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Making a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) checklist starts with the best of intentions but it can easily become an endless list of tasks that never gets completed. SEO is an ongoing piece of digital marketing strategy that needs to be built day by day.
But if you’re short on time, here are some core items to check mid-year to make sure no fires are burning in your web department.
We’ve all encountered the frustrating “Page Not Found” message when searching the internet. It’s misleading for both humans and search engines to see 404 errors so be sure to fix these quickly by implementing a 301 redirect.
Page titles are one of the most important pieces of content on a website since they are one of the first things crawled by search engines and the first thing users see on search results pages. Meta descriptions act like advertising copy, providing extra information to help users determine if the page is relevant to their query or not.
Each page should have a unique title and description. Missing titles and meta descriptions can be found with a crawl test through the same tool as the 404 errors.
Sometimes partial or full pages of content are blocked from search engine crawling, making it less likely those pages will rank well in search results. To see if your site is blocking content, use the “Blocked Resources” tab in Google Search Console. You can also look at your robots.txt file and see if any content is disallowed. This is easily found by appending the website URL with /robots.txt.
Sitemaps help search engines index a website. While they can automatically be discovered, ideally sitemaps are submitted via Google Search Console. Google Search Console will also tell you if there are sitemap errors preventing proper indexing. Are you unsure on how to find your sitemap? Append your website’s URL with /sitemap.xml and a sitemap file(s) should appear.
Any major tracking issues should be obvious in whatever analytics platform you use such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics. For instance, if email traffic dropped to zero but emails were still being sent, then clearly some tagging was removed and should be re-installed. Quickly check your tracking code installation through Google Tag Assistant, a free and helpful Chrome extension.
With Google preparing to switch priority indexing from desktop to mobile, speed is more important than ever. There are a number of tools but the most widely used is PageSpeed Insights. It will give you a score out of 100 and then break down specific speed issues with your site. Almost every website can benefit from compressing images, using a better server, and simplifying code in above the fold content.
In your analytics tool, look over website sources and compare that to the previous year. Did your organic traffic decrease by 20%? Did direct traffic see a huge spike? Large traffic fluctuations are the smoke to any burning fires.
An organic traffic decrease could have been from a Google algorithm change while a direct traffic spike could be a data feed issue that requires extra filtering. Find your traffic sources in Google Analytics by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
Business goals change constantly but website conversion goals are often overlooked and just put on auto-pilot. Take some time to update conversions, pausing obsolete goals and creating new ones.
What content produced the most leads or engagement? If you are not looking at this on a regular basis, you might be surprised which blog posts and landing pages are performing the best. Take action with this data and use the best content for ads and email campaigns. There are numerous ways to check content stats. For a quick overview in Google Analytics navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
Funneling down from traffic sources and site content, search queries are a granular way to better understand your audience. Search queries can be found in Google Search Console and AdWords if you are running search ads.
Pinpoint which queries are on the rise and be sure to work them into your keyword strategy. This is a great way to stay relevant and provide accurate answers for audience queries.
Search engines never sleep and neither can your optimization efforts. While this is a mid-year SEO checklist, looking at these items on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis will keep your website performing at its very best.