50+ Tips For Optimizing Your Website
The SEO Checklist
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Logged into Google Search Console, navigate to Settings (gear icon) > Google Analytics Property and connect your analytics to view Search Console data in Google Analytics.
Optional Now that you’ve set up Call Tracking, connect your Call Tracking platform with Google Analytics to great goals you can track. In CallTrackingMetrics, visit Settings > Integrations > Google Analytics > Settings to connect your Analytics. Then create an ‘Event’ goal in Google Analytics with the Category input set to ‘Calls’.
Ensure that your business’s Name, Address & Phone number (NAP) displayed on your website is consistent with your Google Business listing and all other online citations. Spelling inconsistencies and miss-matching phone numbers should be reconciled.
Organize your website content into logical hierarchies using header tags. Ensure one <h1> tag per page (typically this is the page title), and sub-categories of the content divided up by <h2>, and <h3>, <h4>, .etc beyond that.
Write a description ‘alt’ tag for every image on your website. These ‘alt’ image descriptions are read by browsers and Google alike and displayed if an image fails to load. A description of an image if it fails to load creates a positive user experience.
Ensure that your pages’ URLs are concise, but contain target keywords. Avoid being too long or spammy looking.
When appropriate, ensure that content on your webpages links to other pages of your website. Internal links create both a positive user experience and also gives Google a roadmap to the content hierarchy of your website–which may help prioritize certain pages in the SERPs.
Google penalizes content that is duplicated across the website. Ensure that your website is not duplicating content word-for-word from other parts of your website or from other websites. However, it’s okay if other websites are copying your content if your website is the original source.
Installing a blog is a great way to contribute content to your website that may not otherwise fit well into your site’s navigation. Content can organize chronologically or by categories and has the added SEO benefit of targeting long-tail keyword searches.
If you have social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc., consider linking to these accounts either in your header or footer global navigation.
Create a privacy statement that explains the ways in which your website gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer or client’s data. Link to this privacy statement in your site’s footer.
Ensure your images are saved with descriptive file names before uploading to your server. Avoid filenames like image00456.jpg in favor of descriptive filenames like city-skyline-dusk.jpg.
Large images sizes are one of the biggest culprits driving down your page load speed. Ensure your site’s images are compressed without noticeable sacrifice to picture quality. For WordPress users, I recommend using WP Smush Pro for an automated way to bulk compress your site’s images.Read Our Tutorial
Minifying your code will remove excess white spaces that aren’t integral for executing properly, increasing page load speed. For WordPress users, I recommend Hummingbird plugin to automagically minify your files.
Also, consider removing excess CSS code that is not being executed. Here is a good article on how to increase load time by finding and deleted unused CSS code.
A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like – a map of your website and the order of its pages. In order for engines like Google and Bing to index your site, they have automated crawling methods that check for all of the pages and store what they find. However, these methods aren’t perfect, so creating a sitemap to guide the indexing process helps to ensure that all of your pages are found and indexed correctly.
I currently use the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin for WordPress.
Once you have completed the Create a Sitemap section of The SEO Checklist, submit it to Google to ensure that your website is fully and correctly indexed.
Visit your Google Search Console Account > Select Your Website > Crawl on the left side bar > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap > Enter the Sitemap > Submit
Surprisingly, web hosting services aren’t required to backup your websites for you, so if something goes wrong, it’s on you. You can schedule times to backup manually, but I recommend using Updraft Plus for WordPress to set up automated weekly backups of all databases and files.
SCHEMA is a markup language you may add to your webpage that is read by all search engines to more accurately contextualize elements on a page. Think of SCHEMA as a common vocabulary to help identify things like author names, review ratings, dates, etc. For example, the review stars that you see under certain Amazon products in a Google search is SCHEMA at work.
To get started using SCHEMA, I recommend using Schema App.
This tool will generate structured data across all blog posts and your homepage for free. They also provide paid services to expand it across your whole site.
Ensure there is a language tag above the <head> of your website to ensure that Google is only serving your content to users that speak your target language. If your site is in English, confirm that the language tag <lang=”en-us”> is implemented on your site to prevent Google from serving your content to French speakers, for example.
Pro tip: If your website serves content in multiple languages, we recommend using the free WordPress plugin Polylang to manage all of the hreflang tags on a post-by-post basis.
A favicon is the small icon or logo that is commonly displayed in the tab on the top of browsers nect to the page’s title and next to bookmarks. Having a favicon shows your professionalism and differentiates your site from the users’ other open tabs or bookmarks. Favicons are typically 16×16 pixels and can be installed by being linked in the section of your HTML. There are even plenty easy-to-use favicon generators, so you don’t have to be graphic designer to create one.
Over time, you’re bound to overwrite some of the CSS selectors on your site. These unused selectors can have detrimental effects on your page’s load times and overall site speed. We recommend using the Audit section of the Developer’s Tools built into Google Chrome to find out which selectors you can remove.
Test that your website is mobile responsive using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Ensure your website is using responsive CSS coding to dynamically display the right layouts for varying size screens. Clickable elements, such as links, should be sized properly and with enough spacing to accommodate fingers.
