It's a common practice to make sure the design of the
page is great. The design alone doesn't work for website rankings.
Optimizing it for search will. Looks can take you far but you also need
optimization as well. Check out our SEO checklist and implement these as
standard practice and watch your rank climb on search result pages.
Who doesn't love checklists? We've compiled a list of items that are basic necessities that will help increase your website's ranking in search results. There are many good tools to use that are freely available. We've looked at the majority of them and came to the conclusion that even though you punch in a web address and you get results, it may not be as effective as running a manual check. Tools that provide scoring have different methods and you will often have to use a combination of a few different tools in order to complete an audit. With our downloadable checklist, we've been able to compile the list of the most important elements of search engine optimization.
In the tables below the "ranking" column is used to weigh the effectiveness of the element described. Here is the scoring valuation we used to rate each element:
1 = not important
2 = important
3 = very important
Elements of on-page optimization are things like keywords and content. Think of anything that is on the page. On-page goes more in-depth than just meta tags. Providing users with valuable quality content is key to on-page optimization success.
|Page title||1||Keep the page title from 50 to 70 characters.|
|Meta description||2||This should describe the page briefly. Keep it around 70 to 155 characters|
|URL||2||Keep the URL short and under 255 characters.|
|Image ALT text||2||This should describe the image as much as possible. Every image should have ALT text.|
|Keywords||3||Have high-quality content. Meta keywords are not used by Google, however, other search engines use them.|
Optimizing for off-page SEO is quite different than on-page. Off-page SEO consists of anything not on the website. We can think of this as social media and podcasts even email campaigns. The key to off-page optimization is these four aspects:
- Topic relevancy
- Search engine and user experience
|Social media||3||You should have relevant social media profiles according to your business.|
|Guest posts||1||Guest posting helps position yourself as an expert in the topic. This will eventually help build links.|
|Link building||2||Links to listing sites are important in building authority and trust. This is high-risk high-reward.|
|Public relations||3||By promoting a great story and publishing it, this method can drive traffic to the website.|
|Content marketing||3||Guest posting and media publishing is a great strategy for content marketing. Content marketing is also contributing to media outlets.|
|Brand building||3||This is the business's identity, marketing, and strategy and ultimately how the customer sees your business.|
Technical SEO refers to the elements that are on the server and configurable. Page speed is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO. We like to use Lighthouse for metric scoring and analysis.
|CSS Minification||2||Linked CSS files should be minified. For help on how to minify CSS, we created a web app for that.|
|Inline CSS||1||Inline CSS overrides all CSS for an HTML element. It's best not to inline your CSS.|
|Image Optimization||2||Images should be optimized for the web and be small in size ( <150kB )|
|Mobile Image Optimization||2||Images should be optimized for mobile and have a different aspect ratio.|
|Page Speed||3||Page speed is a critical performance metric that some search engines use to rank web pages. Concentrate on Total Block Time (TBT), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) in order to achieve the best results.|
Security components with the website have an impact on SEO.
|Using an SSL Certificate||2||Google ranks websites higher when using HTTPS vs HTTP.|
|HSTS Implemented||2||This is a secure channel from end-point to end-point.|
|Blacklisted site||2||Blacklisted sites are known to be associated with spam.|
|Crawling errors||2||Check your analytics often to make sure no crawl errors occur.|
|Outdated plugins||1||Plugins should be kept up to date.|
|Malicious bots||2||Check backlinks for malicious sites that have linked to your website.|
|Content Security Policy||2||Setup a CSP to only allow external links to come from certain websites.|
|Links to cross-origins||3||Use rel="noopener" or rel="noreferrer" on anchor tags.|
Websites should be built to be accessible to everyone. An accessible website follows 4 main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
|Breadcrumb links||2||Using breadcrumb links is a great way to increase user experience.|
|Image ALT text||1||This is a description of the image when the image doesn't load.|
|Anchor text||1||Describes what is being linked to a page.|
|Navigation||2||Helps users find their way around the site.|
|Buttons and links have names||2||Accessible names are required for screen readers.|
|Uses ARIA||2||ARIA is an assistive web technology that helps users with impairments.|
Final Thoughts on SEO
As more and more drag-n-drop builder applications are being created, SEO is sometimes pushed to the side. Most of the drag-n-drop builders are for designers that need an attractive-looking website. We aren't saying these automated drag-n-drop builders are bad—because they're not. Drag-n-drop builders allow non-developers to quickly build a website. In order for your website to get traffic, search engine optimization needs to happen. If you sell a product and have a e-commerce site, this could be devastating to your business. SEO should not be overlooked on any website and should be as much a part of the planning process as the design that goes into it.
For more information on what Google really looks for to help determine SEO and search engine ranking, review Google's own Search Quality Raters Guidelines. This guide is a bit long to read however it is a great tool to use.