Committing to SEO best practices is a critical component for any business looking to not only grow online, but remain highly competitive in its market. An effective SEO strategy can significantly help a website gain a higher search engine ranking that will elevate viewership and branding.
The continually-evolving SEO landscape requires persistent attentiveness to strategies and practices for prime optimization, which can be a daunting task. That’s why at WebiMax, we’ve compiled the following SEO checklist to add to our resources designed to help businesses start implementing an effective SEO strategy.
Create an XML Sitemap
Search engines such as Google need to “crawl” or index a website in order to interpret and rank the content of the site, and an XML sitemap helps them to better understand the information that they find. When a search engine crawls a website, an XML sitemap helps to ensure that the search bot sees every URL available there.
By creating an XML sitemap, it’s guaranteed that the engine picks up on the elements that are necessary for a high ranking, such as keywords, fresh content, and a page’s relevance in relation to other pages on the site. An XML sitemap can be generated using a variety of resource websites, such as http://xml-sitemaps.com/.
The process also involves setting up a Google Webmaster account from which the sitemap will be accessed. To see if your website has an XML Sitemap, you can plug in your website and receive a free SEO website analysis here.
Conduct Keyword Research
An effective SEO strategy also depends on thorough keyword research, which heavily determines the amount of desirable traffic to individual pages. A website with words and phrases that are seldom searched for will attract minimal viewership, while a site with optimized keywords that have been naturally integrated into the content will generate higher traffic.
To determine the proper keywords to include on a web page, first access a list of highly-searched keywords in the market, which can be found at a resource like Google’s Keyword Planner. Among those listed, only choose keywords that are truly relevant to the specific page.
Keep the value of “long-tail” keywords in mind, as well; these more specific keywords and phrases typically attract visitors that know exactly what they want and are ready to buy. Develop fresh content.
Optimize Meta Tags
Meta tag descriptions are a form of back-end coding that can help a search engine, like Google, determine a website’s relevance and, if done incorrectly, can actually be a hindrance. Meta tags briefly describe what can be found on a website in less than 150 characters (including spaces), and will ideally contain a relevant keyword.
It’s essential that a meta tag is an accurate description of what can be found on a site; if deemed inaccurate or poorly-written, the meta tag will likely be replaced by a far less engaging tag generated by the search engine. Meta tags should also be used to sell the company’s website!
Use language that will drive viewership and always feature a call to action.
Create a Qualified URL
Best SEO practices emphasize that hyphens should be utilized to separate words when necessary for easier reading, and avoid spacing, overuse of underscores, and a character length exceeding 2,048. Of equal importance is a URL’s description, which should be brief, relevant, and ideally include a ranked keyword.
Provide Content of the Right Length
Fresh content on a website is great for SEO, but if it’s too brief it may not be all that effective. The general recommendation is that each web page should have at least 250 words of quality content.
Anything less usually indicates that the writing isn’t that informative or beneficial to visitors, which can limit viewership and impact branding. Brief content also limits the ability of search engines to fully understand it and pick up on ranking keywords.
Web pages and blog posts have traditionally contained 300-500 words, but unless the content is too short (approximately less than 250 words), quality typically trumps quantity.