SEO practices could be pretty exhaustive at times. There is usually tough competition and a constant need to be on top of Google search results.
We have compiled a checklist of SEO basics that you can use to check that your site is updated, following the necessary practices, and not facing any issues. You might be already covering all of these or some, either way, you could refer to it.
These points are quite basic but are necessary to effectively use a fruitful SEO strategy.
1. Set up Google Search Console and Bind Webmaster Tools
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are essential tools through which you can check which search terms and keywords users are using to find your website on the SERPs, recognise crawl errors, and submit sitemaps, among others.
Google Search Console gives you critical information about how your website is performing on Google. It also shares valuable data that you can effectively utilise to increase your website’s organic traffic and visibility.
You can use Bing Webmaster Tools, a similar platform for Bing, to see data and information for their search engine.
2. Set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics enables you to make smart decisions by giving you the free tools that you require to examine data for your business in one place.
It gives an understanding of your website and app users and you can go through how your content, products, and marketing are performing. You can see who are the people visiting your site, how many are visiting, and how they are accessing it.
To help you capitalise on the data you receive, you can use Google’s extraordinary insights and machine learning capabilities. Google Analytics operates with Google’s advertising and publisher products allowing you to use your insights in various ways to get the desired business results.
3. Install a dedicated SEO plugin
You might be new to WordPress or are already using it as your CMS. What you need to do is install an SEO plugin. These are small add-on software that upon installation give your website new features and functionality. This can help you optimise your website appropriately.
There are many plugins that particularly focus on improving your website’s SEO. According to your requirements, you can choose the plugin that is best for your website.
If you are not using WordPress, you can check with your developer regarding installing a dedicated SEO plugin or module.
4. Create and submit a sitemap
A sitemap is a list of URLs that state your website’s content so that search engines can crawl and index them.
Using a sitemap, you share details in a file about the video, pages, and other files on your website and how they are related to each other. When search engines read this file, they know how to better crawl your site. Through your sitemap you can tell Google which pages and files are important in your site and also share essential information about these files such as when the page was updated or any different language versions of a page.
XML is the most common sitemap format. There are many sitemaps generate tools that can give you an XML sitemap for your site.
After generating the sitemap, you must submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. You should also reference your sitemap in your robots.txt file.
5. Build a Robots.txt file
Your website’s robots.txt file informs search engine crawlers about the pages and files that the web crawlers can or cannot call for from your website.
Usually, this file is used to intercept the crawling of particular sections of your website. The objective is not to use it as a method to de-index a specific webpage and discontinue its appearance on Google.
You should have this file for your website and if you do not have it, we suggest you create it.
Many WordPress SEO plugins let users build and edit their robots.txt file. If you are using another CMS, there could be a possibility that you manually create this file. You can do it with the help of a text editor and then uploading the file to the root of your domain.
6. Scan Search Console for manual actions
This is usually an anomaly but sometimes due to manual action, your website can be negatively impacted. If a website has a manual action, either some part or whole of that website will be unavailable in Google search results.
Manual actions usually are attempts to manipulate the Google search index. It can vary from user-generated spam to hidden text to structured data issues. The majority of the sites are not impacted by a manual action and there are extremely rare chances that they would be in the future.
To be sure, you should check in the manual actions tab in your Google Search Console.
7. Ensure that Google can index your website
You must check that search engines can crawl and index your website. Sometimes, mistakenly from the development team, there could be issues of de-indexing of a website.
To check this, you must simply start a crawl in an audit tool. If it is blocked, crawling, and indexing your site would not be possible for search engines.
If you are already following this checklist for your website, then you are on the right path. If you need help with this, feel free to get in touch with us.