Basic SEO checklist for dummies
After creating a website for your business and setting up a blog and social media presence, many think they are ‘done’. People will just magically find them online.
No, my dear naive friend. Not so fast! If you want people to find you online, you’re going to have to get your head around SEO. No two ways about it.
To take the fuss out of what can be a highly complex topic, we’ve created a checklist for you to tick off.
Why is SEO so vital to a business?
Have you ever Googled your own products/services? Try Googling yourself as a regular customer might. If you’re a hairdresser, type in something like ‘hairdresser Melbourne’, or ‘best hairdresser’, or ‘best blow dry’ etc.
What do you see? How many keywords do you rank for?
It’s a well-known fact that if you aren’t on the first page of Google (top 10) then you might as well not exist as far as the internet goes. Of course, if someone knows who you are or search a location, you have a much higher visibility, but you need to capture the widest audience possible.
1) Get some basic SEO tools
If you want to be found and create on point content targeted towards the right keywords, a few SEO tools are vital.
You will find that many of these tools will integrate as plugins to your WordPress (or other CMS) software. Examples include SEM Rush and Yoast.
What you need SEO tools for:
- Keyword research to determine what terms you should be targeting.
- How to construct good SEO based written content (such as blogs and webpages).
- To see what you’re currently ranking for.
- Evaluating how and where you can improve your SEO efforts.
- To help you target easily achieved keywords over very popular and hard to rank for keywords.
2) Create keyword focused content
A keyword is the business-affiliated search term that you’ll be targeting to gain search results.
As Reckon’s resident SEO expert, Ivan Esposito notes,
“Keyword focused content will be the very cornerstone of your SEO efforts.”
Keywords are basically broken down into primary and secondary. You should have one primary keyword per webpage and secondary ‘related’ keywords will be derived from this primary keyword and help populate the content.
Use your SEO tools to determine what keywords to focus on with each piece of content (such as a blog) or webpage.
Keep in mind that your keywords are often what we call ‘longtail’ instead of single terms.
This means that you may target ‘best plumber Adelaide’ or ‘fix tap Adelaide’ as opposed to just ‘plumber’.
You’ll often have much better success targeting more niche and specific longtail keywords over highly competitive single words.
Hot tip: Don’t keyword stuff. This means that you should integrate your primary and secondary keywords naturally and without excessive repetition. Google will know you’re doing this and you won’t rank well.
3) Create well-structured content
An SEO writing tool (within your SEO software) will help dramatically here. Plug your content in and it will provide suggestions to make your content structure and keyword inclusions even better.
Keep in mind that your headings and subheadings are deemed more important than paragraph text, so be sure to structure your content with relevant headings and don’t just create large chunks of text.
4) Be original
This is important. Even if your keyword focused content isn’t perfect, make it unique!
There’s a simple reason for this – Google hates duplication and plagiarism. If you copy and paste sections of text or your webpages too closely match an existing competitor, you’ll be penalised.
You must avoid this penalisation at all costs.
Google has evolved its algorithm to the point where natural and unique copy will always outrank unoriginal, highly similar content. They need to know you are the authority on a topic or service, and that comes from originality.
5) Answer Googled questions
One of the primary uses of Google is to answer common questions.
If you Google a question yourself, you’ll find at the top of the page something called a ‘featured snippet’.
A snippet (or SERP) is usually a section of text from an article or webpage that Google deems has best answered the question, and that it comes from a reputable source.
You want to be that snippet.
Since snippets come at the top, before other results, and don’t require the user to leave the results page, they are highly sought after by businesses and marketers.
Even if you don’t win the snippet, the effort you put into achieving this goal will naturally boost your SEO anyway, so go for it!
How to get a featured snippet
- Fist, identify which page you want to optimise for.
- Use your SEO tool, such as SEMRush, to identify relevant keywords to target
- Search this keyword in Google and see what the current snippet is – what question does it answer? What format is it in (bullet points or paragraphs etc.)? Is it correct? Take notes.
- Now use these findings to edit your own content.
- Be sure your page both asks and answers the question – this will help dramatically.
- Keep your copy tight and simple and make good use of headings and subheadings to better structure your page content. Even better if you can make the question a heading itself.
6) Optimise your website for SEO
Once you’ve designated keywords to your web pages and have created original and well-structured copy, you should look to optimise your website to get even better results.
a) Internal and external linking
You should also be linking relevant keywords to other internal pages. If you have copy on one page that says ‘call us’. Be sure to link that text to your contact page for example. Perhaps a topic arises that you speak about in another page – link to it.
This is also true of external links. Link out to dominant and reputable websites that have relevant content pertaining to the topic you’re linking from.
b) Meta descriptions and page titles
Creating quality and relevant ‘meta descriptions’ and ‘page titles’ for your pages is a must.
These will form the snapshot of your content when people Google you and will be pivotal as to whether someone clicks or not.
In WordPress for example, you’ll see ‘SEO title’ and ‘misdescription’ fields for you pages. Fill these in with concise descriptions that include your targeted keywords.
c) Improve site speed and optimise images
Do whatever you can to remove features that slow your website down – a fast site is favourable to Google. This includes making sure your images and videos are web optimised and have alt texts included (which tell Google what the image is about).
7) Try to get backlinks
This is an often-laborious endeavour but it’s one of the most effective ways to boost your SEO.
You can use your SEO tools to identify backlink opportunities for your pages by discovering ‘gaps’ you should fill.
You basically want to entice well ranked and high ‘domain authority’ sites to link to you. There are many ways to do this but providing free content or partnership opportunities is a prime avenue.
It’s a lot, but if you put some effort into your SEO, your Google rankings will improve, your visitations will go up and you’ll have more eyeballs looking your way. Sales should follow!
For more tips to quickly improve your marketing efforts, download our free guide ‘5 low budget marketing hacks’.