Last Updated on September 18, 2021 by scottkandh
In this post of Holisitic SEO Wrap Up for new bloggers I try to bring all the elements together to highlight some of the salient points from the other blog posts into one cohesive post and this will be the final post for the blog series on mastering keyword research. This is the eleventh article I’ve written about mastering keyword research strategy. In the previous posts I wrote about:
- A Keyword Research Glossary for Bloggers – please use this to look up any terms that I haven’t covered in this post. I’ve also added this content to the bottom of the post.
- Need more Traffic Focus on using a Holistic SEO Approach
- The importance of using a Holistic SEO approach
- How to improve your SEO score with Keyword Research
- Keyword Research Strategy to defining your blog’s mission and USPs
- Keyword Research – How to make Conversions
- Using Content in your Keyword Research
- Examining Keyword Research to Optimize your website
- The Basics of proven best Keyword Research
- How to do Keyword Research for SEO
This post contains affiliate links, I’ll make a commission at no
extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase.
Since the bulk of this blog post is going to be mainly about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I also wrote a post called SEO Tutorial and Checklist items for WordPress Blogs. I’ll pull some of the information that’s in that post here to the applicable areas. My overall goal in this post is to have a one-stop shop post so all of the information is herein this information that you’re about to read. By taking the same approach that I did for my SEO, it’s my hope that you’ll build traffic to your website as well with the suggestions that are dispersed throughout here.
I’ve already written the bulk of the material that I want to cover in this post in a previous post called: A Guide for new bloggers on SEO basics. However, I wasn’t very happy with the formatting of the blog post (because of the way WordPress changes your formatting) so I’ve copy and pasted the bulk of the information that I want to cover and added the Keyword Research Glossary for Bloggers to the bottom of this post so that you don’t have to toggle back and forth.
I’ve also provided additional resources for you to look at (when applicable) at the bottom of various sections. To distinguish that they are additional resources for you to look at they’ve been centered.
The preliminary steps to get your website ready for SEO
This list represents just a few of the items to prepare your site and get it ready to be optimized for SEO. These items are outlined in my Free Blogging Mini Course.
- Selecting your niche
- Choosing you domain – I highly suggest that you check out Nameboy for less than $3.00/month. Then after you’ve been using Bluehost for 6 months you might want to migrate to SiteGround with better speed and customer service support. There are many free domains to use; however, if you would like to make money with your blog you’re better off with a self-hosted website where you have more control of your blog. And all more important reason is that free domain website hosting services are not recommended to improve your Blog’s SEO.
A couple of quick pointers for your domain name are make it short and easy to remember. Take the time to research your domain name because it’s affixed in stone once you’ve purchased it.
- Selecting the plug-ins that you want to use
- WordPress Theme that you want to use to show off your blog posts.
- Designing your website. I highly encourage you to check out the Do Six Figures Bootcamp Course.
SEO Basics Checklist
Understanding different types of SEOs
There are different types of SEO’s: The three listed below are the most important types.
- Technical SEO
- On-Page SEO and
- Off-Page SEO
In order to successfully get the most out of SEO for your website, you need to take advantage of all these three different types of SEO.
I have managed to get a pretty good grasp by improving my On-Page SEO from 75% to 100% with Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest program. Therefore, I hope you’ll take note that if you follow the recommendations for this blog post series you should be able to improve your SEO.
Technical SEO – I wrote a post called SEO Tools sorted by category. It’s a combination of On-Page and Off-Page SEO tools to help you do your site audit.
The four tools referenced within the above post are:
- Cache (increasing your Page Speed) – On-Page SEO
- SEO Effectiveness Tools – Technical SEO
- Keyword Research Utilities/Programs – a combination of On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.
- SEO Plug-ins – Off-Page SEO utilities
There are a ton of SEO rules and search engines are looking at these set of rules that may or may not pertain to your website. You’ll want to create a happy medium by ensuring that your website is nice in content as well as that it’s usability (performance) to your visitors and is smoothly running. The post called: Need more Traffic Focus on using a Holistic SEO Approach provides you with some more information on search engines. Holistic SEO is one of the best kept secrets on optimizing your website for it’s best SEO performance. If you dedicate the time and patience to put into optimizing your SEO there are some big rewards for you at the end of the rainbow. I started working on my website’s SEO from day one; however, one of the most important elements of keyword research was not a regular part of my routine (until now). One of the main things that I always like to stress to “new” bloggers is that it takes about 3 – 6 months for your SEO to get noticed, therefore take those first few months to get a really good understanding on SEO. Since the SEO process is so complex, hopefully this post helps you by bringing most of the elements involved in the SEO process all under one roof.
It’s very paramount to use internal and external links in your blog so that you the search engines can crawl your site, find the data, catalog it to the index, and then show the results that it forecasted.
