Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, isn’t something that you can master within the span of a single blog post. There are, however, some general guidelines that you can use as a reference point or checklist to make sure you’re taking the right steps with your website.
This article is designed to offer you an SEO checklist for small businesses to follow in 2021.
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1. Basic SEO Setup
The first thing every new website needs to do is make sure the major search engines, such as Google and Bing, know your site exists. Doing so will not only ensure that the search engines regularly check your site for new content and relevant information to present to your audience, but it can also provide you with a method for analyzing and improving your online efforts over time.
At the bare minimum, we suggest registering with the following SEO tools:
You will also want to submit a sitemap of your website to the relevant search engines. Sitemaps update automatically as you add new pages and content to your website, providing all the necessary information to web crawlers to make sure the most up-to-date, relevant content is available to be found when users search.
2. On Page SEO Factors
There are small ways you can improve your SEO with every page on your website. If you have a well-researched keyword strategy, you should have a list of long-tail keywords you want your website to rank for.
There are many ways you can work these keywords into your on-page SEO without resorting to ineffective, outdated tactics like keyword stuffing. Consider adding keywords to these locations within each page:
- Page title
- Page URL
- Headings and heading tags (H1, H2…H8, etc.)
- Image alt text
- Meta description
3. Structured Data
Structured data, or schema markup, is a way to help search engines better understand how to present the information and content on your website to web users in search results.
Structured data can be used to highlight recipes, event schedules, product details, and many more important pieces of information.
Sites with structured data in place are often prioritised in specific types of searches because the information is clear, concise, and easily displayed, improving the search experience.
4. Off Page SEO Factors
Off-page SEO is any marketing that you do off your website that helps direct traffic to your website. There are a nearly unlimited number of ways you can put off-page SEO services to use for your business, and here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Seek out backlinks, external websites that include a link to your website on their webpage
- Utilise social media
- Create a digital PR strategy
- Register for directories, particularly Google My Business for local SEO
- Share useful content on sites like Medium, Quora, or Reddit and link back to your site
5. Keyword Research for SEO
Understanding how and when to incorporate SEO into your website is only useful if you are optimising for keywords that are being actively searched for.
Conducting strategic keyword research can help you identify your competitors, discover gaps in content that you have the opportunity to fill, and choose which keywords are worth putting the effort into optimising for.
It is very common to want to rank in Google for everything even closely associated with your business, but a much more effective strategy is to decide what keywords are the most important to you, which keywords will be the easiest vs most difficult to gain the attention of the search engines for, and then finding a sweet spot to focus on.
As your site authority grows, so can you expand the number of keywords you want to rank for.
Understanding the best tools to use for keyword research as well as knowing the value of long-tail keywords and other competitive strategies are very important to effective keyword research for SEO.
6. Tracking Your Progress
If you want to be sure that your efforts are paying off, it is a good idea to install tracking codes and plugins that can help you monitor your online presence over time.
Google Analytics is a tool that allows you to analyze your website data over time, according to how Google users find and interact with your website.
For any website, you can install a tracking code into the source code of your website itself. If you have built using WordPress, you can install a plugin that will use the Google Analytics tracking code to monitor your website in harmony with Analytics itself.
7. Technical SEO Factors
Choosing the right keywords to optimise for and understanding how to present them in your website content is highly important, but not the only factors that influence your SEO.
Your website much not only be relevant but also efficient and safe. Google and other search engines want to present the best quality website to searchers. This means giving priority to websites that are trustworthy, fast, and organised, among other factors.
A few ways you can improve your SEO from a more technical point of view are:
- Using https encryption
- Having a mobile-friendly, responsive website
- Fixing all crawl errors as quickly as possibly
- Ensuring your website and all the images or other media load quickly
- Addressing any broken links, both internally and externally
There are many more factors in technical SEO, but those are a few of the most important to focus on and keep track of consistently.
8. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals encompass three search signals that Google uses to evaluate a user’s overall experience of a website. These core, vital factors include:
- Largest Contentful Paint: LCP is the amount of time it takes to display the largest element on a web page, usually a video or an image
- First Input Delay: FID represents the amount of time between when a user clicks on your link from a search engine until the time when your content is displayed for them.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: CLS measures how much and how often aspects of your website layout shift unexpectedly
Speed, it seems, is a critical factor in a user’s online experience. If a website doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for these factors, its search visibility is likely to be negatively affected.
SEO Plans for Small Businesses
This is far from an exhaustive list, and even this basic SEO Checklist 2021 may sound a bit overwhelming if you’re new to search engine optimisation. Riordan SEO can help. While you concentrate on establishing the best small business you can build, we can help make sure your best is accurately reflected in your online presence.