Wednesday, 20 May 2015

McCoyDesign Website Search Engine Optimisation Basic Checklist

IMPORTANT NOTICE - RESPONSIVE WEBSITES: Google are giving organic ranking priority to websites that are optimised for mobile devices, per Google’s official blog, when users arrive at websites that are not optimised for mobile devices (i.e. responsive; change format to suit different devices, from desktop, to tablet, to smart phones) it is not a positive experience and once the user has a bad experience it is claimed that more than 60% probably won’t visit that website again.

Mobile usage shows a very high growth projection, and as Google own AdWords, they want the user experience to be positive on mobile devices. FOR MORE INFO READ: "Google: Understanding the Mobile Consumer" and/or watch this Google video:

My SEO Checklist:

  1. Ensure your website responsive for smart phones or it will not receive organic ranking (this currently does not affect iPads or tablets).  Click here to test your site using Google's Mobile Friendly Test Page.
  2. !!ADD VIDEO CONTENT TO YOUR WEBSITE!! and link the videos to your own, branded, YouTube channel; interesting, relevant, informative, maybe even amusing video snippets. Tag your videos with searchable keywords. Google loves video - it owns YouTube! They give websites with video content priority, and you can be listed on both the main Google wall and the "videos" wall.
  3. Create your branded Google+ (Plus) page, along with your YouTube page. They are integrated by Google anyway as you only use a single login for both but make sure your branding is tailored on both. Ensure you add your website URL to the Google+ and YouTube listings/settings.
  4. Create a Google Places page (Map) or, if one already exists, ensure you claim ownership of it. Google currently automatically generate a Google+ page if you have a Google Places page so do not duplicate as there is currently no way to merge Google+ pages. Brand it, add your logo, images, keywords/tags, make sure you list your website URL. This will give you a better chance of Google actually showing your map/street location adjacent to your organic Google listing.

  5. Make each page 'meta title' relevant to the content of that specific page (this is the heading that appears at the top of the browser window and is listed by Google in searches). This gives you a better change of Google giving you an index of pages in organic searches. For example, "Assist A Sista Australia • News" "Assist A Sista Australia • Shop", and another "Assist A Sista Australia • Downloads", etc. presents like this (this is Google's prerogative, but setting this up correctly gives you a better chance):

  6. Make the 'meta description' succinct and relevant to each specific page content (not the same for every page of your site). This is the text that appears on the google search engine wall, under your page title heading, under the URL. This is the text that people read first before choosing to go on to your site, so it is really important!
  7. Include meta tag keywords on all pages and ensure those keywords are relevant and used throughout the text in your websiteAdding dozens of keywords is a waste of time, if they do not correlate to the content - Google will ignore them.
  8. Make all content highly relevant and customer focussed - IT'S ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMER AND WHAT YOU OFFER THEM! Incorporate all your keywords throughout the text.
  9. Use <h1> header tag for your key message. Use <h2> header tag for your secondary message Google apparently give keyword priority to h1/h2 tags.
  10. DO NOT use jpgs/png images for text headings or on slide show images. Use css formatted text that can be searched, indexed and referenced by Google. With the introduction of web fonts there is no need to create jpgs to retain brand integrity. You can use the fonts of your choice directly in your web design.
  11. Embed meta data (hidden information) into all images/photos/graphics, including heading, description, URL, email, keywords and copyright information. This enables your images to be searchable too, and they will appear in the Google "images" page and will link back through to your website.
  12. Add social media share icons with analytics so viewers can easily share your page - and you can view the demographics.
  13. Integrate your site with social media, such as incorporating a facebook like box, facebook and/or twitter live feeds (posts from your facebook wall/tweets appear on your website), etc.
  14. Integrate Google Analytics with your website so you can track incoming and outgoing links, know customer demographics, which pages are being viewed (and, more importantly, which aren't so you can tweak your website accordingly). Also add your social media links to your google analytics settings. Review your analytics data frequently to check/improve your site's keywords and content. DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO YOUR WEB DEVELOPER ALONE! As the business owner, you need to understand this data and use it to your advantage. Ensure you have full access to your analytics data with your own Google login and add key team members (with appropriate access level, i.e. they do not need to be able to make changes, just read the data). This data gives you valuable insights into your customer demographics, which you can utilise in your marketing strategy.
  15. Integrate Google Webmaster Tools this enables you to see any Google indexing issues.
  16. Submit an xml sitemap to the main search engines, especially Google. Re-submit when major changes are made, such as when pages are added or removed.
  17. Promote your website on other quality, high traffic websites that are relevant to your brand/service and assess/review incoming links via your analytics (i.e. paid advertising such as facebook ads, paid or free advertising on business directories), exchange links with your suppliers, customers, associates, etc.  Only list your website on relevant sites such as industry associations, your clients, suppliers, products/services you recommend etc., and with any paid links, keep a spreadsheet detailing your log in details, who, where, when, cost, renewal date, successful clicks/links, etc. Ensure they stay up-to-date, especially offers.*
  18. Google take up to 6 weeks to index a website. From experience (although they have denied it), if you pay for a short Google AdWords campaign, your site gets indexed with priority. One client needed to get their new website (new URL/new company) to be seen on the first page of a Google search ahead of a key business presentation, so we paid for a short term ad campaign, and their website stayed on the first page, organically after the advert stopped. Google Webmaster and Analytics integration, along with submitting an XML sitemap also appears to speed up indexing.
*Avoid pushy SEO companies who phone and email you endlessly - do your research before you sign up because there are a lot of dodgy ones. Ask who their clients are and check them out. I achieve great organic Google rankings for clients without ongoing paid advertising or using an SEO company but if you are in a highly competitive industry and feel the need, make sure they really know what they are doing. I had one client who paid $400 only to find their business had been listed/linked to hundreds of useless, irrelevant websites, with incorrect information, and we could not correct it or delete it because we did not have the login details for each of those listings. We had to search for and contact each company, claim business ownership and delete or update (if our analytics showed that the listing did give good incoming link stats).