In terms of content I want to let you know that there are four types of intent (listed below). For more information on content see: Using Content in your Keyword Research.
|Type of intent||People want to…|
|Informational intent||Find information on a specific topic|
|Navigational intent||Access a specific website by entering the term in a search engine (i.e. PinArtwork).|
|Commercial intent||Doing research before making a purchase|
|Transactional intent||Buying something, after they’ve done their commercial intent searches|
What is SEO?
The more things that you do to your website (in terms of SEO) means that you place higher in the Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc, search results. Thus increases the likelihood of your blog/website being seen.
To be able to control the whole SEO process and give algorithms what they want, the various SEO rules are grouped into three main categories and thus how other terms like technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO were born.
Verifying your website
There are at least five sites that you want to add and verify your website:
- Google Search Console
- Bing WebMaster
Google search console (GSC) is a free service provided by Google which gives webmasters access to a number of tools and reports for optimizing their websites on Google search.
One of the most important tools about GSC is to find out what Google knows about your website, analyze your Google rankings, identify and fix errors related to crawling and indexing and inform Google about changes made to your website. GSC is one of the most important tools to use to optimize your website’s SEO.
To get started with the Google search console you first need to create an account and then add and verify your web properties.
In addition to GSC you’ll want to verify your website with Bing.
Bing although it is not as popular as Google, is the second most used search engine and is worth considering.
Bing has a set of tools you can use to optimize your website’s appearance on Bing Search. These are called Bing Webmaster tools and have similar functionality to GSC.
Pro-Tip: If you’re using Yoast SEO Premium, you can do this same feature to setup four common search engines.
To be able to monitor your SEO performance you need the help of analytics and reporting tools and Google Analytics is the best tool to use (and it’s free).
The first step is to install the Google Analytics code on your website and familiarize yourself with basic SEO reports. An easy way to install the necessary code is with the use of a plug-in called Insert Headers and Footers.
I think that Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights is one of the best investments you can make as a blogger. Not only will you be privy to the analytics of your posts/pages, the Google Analytics for WordPress plug-in also comes with a tool called Headline Analyzer.
One of the very first things you need to make sure to check (when you are doing your audit) is to ensure that your website is not under any Google penalties. Read the information under resources to learn more about checking if your website is penalized by Google.
Your goal with technical SEO is to help search engines find, access, crawl, interpret, and index your website without any problems.
Install an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feed to your website.
An RSS Reader makes it easy for other people to see your blog posts once they are fed into an RSS reader program and can grow the traffic for your blog. To set up your RSS reader, visit my blog post: 11 easy ways to build backlinks and 7 useful ways to improve comments on your blog and navigate down to 1.9.8. Set up an RSS Feed for your blog.
Having an SSL installed on your website is one of the known ranking factors.
An SSL ensures that any information shared between your website and server is secured.
If you haven’t migrated your website to HTTPS yet, then this is a top priority item in your to-do list.
Adding an SSL to your website is not enough for SEO purposes, you need to make sure that you do it correctly to avoid losing your current rankings. I’d suggest that you contact your host provider.
The Index Coverage Report
If there are any problems during the crawling and indexing phase then this is very bad for your SEO.
It can cause huge issues with your rankings so one of the checks you need to make on a regular basis is to visit the Coverage report in the Google search console and check for errors.
Robots.txt is a file that resides in the root folder of your site and gives instructions to search engines as to which pages of your site they can crawl and index.
A misconfiguration in the robots.txt file can cause big errors or even de-indexing of your website from search engine results.
If you are using WordPress as your CMS then besides checking the robots.txt file, you also need to check the visibility setting in WordPress and make sure that you are not accidentally blocking search engines from access your content.
The setting is found under SETTINGS / READING
Another check to make is to ensure that any links within your comments section have the nofollow attribute attached.
Comments are good for SEO and should be enabled on your blog but to avoid getting a Google penalty for ‘unnatural links’, all outgoing links need to be nofollow.
A nofollow link instructs search engines not to pass any PageRank (or link juice) to the target website.
The easiest way to check is to use the INSPECT option of Google developers’ tools.
If you want to be a true SEO expert, while auditing your website, you should not forget about optimizing your site structure.
A good site structure is no more than 3 levels deep and it allows for any website link to be accessed from the homepage in 3 clicks or less.
The website menu should accurately reflect the website structure.
If this is not the case with your website, then revising your site structure can help you improve your SEO.
Why should you Optimize your individual posts & pages?
When writing or editing your post, there are a number of elements you need to pay special attention to in order to make it search engine optimization friendly.
Search engine optimization friendly doesn’t just mean that it’s easy for a search engine to grasp the topic of a page. More importantly, in a single glance a visitor gets a glimpse of your page before even going there in the first place.
Once they’ve visited your site, the things that determine if they are going to remain on your site are readability. Factors like headings, subheadings, images, etc.. Another good post that’s a search engine optimization tutorial is called SEO Checklist for Dummies.
An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the pages of your site that search engines need to know about.
Submitting your sitemap to Google is not the end of the story. You need to regularly check the Google search console for sitemap errors.
Schemas and structured data are nowadays very important for SEO.
