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Website SEO Starter Checklist

SEO
12 mins read
11th Mar 2322th Feb 24

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the improvement of your website's ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs) on Google, Bing and others alike. Google is the main dominant player and is responsible for roughly 90% of global website traffic. So for the purpose of this blog i'll be referencing Google SEO; however don't forget about getting indexed on other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo - they use much of the same ranking signals but there are also some vast differences.

At the highest level of abstraction, you could arguably summarise the implementation of SEO into two main categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Fairly self explanatory by nature, but on-page SEO is everything you optimise on your website, and off-page SEO is everything you can manipulate off your website.

The Importance of SEO

In the age of digital marketing there's a myriad of avenues you can use to increase traffic to your website, but they can get quite pricey. Search Engine Optimisation is by nature an organic source of traffic which just needs some nurturing - much akin to your social media presence. Ensuring that you have multiple sources of traffic is vital to longevity and growth, if you've settled on just one source of traffic then things can get quite messy if this source disappears or makes some drastic updates.

Being omnipresent is a key factor to marketing growth. If you're everywhere then by osmosis your traffic will increase, your brand will also appear more authoritative in the eye of the consumer from cross platform recognition. I think it's also fair to say that whilst some of us don't use social media, we probably all use a search engine; so when you consider that Google is responsible for over 90% of global website traffic, why would you not want to improve your ranking?

SEO Checklist

Unfortunately SEO is not a quick fix nor is the solution static. Search engine providers such as Google use algorithms to determine what results to serve up to you in a SERP, and these algorithms are being updated either hundreds or thousands of times per year. Most of these will be minor and unnoticeable, but amongst all the changes there are always some main principles to always adhere by when it comes to ranking higher (and staying there). Here's a few:

  • Tell search engines to crawl and index your website: Basically, Google and other search engines discovers new web pages by crawling the web, they then adds those pages to their index. Crawling can take days, weeks, or even months! Actually, it's possible it might not even happen. Alas, there is a tool by which you can prompt Google to speed the process up called Google Search Console. By logging into here, you can submit a sitemap (that your website developer should have made for you) which will queue your website for Google to crawl. For Bing, a similar tool is called Bing Webmaster.
  • Make your website accessible: Proper web development should enable accessibility for all users, including those with sensory impairment, so that they are able to digest the content and navigate around. People who are visually impaired will commonly be using a screen reader to assist them with navigating a website whilst anyone with colour blindness may struggle to read text if the background contrast is poor. There are many other disabilities and limitations to take into consideration such as: cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, and hearing loss. This is a major signal for all search engines and without a doubt every website owner should ensure they have accessible code in their website.
  • Ensure your website is mobile friendly: Studies are now frequently reporting that more than 50% of global website traffic is accounted for by mobile devices. Search engines like Google know this, so if your website isn't optimized for mobile devices then you're in for trouble with your SEO from the get-go. The main goal of all search engines is to show you the most relevant search results so that you find answers for the query you're searching for in the smallest amount of time. This way, it's more likely that you'll use it again. So if your website doesn't work properly on more than 50% of their searchers devices you can expect them not to favour you in the rankings.
  • Enable fast load times: Based on industry standards your web pages should completely load in 2 seconds or under - lower than 3 is crucial. If they do, it'll help to improve your search rankings. There are a myriad of things which can have a derogatory impact on your site loading speed, including but not limited to: issues with your integrated CMS (Content Management System), numerous high quality images with large file sizes, or code that is written poorly. If you're curious, there is a super helpful tool you can use to check the loading speed of your website called Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Make sure your website is secure: Ensuring you have an SSL certificate on your site is a biggie. Google considers HTTPS encryption to be a significant ranking signal, it will also display a security warning in search results that will deter people from clicking on your result.
  • Optimise technical SEO: In order to improve the technical SEO of your website, you need to consider things such as: 404 pages for broken or mistyped links, tag canonicalization, semantic HTML, 301 redirects and avoiding duplicate content. Most CMS platforms such as BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix already figure this out for you in their pre-built templates - but not everything. If your website is custom built by a developer then it's important to ensure their work is tip-top.
  • Do your keyword research: Keywords are just words or phrases that someone would type into a search engine to find something - basically a query. All areas of your website such as site copy, site titles, meta descriptions and image captions should contain your keywords in a natural way. Keyword stuffing is considered a black-hat SEO technique which Google and other search engines will punish you for. A fantastic way to find out what queries people are searching for when they click on your website in a SERP is by configuring your website with the brilliant tool Google Analytics. Within here you can see exactly that and many, many other useful tools. It's a pretty amazing piece of software, and you should already have this installed as part of a solid marketing strategy.
  • Build powerful backlinks: Backlinks are a key component of off-page SEO. Backlinks are just links that point to your website - from another website. When the Google crawler bot notices this backlink it will rank the backlink's validity based on the domain authority of the website who is pointing the link to your website. For example, a site like facebook.com, nike.com, or washingpost.com would have a considerably higher domain authority than a brand new eCommerce store that sells a niche product. Once you build a plethora of good quality backlinks from websites with a high domain authority you can almost certainly expect improvements in your SEO rankings.

Prepare To Be Found

The first thing you should be doing as a website owner is ensuring that your website is up to scratch. It's pointless to spend money or time on improving your SEO if the website you have doesn't convert or the bounce rate is high.

Here at Dotcreo Digital, we curate awe-inspiring websites that are designed to keep your traffic engaged and drive conversions. They're also readily crawled by all major search engines, responsive, accessible, HTTPS secure, and rich in on-page SEO - so the basics are already done for you. If you'd like to talk about working together then I've got 60 minutes for you right here.

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Author: Samuel King
Full Stack DeveloperDesignerMarketer
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