I see a lot of websites every day when I’m preparing for or doing technical SEO audits that are in a shocking state as far as SEO is concerned. Some of these sites have no hope of getting seen in Google’s search results unless the site gets completely re-built! This is both costly and frustrating for website owners.
Of course this scenario can be prevented if SEO is top-of-mind from the beginning of a site build.
For this reason I’ve put together a quick SEO checklist for anyone looking at building their own website or getting a website built for them by a developer or agency.
Ensure that the following are implemented at the beginning and during the site build and your website’s ranking abilities will be golden.
- Ensure that your website has been built with fast load speed in mind
- If utilising a WordPress theme, make sure that that theme doesn’t have third party plugins that may slow the site down. Look for themes that specifically say that they’ve been built to be fast
- Ensure that the site will be utilising an SSL certificate once launched so that it uses a secure HTTPS connection.
- Ensure that the primary keywords are being targeted on their relevant pages
- The homepage should be optimised for the main primary keyword
- Each of the other pages should also be optimised for their own target keywords, for example a services page for graphic design can be optimised for the keyword “graphic design services”
- Each page of the website needs to contain unique and relevant content for that page. Ideally category pages should contain no less than 400 words, while main, information pages and blog posts should contain no less than 1200 words
- Content should be structured correctly, utilising the use of heading tags and maintaining a hierarchical structure.
- Ensure that each page’s title tag contains that page’s target keyword (preferably in the beginning of the title)
- Each title tag should not exceed 70 characters in length.
- Ensure that the URL is short, clear and contains the page’s target keyword.
- Ensure that each page contains a unique description which does not exceed 155 characters and contains the page’s target keyword.
- Ensure that each page contains a rel canonical tag that points to one canonical version of the page. If the content of the page is unique then the canonical tag should contain the URL of the page, if the page’s content has been copied from another source on the web, then the canonical tag should contain the URL to that source.
- Ensure that all images on a page include ALT text that describes the image.
- Ensure that all internal links within the website point to their respective pages using that page’s target keyword.
- Ensure that the site’s robots.txt file is setup correctly. Add the following to your site’s robots.txt:
- Ensure pages that you want to be included in Google’s index are not being noindexed on a per page bases.
- I highly recommend NOT to include the meta keywords tag as this has been deprecated and allows your competitors to view your target keywords.
- Ensure that your page’s target keyword is included in the H1 tag
- Ensure that there is only one H1 tag per page (unless the page uses an HTML5 modular structure).
- Is any pages on the site utilising cloaking? I don’t recommend cloaking. Cloaking is when content presented to google is different from content presented to users. Example: hidden content within a div.
- Ensure that the page does not render when adding capitalisation to the URLs.
- All capitalised URLs should be redirected to lowercase.
- When a trailing slash is added or taken away from a page’s URL, does the page render with/without the trailing slash? If so this causes duplicated pages. Choose a preferred URL structure (I recommend WITH a trailing slash for WP sites) and redirect the not preferred URL to the preferred URL.
- Ensure that images are in the correct file format for their specific use (photos to be in .jpg format, icons can either be in .png or .gif format)
- Ensure that images have been optimised for the web, try to get the smallest file size possible without distorting image quality
- Use descriptive image naming. If the image is a yellow chair, call it a yellow chair in the file name.
- Ensure that all external links without editorial value are NoFollow links. Such links include site wide footer links.
Question? Pop me an email.