They can dramatically help you enhance your website’s appearance in Google search results, they are good for local SEO and for Voice SEO.
Many people forget to add the necessary structured data to their homepage and this is a big mistake.
Your homepage is one of the most important pages of your site for many reasons and when it comes to SEO, it should be treated like the rest of the pages.
When it comes to structured data for the homepage, you need to ensure that you define the following schemas:
- Organization (if you are an online business)
- Local Business (if you have a physical presence i.e. a shop)
- Person (if you are running a personal blog).
Schema definitions sometimes change so it’s a good practice to check your schema implementation regularly using the Google structured data testing tool.
You can use the tool to check the structured data you added to the homepage and the rest of your pages.
Keeping your schema info up-to-date and valid is very important.
A breadcrumb menu is a small menu usually located at the top of a page, used as a navigational aid. It shows the path to go from the current page back to the homepage.
Breadcrumb menus are good for the user experience and thus they are also good for SEO.
Google loves breadcrumbs and they recommend using them on your site.
One of the advantages of using breadcrumb menus is that they enhance the presentation of your search snippets in mobile search results.
Google is sometimes using the breadcrumb name instead of the URL in the search snippet so you need to make sure that the relevant structured data is added for your breadcrumbs.
If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin for breadcrumbs, it automatically adds the correct schema and structured data code.
Canonicalization is an advanced SEO concept but something that is extremely important to get right.
Canonical URLs can help you solve duplicate content issues, protect your content when other websites use your content (with or without your concern) and it’s the only way to specify your preferred domain to Google.
To learn more about canonical URLs and how to use them correctly, read these guides:
If your website’s content is available in more than one language, you need to use hreflang tags to tell Google about the localized versions of your page.
Failing to do so can create issues for your indexing because Google might get confused if the same page is available in more than one language.
Check this guide for more information on how to SEO your Multilanguage website.
The 404 Page is shown when a page is not found on your site. This can be because users mistyped a URL, a page was deleted from your site and is no longer available.
For the best user experience, you need to ensure that your 404 page is meaningful and gives alternative options to users to find what they are looking for. It’s not advisable to make redirects for your 404 page errors. They can severely affect the performance of your website.
As part of a technical SEO review, you need to check and improve your website loading speed as much as possible. Loading speed is a known Google ranking factor and a very important user experience factor. Slow websites lose money and customers for every second delay. For ways to improve your page speed I highly suggest using WPRocket. To improve WPRocket and get the optimal settings refer to the post called: How to Improve your Blog’s Performance and Page Speed.
One practical way to improve the loading speed of your site, especially on mobile is to use Lazy loading for images and videos.
Lazy loading is a mechanism that loads images or videos only when they are in the user’s viewport.
Lazy loading can be implemented very easily. If you’re on WordPress you can either use WP-ROCKET (this is the plugin I’m using on this site) or the Native Lazy Load plugin (by Google), to activate this feature on your website.
One last thing to review before proceeding to the rest of the items in this SEO checklist is to optimize your website’s logo and favicon
Making sure that your logo is an image and not text – Google may decide to show your logo in the search results and in order to do so it has to be an image.
Give your logo the correct name – Do not just use the word logo but use your website name + logo. For example, reliablesoft-logo.png
Add ALT text with your logo – Keep the alt text simple i.e. “reliablesoft logo”
When it comes to the use of favicon, make sure that you specify a custom favicon for your site that is square in size.
Google is testing showing the favicons in the search results so you need to make sure that your website is represented properly.
On-Page SEO is all about the content of your page and it has two major goals.
To help you create content that satisfies the user intent and give you guidelines on how to create SEO friendly content that is easily understood by search engines.
One of the things that wasn’t pointed out to me when I first started blogging is that you should plan to write blog posts pertaining to the same topic to help build your site’s URL structure. Dependent on the plug-in or theme that you’re using your previous and next posts may show up and be displayed to your visitor. So keep that in mind when you’re writing your first few posts.
The advantages of On-Page SEO:
- Increases your blog’s traffic
- Get higher rankings from various search engines
- Make it easier for the crawlers to index your site.
Page title optimization is the most important SEO factor. In your title, you should include your target keywords as this helps both search engines and users get an idea of what the page content is all about.
Besides using keywords in the title, headings, and meta description you should also follow these best practices:
- Each and every page of your website should have a unique title tag
- A page title should accurately describe the page content
- Titles should be brief and informative (typically less than 60 characters)
- Your posts/pages should have a H1 heading.
When optimizing your titles, don’t forget about your homepage!
Meta descriptions are shown in the search results and it’s a great opportunity to ‘advertise’ your page to users.
Good meta descriptions can increase your CTR (click-through rate) and get you more search engine traffic by utilizing your existing content and rankings. Once your blog begins to get regular traffic you’re going to want to learn more about how to monetize your blog.
Depending on the program that you use there will be different suggestions as to the length that they suggestion. I personally like to use the suggestions from Yoast SEO or you can use the SEOQuake free browser toolbox program.
