SEO would have to be the most confusing of all the digital marketing strategies to learn. There’s so much information out their it’s hard to decipher what’s important and what’s not. With only a limited number of hours in a day, you want to make sure your SEO efforts achieve the highest return.
In this article we are going to outline a start to finish guide to help prioritise your SEO efforts. This SEO Cheat Sheet starts off with the basics that you must cover on every page. Then we work through to the more advanced stuff that will help move your site through the rankings. It is important that your implement the basics on every page of the website to ensure the best results.
Please Note: this is not an in-depth guide and further research might be required to understand the concepts discussed.
1.) Website basics
Search engines want to ensure the best experience for their users. This means they might penalise a website that don’t provide a user-friendly experience. The first step is to ensure your website is up to scratch. Things to fix are:
- Page loading times: your website should load in under seven seconds. You can check your websites loading time here PageSpeed Insights.
- Mobile friendly: With more users searching the web using mobile phone you will have to ensure your website is mobile friendly. You can check if your site is mobile friendly at Google Mobile Friendly Test.
- Navigation: Your website must be easy to navigate, the best way to ensure this is with menus on every page, side menus and breadcrumbs.
- 404 errors: You must make sure there are no broken links on your website. An easy way to do this is with the check my links Google Chrome extension.
2.) Keyword Research
The first step to any SEO strategy is to undertake in-depth keyword research. It is not only important to find the keywords your potential customer is making, but the ones that have the highest search volumes and lowest competition.
During keyword research it’s important to be realistic; some words just aren’t worth trying to rank for. If several well-established blogs are ranking for the phrase you want, you’re better off trying to find other keywords with lower search volumes.
Keyword Research Checklist
- Use Google Keyword Planner get ideas and volumes for keywords.
- Assess level of competition for desired keywords.
- Look for keywords with high search volumes and low competition.
- Don’t forget about long tail keywords – keywords that contain more than 4 words.
3.) On Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to all measures that can be taken directly within the website to improve its position in the search rankings. Before you start link building and other SEO practices it is imperative all your on-page SEO is in check. Things to do include:
- Ensure keywords are in the SEO title and meta description.
- Use <h1> heading tags.
- Use structured data mark ups or data highlighter in Google Search Console.
- Use internal linking with anchor texts.
- Ensure keyword density is between 0.5% – 2%
- Optimise images by including a descriptive name and alt tag. Also, ensure images are compressed
- Add relevant outbound links to websites that are a similar niche to yours.
4.) Content Creation
Content creation is probably the most important factor of any SEO strategy. A lot of people get caught up in trying to build backlinks to their website. One of the best ways to gain backlinks from other websites is to create original, quality content that other websites want to link to. Remember other websites and blogs will want their articles to have outbound links too improve their SEO, so it’s important to create content they would want to link too.
SEO content creation check list:
- Write original, high quality content. It’s best to write articles that are more than 1,500 words.
- Write content around long-tail keywords.
- Be sure to use natural variations of the keywords e.g. if your keyword was ‘dog photo’ natural variations would be ‘dog pics’, ‘pics of dogs’ etc.
- Be sure to share you content through all your mediums such as social media, blogs and email.
Note: For every article you create you will have to do the above mentioned on-page SEO practices in step 3.
5.) Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to all measures that aren’t taken directly on the website to improve its position in the search rankings. When we talk about off-page SEO, most people are referring to building backlinks and in the case of local SEO, citations building.
When most people start backlink building they often are tempted to create spammy links from other sites. It is important to remember, its not the number of backlinks you have, it’s the reputation of the website the links are coming from. If you obtain a backlink from a highly reputable blog that focuses on your niche, it will have a far greater benefit than 1,000 spammy links from websites that don’t relate to your niche.
Off-page SEO checklist:
- To create citations, list your business on as many online directories as you can. You can find a list of online directories here.
- Guest blog for other websites and place a link within the guest blog. To find websites to guest blog on search your niche + guest blog/write for us. E.g. Accountant guest blog
- Subscribe to HARO (help a report out) and respond to pitches. With HARO you will receive 3 emails a day with a list of reporters reaching out for sources for their articles. Be sure to respond to the requests that relate to your business.