Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) into your website involves many different techniques and strategies. In order to improve your organic traffic and position in search results it can be helpful to know what to focus on first. Whether you are creating a new website or editing your current site, here are 10 things you need to do for SEO success.
1. Google Analytics
In order to measure website traffic, it is necessary to setup Google Analytics for your site. Google Analytics allows you to see changes in traffic, user behavior, demographics, and more. Google Analytics will provide a tracking code that you will add to your website, which measures your traffic and other data.
2. Google Search Console
Keep an eye on search queries, crawl errors, index status, spam, and more by adding your website to Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools). This free tool allows you to monitor your site’s presence in Google Search results and how users see your site.
3. Screaming Frog
Before you begin implementing any changes to your website for SEO, it is important to save your current website’s SEO success by using a website crawler such as Screaming Frog. This tool will crawl your current website’s URLs, analyze page titles and metas, discover duplicate content, and more. Save this data into an Excel spreadsheet, so once you start making changes to your website you can always look back at your old data and compare. The tool is free and is another great SEO tool to have on hand.
4. Keyword Research
Understanding your customer’s demands are important when doing your keyword research. In order to rank for the right keywords, you need to think about what your client is searching for and develop a keyword list off that. Google Keyword Planner is a great tool to use that allows you to see the search volume for your keywords, and it also provides other keyword phrases that might be worth targeting. In addition, you will want to pick 1-3 keywords per page and really focus on incorporating those keywords into your page title, meta description, and body copy.
5. Page Titles and Meta Description
Each page on your website has its own unique page title and meta description. Page titles should be between 60-70 characters and meta descriptions between 150-160 characters. Both should include at least one of the keywords that you chose for your page, and your company name should be included at the end of the page title tag on each page. If your website is set up through WordPress, download the Yoast SEO plugin that can help you optimize both of these.
6. Page Speed
How fast your site loads is not only important for user experience, but also for your website ranking. Search engines penalize websites that are slow to load because pages with a longer load time usually have higher bounce rates and users spend less time on a page. There are multiple factors that can lower your page speed such as large images, your host name, widgets, embedded media, and more. Find out your website’s page speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
7. Mobile Friendly
Recently, Google announced that they will now look to see if a website is mobile-friendly to determine ranking in search results. Not only does your site have to be mobile-friendly, but also mobile-responsive. More people are using their mobile devices to access and search the internet, and when they come across a site that is not mobile-friendly they tend to exit the site, which can hurt your click-through-rate. Find out if your website is mobile-friendly by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
8. Create an XML Sitemap
A sitemap improves the crawling of your site and provides valuable metadata associated with the pages in your sitemap. It lists the organization of your site content and all of the pages, which then tells search engines information about each specific page. If you use WordPress, you can download the XML sitemap plugin that will create a sitemap, which then can be placed into Google Search Console.
9. Create a Robots.txt File
A robots.txt file allows you to give instructions about your site to web robots by indicating parts of your site that you don’t want accessed by search engine crawlers. Robots.txt files are mostly used for non-image files, image files, and resource files. However, improper usage of the robots.txt file can hurt your ranking and it is important to understand robots.txt limitations. You can create and submit your robots.txt file in Google Search Console.
10. Link Building
An important factor that many companies forget to incorporate into their SEO strategy is building high-quality links. Link building is the process of gaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own site, but more importantly you want quality websites linking to your site. Google ranks websites with more high-quality links higher in search results. In addition, you should also be linking to other internal pages on your site, as well as other company websites. Learn more about link building and how to reach out to other webmasters by clicking here.
Many SEO techniques come into play when trying to rank out in major search engines. While you don’t necessarily have to incorporate all of the above tactics at once, it is important to continuously monitor and try to improve your rankings overtime.