Optimizing posts and/or pages with Yoast SEO
It’s not always necessary to have a green bullet beside every Yoast suggestion. Not every bullet has to be green in order to rank. Use these two pieces of advice from Yoast:
1. Pursue the green bullet wisely; use the SEO analysis tool correctly!
2. Getting green bullets should never be more important than your keyword strategy, content, and site structure.
A check that you need to make (and not many people do), is to search for your brand name on Google and review the results.
You need to ensure that nothing bad (like a negative review), shows up for your brand name because this can have a negative impact on your reputation but also on your SEO.
Another way to improve the appearance of your website on Google is through sitelinks.
Although you cannot directly control which sitelinks are shown for your website, there are ways to guide Google to pick the sitelinks you want.
Google shows sitelinks for individual posts too. Post sitelinks make your search snippet more attractive to clicks.
To help Google show sitelinks for your posts, you can ‘name’ the different sections of your article using the ID attribute or using named anchors.
Google loves to show lists on top of its search results. This is usually the case with the how-to type of articles, tips, or posts that include lists.
For example, try searching Google for “SEO Tips”, “Technical SEO checklist”, “How to become an SEO Expert” and you’ll see something like this:
Google snippet with a list. The good thing for SEOs is that it’s easy to configure your posts to be eligible for list snippets.
One of the on-page SEO elements that are easy to optimize is the H1 Tag.
The H1 tag is the first important element shown on a page and it usually has the same value as the page title.
H1 Tag SEO is easy:
- The H1 tag should be the same or slightly different than the page title
- Make sure that your H1 tag is visible and not hidden from users
- Style your H1 tag differently than the rest of the headings
- Use only one H1 tag per page
Besides the H1 tag, you also need to optimize the other headings of your post. That’s usually the H2 and H3 headings.
SEO guidelines to follow:
- Don’t use heading tags when other tags such as bold or italic are more appropriate.
- Don’t overdo it with the use of headings. Use headings when it matters for structure, navigation purposes and to make the page content easier to read.
- You don’t have to use all heading types on a page. You can have the h1 and only h2s, depending on the length and type of your content.
- Having a balance between the use of headings and other formatting elements is always the best approach.
Look at the post you’re reading now as an example.
- I use H1 for the Title
- H2 for the main headings (On-Page SEO checklist, Technical SEO checklist, etc.)
- H3 for the individual items
This is one of the basic principles of SEO content. Having the keywords, you want a page to be known for on Google in your opening paragraph makes your page more relevant for those keywords, for both search engines and users.
You don’t have to overdo it, mentioning your target keyword once or twice is enough.
Search engines can better understand text than any other element so to make their job easier make sure that you always have text content on a page.
Having a page full of images or videos is not a good SEO practice.
Importance of Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness for Rankings.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. How is this related to SEO?
Google has recently introduced this concept to stress the fact that websites that rank high in their search results need to have a good reputation.
In simple terms, this means that Google is trying to rank websites that are proven to have authority and expertise about a topic and websites that are trusted by users.
Throwing text and images on a page it’s not the way to design a page that is to be eligible for ranking on Google.
You need to work on your formatting and styling and give users a nice experience. You don’t have to do something too fancy, just ensure that your pages are easy to read on all devices.
Don’t use fonts that are too small to read and make use of the available formatting elements to beautify your text.
Once in a while it may be easier in WordPress to delete a huge check of info which can be done with the code editor. This is available through using the Jetpack plug-in and comes in very useful at times. Because WordPress uses blocks it can be tedious to delete a whole bunch of information that has to be done one block at a time.
Signs of a professional website is that it’s free of grammar and spelling mistakes. A very good program that I highly recommend to “new” bloggers and you can get it for free is Grammarly.
Image optimization is a must. Search engines are getting better at understanding what an image is about but for image SEO purposes you need to take care of three things:
Optimize the Image Filename
Image Filenames should be informative and accurately describe the image.
Optimize the Image file size
As a general rule of thumb the smaller the image size is (in bytes) the better.
- Don’t use dashes in your alt text.
- Write normally and try to describe in a few words what the image is about.
- Use keywords that are relevant to the content of the page but don’t overdo it.
- Keep your alt text short and to the point
Pro-Tip: A good habit for “new” bloggers to get into is to add a description to the Alt + Txt field. Me sure that the description (in the Alt + Txt field) you use describes the image and not the contents of the post. The descriptive narrative goes into the description field.
Besides creating an XML sitemap for your pages, you also need to submit your images to Google.
You can add the images in your main XML sitemap or create a dedicated image sitemap like the example below.
Image Sitemap Example
Don’t forget to submit your sitemap using the Google search console.
Note: If you use Yoast SEO you won’t need to worry about a sitemap. It does most of the work for you in the free and paid versions.
When you add a video to your content, either from YouTube, Vimeo or by uploading it to your website, you also need to add the proper schema to help Google understand what the video is about.
