How your website ranks in major search engines plays a significant role in gaining potential clients for your business. It is then important to conduct a complete SEO audit and identify the obstacles that keep your site from reaching the top results or the opportunities to improve performance. Here are twenty (20) best practices to ensure that you’re meeting the top SEO requirements.
1. Check your tags. Rule of thumb is keyword-rich, not keyword-stuffed.
- Title. Create headlines with both search engines and visitors in mind. For search engines, consider appending the brand name. Limit title to 65 characters. For visitors, make it pleasing to the reader’s eyes.
- Meta description. Limit description to 160 characters. Opt for catchy, relevant and well-written words so it could influence click-through rates.
- Body tags. Add subheadings with H1 and H2 tags. Emphasize key terms – bold-faced, italicized and underlined.
- Run a quick test for duplicate tags through Google Webmaster Tools.
2. Optimize Content. When you write the content, take into account these factors:
- Unique, high-quality and relevant. Ensure that it has substance and is valuable to the reader.
- Fresh and current. Add a weblog and update regularly.
- Keyword-optimized. Important keywords should be placed on the first, middle and last paragraphs.
- Free of spelling and grammatical errors.
- At least 300 words.
- Maximized readability. Position the text blocks logically, i.e. column width and line height.
- Internal links correctly point to the destination page.
- Anchor text distributed evenly.
- Duplicate content detection via Copyscape.
3. Optimize Images.
- Apply alt tags.
- Place the image near the keyword in the paragraph.
- Double-check the codes. Include image width and height.
- Go for optimum size. Save images in lowest KB.
- Keyword-rich filenames. For instance, if a photo was taken during an SEO training held in Manila, assign seo-training-philippines.jpg as filename.
4. Optimize URL.
- Aim for short and user-friendly ones.
- Reduce characters to 115.
- Include relevant keywords.
- Employ subfolders instead of subdomains. Subfolder contains higher link juice compared to subdomain as the latter is treated as a unique domain.
- Apply hyphens for multiple worded URLs.
5. Design a good navigation structure.
- Design navigation menu both on the header and footer sections of your website.
- Add breadcrumbs for better usability and to make it search friendly.
- If you have sub-menus or categories, make sure that they land on the right pages.
- Try keywords or brand names as page names. Instead of a simple About Page, rename it to About Optimind Technology Solutions.
6. Submit an XML sitemap to Google. Follow recommended Sitemap Protocol so that your website will be indexed properly.
7. Remember robots.txt. Review thoroughly the entries that are accessible to web crawlers. Select a good Site Auditor to keep tabs on sitemaps and robots text files.
8. See your site with the eyes of a Spider. Search engine spiders or robots look at your pages differently in comparison with an ordinary reader. Know their do’s and don’ts. Perform a site crawl test using Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool.
10. Find crawling issues to assess visitor experience.
- Disable cookies on your browser settings.
11. Study HTTP status codes.
- Broken links. Redirect to correct URLs. Create a 404-not-found landing page with useful links. Run a broken link checker.
- Redirection. Use 301 HTTP redirects instead of 302 for greater link juice.
12. Handle canonical issues with care. This pertains to www versus the non-www versions of your website as well as links that have possible duplicate issues. This is especially helpful for e-commerce sites.
14. Always do a platform checkup. Make sure it’s properly setup, configured with correct settings and associated plugins. Optimize the templates. Consider SEOToaster as CMS.
16. Perform a regular website checkup for malware and spam. Try Site Advisor.
17. Install social sharing icons on every part of your website for easy sharing.
18. Analyze your backlinks.
- Assess their origin. The diversity of the links – is it a blog post link, article/press release link, directory link, comment/forum link, social media link; the authority of the site – is it reputable, what does Google think about the backlink site, what’s the site’s standing – Google Page Rank, Alexa, Domain Age; content relevancy – is it within the niche?
- Analyze your competitors. Which is your biggest competition? Where do they get their links?
- Track your keyword standing. Which keyword leads to the website the most?
- Utilize different tools when you conduct your analysis. Opt for SEOMoz Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO.
19. Improve local search visibility with Get Listed.
20. Be socially active. Connect your Google+ Brand page to your website’s blog to increase author rank.