Both marketers and webmasters have a role to play in setting up a new website for success with SEO best practices. The below checklist suggests activities for both roles to improve organic ranking over time when that new website is launched. Optimization ensures your site is well received by people who discover you while searching as well as search engines that index your content.
- Install Google Analytics and become familiar with the big picture of how it works.
- Verify the website in Search Console to monitor the health of your website and learn how users find your website organically.
- Create a robots.txt file and transfer it to the root directory of your website.
- Create a sitemap.xml file and submit it to Search Console to help Google index your website.
- Map old and new pages in advance to decrease the potential number of 404 pages.
- Make sure your website is responsive to all device types.
- Use 301 redirects to tell search engines whether they should go to www.yourwebsite.com or yourwebsite.com. Either location works - the key is to have only one and stick with that.
- Use SSL encryption as security becomes even more important to today’s searcher.
- Make a list of all products and services you offer. How would you describe them? How do potential customers and clients describe them? There may be a difference between your description and the customer's description of what you do so ensure your existing site content speaks to your customers. Incorporate these words naturally into your website copy.
- Include title tags, meta descriptions, and H1 tags that incorporate your targeted keywords.
- Make sure these tags are unique for each page.
- Do not automatically play videos when someone visits a site. You want to let users decide what to watch and this is especially important as more people are viewing websites on their mobile devices. Let them decide if your video will answer their question or if they simply need something as simple as a phone number from your website.
- Check if your key pages are accessible in under three clicks from the landing page. The deeper pages are in your navigation, the less importance Google assigns to them.
- When you link to internal pages, utilize one of the target keywords as your anchor rather than using non-descriptive terms such as “here”.
- Include content on every page. Strong images are helpful, but not enough for most pages. You should also have copy of a few hundred words.
- Add ALT tags to the pictures to help visually impaired customers identify your pictures as well as search engines. Since search engines cannot “see” your pictures, you need to include descriptive text.
- Remove plaintext email from the website and utilize contact forms instead to decrease the amount of spam you might receive.
- Include social sharing buttons to make it easy for your visitors to share your content with their network.
- Use SEO-friendly URLs that are short and easy to read.
- Check that your site is fast on all devices with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
- Create a Google My Business page through GYBO.com or update an existing page to highlight features on your new site.
- Sign up for Google alerts for your business name to see how people are discussing you online.
- Have a plan for updating site content. You need fresh content to keep Google and searchers interested in your business.
- Submit your site to relevant directories, such as DMOZ.
- Ensure your quality backlinks were not lost if it was a site re-design rather than a brand new website being launched.
- Stay current on Google algorithm changes that could impact your site. These impact ranking signals.
And remember that SEO is an ongoing process. Once your website is up and running, you want to continue adding fresh content, ensuring your site stays up-to-date and you stay on top of Google’s approach to search