Schema Markup for Videos
In the video schema, you can define the title, description, and thumbnail of a video.
By regularly adding content to your website (preferably at least one blog post per week) you’ll slowly increase your domain authority (DA) score. Don’t be overly consumed with your DA score. The thing that “new” bloggers need to be focused on improving their SEO. By writing great content people will naturally want to add your site to their blog posts which provides you with valuable backlinks. In turn that leads to higher rankings.
Just like images, if you use videos in your content, you also need to add them to a sitemap (either to your main sitemap or separate) and submit to Google and Bing via webmaster tools.
I see this all the time. Webmasters spending all their time optimizing their posts and product pages but forget about the category pages. Pro-Tip: One of your primary goals (of using SEO) is to get your product page to the top of Google’s search results.
Category pages need to be treated the same way as ‘normal’ pages. This means optimizing their titles, descriptions, and content.
This is especially important if you have an eCommerce website.
Internal linking is a favorite SEO tactic. The concept is simple, all you have to do is to interlink your website pages together, creating a small web.
Pages that have a greater number of internal links are considered by Google to be the most important pages of your site.
When adding internal links, make sure that you optimize your anchor text.
This is actually SEO advice coming directly from Google and these are the exact words they used.
In simple terms, they are encouraging webmasters to link out to other high-quality websites on the Internet.
The reason is simple, it helps their algorithm in ranking the important websites on the top positions.
The SEO gains from doing so for your website are the following:
- You give your users a good option to learn more about a topic
- You position your content as a good source that links out to other good sources.
Keyword research is a critical process for SEO. If you get your keyword research wrong, you’ll be targeting the wrong keywords.
This means that you may either fail to achieve high rankings because the keywords are too competitive or you may end up ranking for keywords that offer no real value to your business.
To make sure that none of the above will happen, follow the best practices in the keyword research checklist.
The first step before getting your hands dirty and start doing keyword research is to understand what are SEO keywords and how to find the RIGHT keywords for your website or business.
This is a recommended step, even if you are an SEO specialist.
Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all searches and this means that if you don’t know what long-tail keywords are and how to target them correctly, you are minimizing your chances of getting any decent amount of traffic from search engines.
So, before proceeding to the next step, make sure that you know exactly the SEO strategy to follow to get to long-tail keywords.
Once you know the keyword research basics and have a clear idea in your mind of what you want to achieve with keyword research, it’s time to get your hands dirty and do it.
Your ultimate goal is to come up with a keyword list you can use to optimize your existing pages but also keywords to target with new content.
This combination is what will guarantee long-term SEO success.
To take advantage of your keyword research efforts, you need to know how the outcome of keyword research to optimize your content.
Follow these simple rules:
- Use your target keyword in the page title
- Use your target keyword in the page URL
- Use your target keyword in the H1 tag
- Use Long-tail keywords in your H2 and H3 headings
- Use related keywords in the image ALT Text
- Use related keywords and synonyms in your copy
- Use LSI keywords in your content
. No SEO checklist is complete without mentioning Off-Page SEO.
Technical SEO and On-Page SEO (including content SEO), will help you create an SEO-friendly website that users will enjoy but to rank higher in Google, you need more than that.
This is where off-page SEO comes to the rescue. In simple terms, off-page SEO is about website promotion techniques and how to convince search engine algorithms that your website deserves a higher ranking in the search results than other websites.
Higher rankings will lead to more organic traffic and this is what all website owners want. Off-Page SEO is not optional but a necessary component of your SEO strategy.
Your overall goal with off-page SEO is to get high-quality incoming links from other related websites on the Internet.
Links act as a ‘vote of trust’ and they are taken into account by search engine algorithms.
Make no mistake, it’s not a numbers game i.e. it’s not about having more links than your competitors but it’s about having the right type of links that can push your rankings up.
Mistakes with off-page SEO i.e. buying links, participating in link exchanges, or other actions that violate Google webmaster guidelines, can get you in trouble.
A Google penalty (either manual or algorithmic) may be imposed on your website and you will lose your rankings and traffic.
To succeed with off-page SEO, you first need to understand what is link building and why it’s important.
In simple words, links are important because they are part of the search engine ranking algorithms and can influence your ranking positions.
Websites with good quality incoming links are more likely to rank higher in the SERPS than websites with zero or fewer links.
Right now I have one SERP that is on the third page of Google (the bottom link). The blog post depicts every episode of seven seasons for Star Trek – The Next Generation (TNG). Every pin is a collage of my favorite show – Star Trek. With time, I hope it moves up to higher ranking.
This association of links and rankings was first introduced by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google Founders) when they wrote the initial Google ranking algorithm in the late 1990s.
Their idea was that websites that are referenced (linked) from other websites on the Web, are more important and thus deserve to rank higher in the search results.
Link Building Overview
Of course, things have changed a lot since then and a lot more factors are taken into account when calculating the ranking position of a page for a given keyword, but links still have a very important role to play.
