirected page passed through a bypass page and then to a destination)
- Are there an iframes currently utilized for content service? (i.e. content on pages is served using <iframe></iframe> HTML). This should be removed if so.
- Is there any usage of Flash elements? If so omit and supplement with jQuery or HTML5 technology replicating original effects.
- Have you checked Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for any errors? Adhere to them accordingly as suggested.
- Have you addressed any canonicalization problems? (i.e. 301s or “canonical” tag usage for duplicate page versions on the site). Check SEO best practices on why and how to establish proper canonical URLs.
- Are you using absolute urls vs. relative urls? If not, then amend where needed. This can create specific problems with HTTPS protocol and cause errors.
A while back Google introduced into the SEO mix the importance of site speeds as a ranking factor. Therefore sites on desktop, mobile, or tablet devices that are loading slower than average are bound to experience a downgrade from an SEO perspective. Google PageSpeed Insights is a great resource for assessing the site speed and performance of your domain. It also helps with pinpointing problematic areas requiring further attention.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the areas you should be addressing on regular basis:
- Is the main website and internal pages loading under 3 seconds? Use http://tools.pingdom.com or Google PageSpeed Insights to inspect this.
- Is compression enabled? This should be active at all times if disabled.
- Is browser caching enabled for faster loading of pages?
- Are all images optimized for the web? Do each contain an ALT and TITLE tag that is properly configured for enhanced contextual visibility? Check Google Guide to Image Optimization for other elements.
In the beginning of this article I wrote about Mobilegeddon and the importance of a succinct, intuitive, and interactive mobile experience. It has become so important to the point that Google now admits that nearly 60% of its traffic is coming from mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly website though is just the start. Refining the overall user experience, navigation, CTAs, clickable elements, and more are a whole another area of focus.
These are a few of the elements as we know Google particularly and other search engines take into consideration on the mobile side of things:
- Review the mobile experience on regular basis and cross-reference with data to establish an understanding of user interaction.
- Check for most visited pages and ensure targeted engagement using Google Analytics.
- Are there any faulty mobile redirects? If so, check Google and Bing Webmaster Tools for those and adjust accordingly.
SEL’s Mobilegeddon preparation article gets into the mobility aspect in further details. Be forewarned though that perusing through this article without extra dose of caffeine and patience may be detrimental. It is jam packed with useful information regarding the pros and cons of the mobile-friendly algorithm using a Q & A style.
SEO is a constantly changing discipline requiring time, money, and patience. It has proven though over the course of nearly a decade that if tactically approached it can yield business potential.
Get a refresh of your existing SEO endeavors and find out more about opportunities that your brand may be missing. Take advantage of a FREE 1-hour consultation with no strings attached to gain deeper insight into problematic areas of your website.