SEO Checklist - 10 Steps to Successful SEO
Want to rank higher on search engines? Follow this 10 step SEO checklist and ensure you're on the right path.
1. Keyword Research and Selection
Keyword research and selection is the process of determining what keywords to target for a given site. For example, a website selling short-term apartment accommodation in Barcelona, Spain could target ‘holiday apartments Barcelona’, ‘Barcelona apartments’, ‘holiday let Barcelona’ or any one of a host of other permutations.
Working out what keywords, if targeted, might result in interested customers finding the site falls under ‘keyword research’.
Once the list of possible keywords is formed, there must be a decision to narrow the selection down to one or a number of keywords over the others, in order to be cost-effective. Among other things, this could be based on, for example, how often that keyword gets typed into search engines. Obviously, there’s less reason to target a keyword that is not searched for very often.
Another consideration is the popularity of that keyword in your industry. Targeting very popular keywords will give you a lot of competition, and it could take a lot of time and money to rise to the top.
Targeting a ’secondary’ keyword will mean limiting how successful your SEO can be (because the most popular terms are searched for the most), however it will also mean less competition from other businesses on that keyword, and therefore a higher ranking.
2. Competition Analysis
The SEO process is very competitive, because ever step up the rankings for a given keyword for one site means a step down for another, probably one with a very similar product.
Competition analysis is the process of examining one’s more successful competitors in order to determine how they have achieved their results, both in searches and overall.
This starts with a detailed examination of their site, and continues with the use of tools to analyze things such as the backlinks (i.e. links from other websites) that the site has. Having this information can greatly help to inform the marketing plan of your own site.
3. Site Structure
How a website is set up is an important factor in determining how search-friendly it is. What templates (if any) were used to create it, whether the URL is static or dynamic, internal navigation - all these things and more affect search rankings and need to be examined and possibly tweaked to improve results.
4. Content Optimization
It seems obvious, however the content of a website is crucial because (drum roll) it’s what people come to the site to find. If the content on a site turns them off, they will leave the site very quickly. If they like the content, they will stay and may spend. In addition to this, however, content affects search rankings.
Content optimization is the process of producing and modifying content to improve how well it ranks. Some brands use blog post optimization and other site techniques. It involves structuring pages so that they are as friendly as possible to search engine ’spiders’, while still providing information that humans will like.
10 step SEO checklist
5. Link Building
In SEO, links are king. How many other sites link to the target site is a crucial factor in determining how well it will rank. This reason for this is because sites that are linked to by a lot of other sites are, on average, more likely to be useful, trustworthy and liked than sites that are not linked to as much. So it makes sense for search engines to rank sites with more inbound links more highly.
Link building, then, is simply the process of getting more backlinks to the site, however this is done. This could include, for example, paying to have the site listed in a directory service, issuing a press release about the site, starting a blog about the company and inviting people to write on it, comment on the blogs of people who comment on your industry, and so on.
6. Social Media
Social media is things like forums, blogs, and message boards. Social media is used in SEO to get the word out about a site in communities that are most relevant to the product.
For example, a site selling a SaaS software product could use Facebook marketing techniques and post messages that mention the product, hoping to drive traffic to the site. This can be a useful tactic especially when the market for the product is overcrowded and the only meaningful search times are very popular.
‘PPC’ stands for Pay-Per-Click. A PPC advertising campaign involves placing advertisements with a search engine such as Google. The placer of the ad selects keywords that determine where the ads appear.
The ads then appear on web pages that contain the relevant keywords. The placing entity pays only for ‘click-troughs’ to the target site. PPC campaigns are used to simply to generate sales, and also for keyword research.
8. Statistics Analysis
Statistics analysis involves examining statistics from the site in order to look for ways to improve sales. Perhaps chief among the relevant statistics is examining the rate of ‘conversions’, in other words the how often someone visiting the site results in an actual sale.
There are a number of tools for gathering statistics about a site.
9. Conversion Optimization
Conversion optimization is simply, as the name suggests, the process of modifying a website to increase the rate at which visitors to the site actually become customers.
This often involves modifications such as structuring the layout and design of the website pages so that they are easy to read and understand.
10. Keeping It Up
This final step is simply the process of ensuring that good rankings and conversions are maintained.
This is important because the world of SEO is very dynamic and competitive, so there will almost always be competitors in the same industry seeking to increase their rankings for the same keywords.