It’s not only a number game i.e. the website with more links does not rank higher but it’s also a matter where those links are coming from.
Besides understanding the importance of link building for rankings, you also need to familiarize yourself with basic link building concepts.
You need to:
Understand the difference between a good link and a bad link
Not all links are equal. Good links can help your rankings, bad links can get you into trouble.
Understand the difference between white hat and black hat link building
There is a lot of talk in the SEO industry about white hat and black hat link building techniques. You need to stay on the safe side and only follow white hat SEO practices. Don’t turn over to the dark side because the ramification s could be huge to your website’s SEO.
Understand the difference between normal links and ‘no follow’ links
Incoming links that carry the nofollow attribute do not count towards your rankings. They are still useful for branding and traffic purposes but they don’t help your rankings. Note: If you are using affiliate links you’re required to use nofollow links. Programs like Yoast SEO and ThirstyAffiliates are helpful to setup the no follow links. Natural links are the best links you can get. A natural link is what Google wants and knowing how to get it, can make a big difference to your rankings.
A critical item in the off-page SEO checklist is how to get links that can positively influence your rankings.
This is one of the most complicated and time-consuming processes of SEO but a very important one.
Read the guide below for all white hat link building techniques that are proven to work. I’m sure you’ll find some practices that you didn’t think about.
When working to build links to your website, sometimes things can get messy. You may end up having ‘bad links’ to your profile that can potentially get you into trouble.
It is thus recommended to review your link profile regularly and take action when needed.
In addition to the above techniques, there is a subset of SEO called Local SEO.
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in the first positions of Google, Bing, and Yahoo for searches that are related to your area/city/ country.
Everything included in this SEO checklist is beneficial for Local SEO, but when it comes to optimizing your website for searches related to specific locations, there a few more optimizations to take into account.
Your overall goal with local SEO is to rank higher for location-aware search queries like ‘Italian restaurants near me’ or ‘dentists in Pennsylvania’ or ‘wedding photographers in Montreal’.
This is not the most important local SEO factor but every little bit helps.
Use your logo ALT text to give more details about the location of your business.
For example, if you have a business located in Florida, you can use this (see below) as the alt text of your logo.
<img src=”http://example.com/images/mayers-dental-surgeons-logo.png” alt=”Mayers Dental Surgeons, Tampa, FL”>
Any signals you can give to Google related to your locality are useful for Local SEO.
On all your website pages, make sure that your full address details (street number, postcode, state, country, telephone number, fax number, email) are visible as text (not image) in a prominent position.
See below a few examples of good and bad NAP formats.
It is important to use the same information and format when displaying your name, address, and phone number on different channels across the web. For example on your website, Google My Business page, Yelp, Facebook, etc.
Google Maps for Local SEO
On the contact us page make sure that you embed a Google map and have text content that shows your business name, address, and telephone.
This is extremely important if you want your business to show up in the Google maps snippet (in the search results) and in Google maps.
Follow these steps to get started with Google My Business.
Depending on the type of local business, you should use the appropriate schema.
Here is an example of how the schema looks for a local restaurant. This piece of JSON-LD code should be added to the homepage.
Besides adding your website to Google My business, there are a number of other trusted directories you can use to list your website and give Google signals about your location.
Directories you can use:
- Register your website with Bing Places for Business
- Register Your Business with Local directories
- Create a Local business page on Facebook
- Register your business with Yelp for Business Owners
- Register with Foursquare for Business
Authentic reviews can play a critical role in your local SEO rankings.
You need to encourage users to review your business on different platforms (Google my business being one of the most important) and it is equally important to reply to all reviews (either good or bad) on ALL platforms.
You can ask your customers to leave a review on their favorite platform either by giving them incentives i.e. 5% on their next purchase or by sending them reminders by SMS or email.
Any mentions (backlinks) you can get from trusted websites in the same city as your business, is a strong signal for your Local SEO.
For example, you can get a link from a local (online) newspaper or a magazine related to your niche.
If you haven’t done this already, go and check your Google Analytics statistics and in particular the Devices Report (that’s under Audience / Mobile).
Most probably you will notice that at least 60% of your traffic comes from mobile. The rise in mobile searches has been huge for the last couple of years and it is expected to grow even more in the coming years.
Mobile Search Statistics
This factor led Google to create a mobile-first index. In short with the introduction of the ‘mobile-first-index’, Google will use the mobile version of a website for ranking purposes.
This means that if your website is not optimized for mobile, your rankings will eventually decrease and this means a great loss of traffic.
While going through the mobile SEO checklist, have in mind that your mobile website should include all the content found on your desktop site.
This includes having optimized titles, descriptions, text content, images, video, internal links, and everything that you show in the desktop version.
If you have a responsive website then you already made a big first step but mobile SEO is not just about having a responsive design.
The Google mobile-friendly test is a free tool by Google that will check your website and give you recommendations on how to make it mobile-friendly.
It’s a test that will check for basic mobile usability problems like small font sizes but it’s a good start.
