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A new year is typically a time for reflection, and for thinking ahead to how you want to do things differently and better. People often resolve to get to the stuff they’ve been putting off.
Have you been putting off ensuring that your website’s SEO is up to snuff? Would you like to have a nice checklist to make sure you’re ready for 2018 from the SEO perspective? Let’s get right to it!
First Things First: A Clarifying Note About Clarity
Websites, especially at the enterprise level, are often a mish-mash of competing goals and outcomes on the part of various stakeholders such as product managers, VPs of Marketing, designers, content writers, and others.
Take a step back – and a deep breath – and have a few people who are not even part of your target market take a fresh look at your home page and give you their honest impressions. You are likely better off getting strangers to do this rather than coworkers or friends who may not be willing or able to provide you with the brutal honesty you really need here.
How clear is your messaging? How clear is your navigation? Is there a single, clear call to action? Or does the home page overwhelm and confuse people with too many choices, too many design elements?
Give those evaluators a single task to perform, preferably your most-desired outcome, and then observe without intervening. How easily can they perform the assigned task? You may find yourself biting your tongue as you scream in your head “The. button. is. right. there. How are you not seeing that??”
You and your team may be too close to your site to see that “your baby is ugly.” In the New Year, your first SEO resolution should be to pull off your blinders and see your site for what it really is – the good, the bad, the ugly. Resolve to make your site meet the needs of your target market, not the internal stakeholders.
Okay, now you’re ready for the SEO checklist.
The 3Q SEO Team 2018 Enterprise Website SEO Makeover Checklist
The following is not in any particular order. It’s not organized “by importance” or otherwise prioritized in any way. Why? Because you need to check each and every one of these items off as completed.
- We covered this above already, but just in case you’re one of those people who likes to skip ahead: how well does your website’s home page immediately and clearly communicate what you want the user to know and do?
- Title Tags: does each page on the site have a unique and relevant title tag?
- Meta Descriptions: does each page of the site have a unique and relevant meta description? Does it have a call to action or otherwise compel a searcher to click from Google’s search results?
- H1 page headline: does each page have a clear and concise headline that instantly resonates with the snippet a searcher saw in Google’s search results before they clicked?
- Page URLs: are they using keywords relevant to the page content, and are they properly structured (for example, not using underscores or mixed case in the URI string)?
- Images on your pages: are you using junky stock images that are only vaguely relevant to the page’s content? Or are you using unique images that are highly relevant and add to the user’s experience? Are images properly compressed and scaled?
- Image ALT attributes: are you making use of them and incorporating relevant keywords without being spammy or keyword-stuffy? Are important images missing the ALT attribute?
- Page content: when was it last updated? Is it super-relevant? Does it provide all the useful info and answer all the questions it should?
- Duplicate content: do you have any pages on your website that are duplicates of any other page on your website, and/or duplicates of other pages on other websites your company may have?
- Internal linking: are topically-related pages of content logically linked together in a way that’s useful to site visitors?
- Broken pages: are any of the links on your site leading to “404 page not found” error pages? (This is very frustrating to site visitors, and it wastes Link Equity – aka PageRank.)
The above covers a lot of basics in SEO, and just that could probably keep you busy for much of Q1 or even 2H 2018, especially if you haven’t really addressed this stuff recently.
But let’s keep going:
- Site navigation: is it easy to find, understand, and use?
- Breadcrumb navigation: if someone landed on any page of the site, would they be able to instantly figure out where they were in the site hierarchy?
- Clear call to action above the fold: do you have it? Are you sure?
- Trust signals: what are you doing to convey that people can trust you?
- Post-conversion clarity: are you telling people what will happen next if they fill out a form, click a link, or take some action you want them to take?
- HTML site map: are you providing a list of pages with links in case someone wanted to see a complete overview of your website so they can navigate easily if they desire to do so?
So far, we’ve talked a lot about your site, page, and content structure– here are some more items you need to check closely:
- Page speed: do your site pages load in a browser in less than 2-3 seconds?
- XML Sitemap: do you have one? When was the last time it was updated? Does it update dynamically? If not, why not?
- Robots.txt file: when was the last time you checked this? Are you sure it’s up to date and not blocking pages or sections that should be accessible to Google?
- Structured markup: have you implemented proper schema.org code?
- Mobile friendly: how are you handling this? Responsive design? Dynamic serving? Separate mobile pages?
- iFrames & Flash: this can present problems; are you sure you’re not experiencing those problems here? Can you phase those technologies out in favor of more-modern approaches?
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): have you carefully considered whether you should do AMP, and if so, how you’ll do it given your current tech stack and business objectives?
- Analytics tracking: when’s the last time you checked to ensure you have your analytics tracking tags deployed properly, and on each and every page of your site?
- Site search functionality: when’s the last time you tested this? Are the results junky, or are they accurate? Is your site search function sending user query data to your analytics platform?
- Redirects and redirect chains: this causes latency and loss of Link Equity; time to clean those up.
- https: attention enterprise businesses – if your site is not secure yet, it needs to be.
Is this an all-inclusive SEO checklist covering absolutely everything you need to know and do? No. Every website has its own particular goals, problems, target markets, technology stacks, and needs. That said, I’m 100% sure that if you use this checklist – and you’re honest and not just glossing over things – you’ll find plenty to improve in 2018.