With over 200 parameters, frequent improvements and only some publicly available information about about how Google’s algorithm works, no one knows exactly what Google is looking for when they crawl and index your site, but we do know enough. If you need help with SEO, this SEO checklist contains some of the basic things that you can do to improve your SEO.
First, choose some search phrases that you think your target audience will use when searching Google for what you have to offer. These search phrases are called keywords.
If you need some inspiration, Google Ads has a Keyword Planner which is great for stimulating ideas. Or you can just go directly to Google, type your phrase into the search bar and Google will show you some of the most popular searches as you type. You'll find more ideas at the bottom of the search results page.
Once you have a selection of keywords that you’re happy with, you need to make sure that they are included in your website so Google can match your site with the phrase being searched for. Ideally focus on one main keyword or key phrase per page on your website.
Try to use your chosen keyword multiple times, in:
SEO specific titles and description fields (often called meta descriptions and title tags. This is the snippet of information that is delivered when someone searches Google - take time to get this right as this is what will encourage searchers to click through to your site)
image alt text if appropriate (open the image in the back end of your site and there should be a place for you to add some extra text about the image)
The more often your keywords are used, the more relevant Google recognises your site as being. However, it’s important to remember that the foundation of good SEO is that you have a popular, reputable, trustworthy site with well-written, useful content, so be sure to include your keywords appropriately. People bouncing off your site without reading anything will negatively impact your SEO, whereas you'll get credit for people who stick around to read content or look at products.
Internal links, where you link some text on the page to another page on your site, are also good to include where relevant, as it can help Google recognise the page as relevant and encourage people to read more content and help reduce those bounce rates.
External links, where you link text to a different website, can be smart to include where relevant.
Most businesses will find that it is a great idea to have a content plan as part of their marketing strategy, because Google also looks for freshness – ie how recently and how regularly you update your site. Adding content from time to time also gives you new opportunities to use new, relevant keywords.
Off-page SEO is a bit harder, but it is extremely valuable to Google’s perception of how popular, reputable and trustworthy your site is. Google loves to see good quality sites linking back to your website.
These are called backlinks, and it’s worth putting time and effort into getting them because Google also looks for:
how many other websites link back to your site
how reputable these sites are
how often your business, brand or website are mentioned in the media
how often people mention your business, brand or website on social media
Focusing on local SEO is easy with Google My Business. Make sure you register your business, categorise it correctly and complete all fields. Adding content here can also be a part of your content plan.
Reviews, recommendations and testimonials are gold. This is todays digital version of word of mouth and Google loves to see (positive) reviews. Google likes sites that other people like, so encourage your customers to give you reviews on your Google My Business listing and/or your social pages.
In short: You can improve your SEO
Google wants to recommend your site if it’s the right one for a specific search, it just needs your help to do it. If you put the effort in to help it understand what your website is about by using keywords and internal links, the easier it is for them to determine that your site matches the search. When it sees good reviews and respected websites linking to yours, the better it feels about the quality of your products, services and content, and your site goes up even higher in search results.
Getting good SEO is a slow game, it takes patience, time and effort, but you can improve your SEO. Getting it right is a must do if you want to be found by your potential customers.
Author: Pip Mehrtens | June 2020