Check your mobile speed using different tools
Loading speed is very important for users on mobile. Your goal is to make your website load on mobile in less than 3 seconds.
It’s not easy to do, you may need to use the help of a developer to get to that number but it certainly worth’s it.
All the guidelines explained above for improving your page speed using lazy loading for images, optimizing your image file size will help a lot so if you haven’t already done this, add these items on top of your list.
Some tools to use to find out how long it takes for your website to load on mobile:
- Google Page Speed insights
- Google mobile speed test
- GTMetrix – this is my favorite to use that looks at your sites performance, structure, and functionality. It’s a good indicator for your website that your SEO is heading in the right direction.
For additional tools to test your pages site speed check out the post called: SEO Tools sorted by category.
Don’t forget to also check the speed reports (under Enhancements) in the Google search console.
Besides checking your mobile speed, it is equally important to test how your website looks on different resolutions.
You need to ensure that the text is big enough to be read on mobile devices, that there are no horizontal scroll bars and that buttons are easy to click.
The best tool to use for this task is the Google Chrome Developer Tools.
Google punishes mobile websites that make extensive use of popups and banner ads.
As a first step make sure that you don’t use popups on mobile and that there is enough content in the user’s viewport before showing any ads.
Call to Action (CTA) buttons and messages are important for a website’s success. At the end of the day, you want to optimize your website so that it gets traffic that you can take advantage of.
Since most of your traffic is coming from mobile, you need to check that mobile users can see your CTA buttons and messages and that they can easily access them.
This means that you may have to adjust your mobile design to position your CTA in places where they can be seen, like making use of sticky footers. (access my website on mobile to see this in action).
Accelerated Mobile Pages is a term used to describe a new way of building mobile-friendly pages that load faster compared to traditional mobile pages.
At the core of AMP is AMP HTML which is a cut down version of normal HTML, that allows for better performance when pages are served in the browser.
Google is giving preference to AMP pages in the ‘top stories carousel’, ‘host carousel’, and rich snippets.
If you run a ‘news type’ website, you should seriously consider implementing AMP. If not, you don’t have to because it can complicate things.
Read the guide below to help you decide if AMP is something that will help your website or not.
Blogging Glossary on Keyword Research for “new Bloggers
If you want your website to be successful it’s imperative that you know how to use keywords to create content and help search engines to find your Blog on the Internet. There’s a wrong way and a right way to create content utilizing keywords. The links at the top of this post can guide you in this endeavor so that your writing content focused around the keyword.
Pro-Tip: Don’t use the same focus keyphrase for each of your blog posts. Instead write your posts using a different focus keyphrase and use of keywords to improve your SEO. And for best results use long-tail terms (more than four words in the focus keyphrase).
Active Voice: You’ll get a green bullet if less than 10% of your sentences have passive voice. It’ll turn red if you go over 15%. Passive voice makes your writing more distant, and your message less clear. Writing in the active voice makes your writing stronger!
Algorithm (of a search engine): A search engine algorithm is a complex algorithm used by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to determine a web page’s significance.
Algorithm (of Pinterest): First, Pinterest creates your home feed based on the traditional ranking algorithm. Then, the controllable distribution algorithm reviews the variety of the content in this feed, and makes changes based on what you’ve searched for in the past.
Bounce rate: It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce“) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. If you want to learn more about how to lower your bounce rate visit the post called: 25 Tools and Suggestions on how to Lower your Bounce Rate.
Cornerstone content: Arguably, cornerstone content is the most important part of your content marketing strategy. Cornerstone content consists of the best articles and pages on your site, those that you want search engines to see and consider. To learn more about cornerstone content visit my post called: How to do a SEO Cornerstone Approach.
Categories: Minimum of 5 to 10 well-structured categories. Categories provide clarification of your site’s structure.
Crawlability: Crawlability describes the search engine’s ability to access and crawl content on a page. If a site has no crawlability issues, then web crawlers can access all its content easily by following links between pages
Crawler (also referred to as bots, robots, and spiders): A Web crawler, sometimes called a spider or spiderbot and often shortened to crawler, is an Internet bot that systematically browses the World Wide Web.
External links: These are the links that point outside of your website to other blogs. They provide further explanation or more information for your visitors to find the information they are seeking.
☐ At least one External Link to A High Authority Source – link is away from your website.
Google: Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you’re looking
Google Analytics: Google Analytics is used to track website activity such as session duration, pages per session, bounce rate etc. of individuals using the site, along with the information on the source of the traffic.
Google Search Console: Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.
Holistic SEO approach: Holistic SEO (search engine optimization) refers to improving all important aspects of a website to make it rank higher in the search engines. The ultimate goal is to make a website fulfill its users’ needs on all levels. The holistic approach to SEO is one of two legitimate paths you can take to rank your website up the search engine results.
Index: An index is another name for the database used by a search engine. Indexes contain the information on all the websites that Google (or any other search engine) was able to find. If a website is not in a search engine’s index, users will not be able to find it. The index as the main reference point. It is the source data in Google’s index that ultimately determines the value of different search terms and keywords.
Indexability: The accessibility and transparency offered by a web page to search engine web crawlers to facilitate downloading and cataloguing. A characteristic that can be strengthened by employing web optimization techniques.
Internal link: An internal link is a type of hyperlink on a web page to another page or resource, such as an image or document, on the same website or domain. Hyperlinks are considered either “external” or “internal” depending on their target or destination.
☐ At least one Internal Link to another page on Your Website – link stays within your website.
Keyword research: Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research search terms that users enter into search engines when looking for products, services or general information. Keywords are related to queries, which are asked by users in search engines.
One of the best tools to use for Keyword Research is KeySearch
Keyword stuffing: refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search.
Landing pages: a landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor “lands” (when they visit the page).
Link building: Link building, simply put, is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. … Building links is one of the many tactics used in search engine optimization (SEO) because links are a signal to Google that your site is a quality resource worthy of citation. There are two methods of link building. The first one is the one that is recommended and be extremely careful if you use the latter (called black-hat methods).
- White-hat methods: White hat SEO refers to SEO tactics that are approved by the major search engines and compliant with their terms and conditions. These techniques are safe.
- Black-hat methods: Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.
Long tail keyword: A long tail keyword is a phrase that is generally made from three to five words. Since these keywords are more specific than generic terms, they allow you to target niche demographics. … With long tail keywords, you are able to attract more high-quality traffic to your website which is more likely to lead to conversions.
Meta description: Click on Edit Sniplet (located on the left side) to edit the meta description (this requires installing the Yoast SEO plug-in). If it’s not visible, click the down arrow on “Google preview”. The length of the meta description has up to 156 characters available, use the space and shoot for more than 120 characters.
Niche: A niche blog (69 pins about defining your blog’s niche) is a blog that is very specialized – it targets a distinct audience in the market. Instead of writing about anything and everything, a niche blog focuses on something specific that a smaller group of people find very interesting. A niche blog is helpful because it allows you to remain focused on a specific subject and to grow your ranking because of your expertise. It’s not mandatory to select a niche and if that doesn’t seem inviting to you because you want to write about anything and everything, consider setting up a Lifestyle Blog. Here’s a link to 21 of my Pinterest pins depicting information about how to start a lifestyle blog.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on your website’s presence in search results on search engines like Google. When you understand how SEO works, you can use different tactics to increase your visibility (or how high you rank) in search results.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The page that a search engine returns after a user submits a search query. In addition to organic search results, search engine results pages (SERPs) usually include paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
In an ideal world, we would use categories to group the content on your website into — say — eight to ten global segments. On our blog, these segments are for instance Analytics, Content SEO, eCommerce and Technical SEO. By maintaining a limited set of categories, you can keep your website, and your content focused. Now, of course, you can dissect the content even further, going to more particular groupings. For that, you should use tags.
Transitions: Transitions are words containing and, but, so, because, etc. They display to the reader how the previous sentences or phrases are connected to one another and bring flow to your work making it easier to read.
The transition words check in the Yoast search engine optimization plug-in assesses whether or not you use enough transition words, Yoast provides many ways for you to improve your SEO. If at least 30% of the sentences in your text contain a transition word, the bullet will be green. You’ll get an orange bullet if you use them in more then 20%, or in less than 30% of your sentences. The bullet will turn red if less than 20% of the sentences of your text contain a transition word. That’s less than 1 in 5 sentences.
User experience (UX): User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project. UX is important for SEO, because search engines want to provide people with the best result for their query.
Word Count – Don’t write Pages and/or posts with less than 500 words. If your copy and pasting from Word. The number of words in Microsoft Word gets displayed in the bottom left hand corner next to page x of y. Goal to shoot for is between 1,000 and 1,200 words. It’s okay to go over, Google appreciates detailed articles. Focus on providing quality content not quantity. This post of a search engine optimization tutorial covers many different factors and SEO involves learning so many different things. That’s why I highly suggest to use a SEO plug-in like Yoast SEO premium and other bloggers suggest using Rank Math (which I’ve never used before for the sole reason of not having two SEO plug-ins running at the same time).
Having a checklist is a great way to work on your SEO. What you read in our SEO checklist above covers almost all areas of SEO.
If you manage to make your website compliant with all the above items, then you can feel confident that your website is in good SEO shape and this will eventually translate to higher rankings and more traffic.
A great way to learn everything you need to know to implement all SEO practices is to enroll in an SEO certification course. A good course will help you master SEO faster than any other method.
As mentioned in the introduction, don’t skip any of the items even if you feel that they are not very important.
Experienced SEOs know two things about search engine optimization.
The first is that a lot of small optimization changes can bring big results.
Second, besides knowledge another SEO success factor is patience. It takes time for SEO to work and you need to take that into account.
Don’t rush to a conclusion too soon, work through the list items one by one and be patient, results will follow.