Less optimal: If your root domain is not using responsive CSS and instead using a subdomain for mobile (ie. http://m.example.com), signal the relationship between two URLs by tag with rel=”canonical” and rel=”alternate” elements. Read more on using sub-domains has an alternative to responsive CSS here.
Citations & Directories
Search for your business on Bing Places for Business and click Claim. From there, you can manage all of your business’s information. You can also add your business if it isn’t already listed.
I recommend signing up for Moz Local who will automatically claim your Bing listing as well as other top-tier directories.
Improve local SEO by ensuring your businesses information is listed completely and accurately on many directory websites like yellowpages.com, yelp.com, foursquare.com, and more. I recommend using online services like MozLocal & Whitespark Citation Building for reasonably priced outsourcing.
HomeAdvisor is a digital market that includes homeowners with pre-selected local service professionals to complete home improvement, maintenance and remodeling projects.
You can click here to join their ‘Pro Network’ of local businesses!
Head over to Angie’s List Business Center to find your company by searching the name and zip code. Once you have found your business, select it and create your account for future use.
There are over 550 business categories, but among the most popular are home remodeling, roofing, plumbing, and medical services.
Thumbtack is a great resource for you to get leads and clients as well as build backlinks to your site. Fill out the questionnaire at Thumbtack Join as a Pro to get your business listed.
Thumbtack has many different industries, but a few notable ones are photography/videography and health-related services such as physical therapy.
By sponsoring a local sports team, charity, or other nonprofit organization, you have a chance to gain a link while making an impact in the community. Additionally, you may find that organizations that you already sponsor may not be linking to you, but are willing to if you just ask.
A great way to get links is to find any mentions of your brand on the web and ask the author to link the branded text back to your site. However, be careful how you word your email because they don’t have to link to you, even if it’s a direct quote.
Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer is a good tool to find any existing mentions of your brand on the internet.
I recommend using a blog directory such as Best of the Web Blogs or Blog Search Engine to discover local blogs, forums, and subreddits to become active on. Ensure that your contributions are genuinely useful and don’t come off as overly promotional or as blatant advertisement for your business. On the other hand, encourage these niche and local blog owners to link back to your website where relevant. Keep systems and schedules that ensure you are regularly discovering and checking in on local niche bloggers.
Creating linkable content is all about creating value. If you create a truly valuable asset, links will happen more organically and you’ll have a mutually beneficial reason to outreach for backlinks. Similarly to the Niche Infographic section of The SEO Checklist, strive to create a blog post/checklist/how-to guide/etc. that is unique in its design, voice, information, accessibility, or aggregation.
Many news stories require expert testimonies or interviews when they’re based around a very specific subject. Being an expert that can be quoted in the article may likely earn you additional exposure and possibly a link through the publication. PR Newswire’s Profnet is a paid membership in which you can register yourself as an expert and have the media come to you if a big story breaks in your area of expertise.
The sites that are linking to your competitors may also be willing to link to you. I recommend using Moz’s Open Site Explorer Tool to discover every site and directory that links back to your competition. With a list of those domains and webpages, you’ll be able to comb through individually and consider whether your business could also get links on these sites – even if it means reaching out directly to their authors and webmasters.
Social bookmarking sites such as Reddit, Digg, and StumbleUpon are websites that allow user created content. Because the content is user generated, businesses have the ability to post backlinks to their own site. Therefore, the SEO impact of social bookmarking has unquestionably gone down in the past few years. It’s best to just become an active user on the sites related to your company’s niche and drop a link to your site only when it will add genuine value and won’t be seen as spammy or overly promotional.
Barnacle SEO is all about latching your brand to the already-established sites for the top keywords in your industry. You can do this by offering free resources to include on their page such as images, videos, or an infographic.
.Edu websites are a highly trusted source of backlinks. If you have a passion for speaking, donating, or contributing in other ways to your alma mater as an alumnus, research the ways in which you can become involved that would earn you a link on the university’s website.
By creating a useful and shareable infographic about a specific topic, you’re creating a linkable asset that may generate links as well as grow exposure through new audiences. Outreach and share your infographic to niche blogs, subreddits, or news organizations that would find your infographic valuable.
Join the discussion by posting comments on related blogs, forums, and subreddits, including a link back to your site. Tread carefully with this tactic as it can be frowned upon and viewed as spammy on certain sites. Make sure that you’re on-topic with your comment and don’t come off as self-promoting or advertising. If your comment comes off that way, there’s a chance that it will be deleted by moderators.
Just like you understand the value of testimonials for your business, other companies do too. That’s why reaching out to provide a testimonial for a product or service that you use may ultimately lead to a feature or link on their website. If you’re going to write a testimonial, take the time to write one that speaks to the entire customer journey. A high-value testimonial like this will add more value to their business and will increase the likelihood of your testimonial being featured.
Broken links not only lead to ranking issues, but they also create a poor user experience. Find and fix all of the broken links on your site as well as all of the external sites that are linking to you.
Reviews & Reputation
If you’re following the SEO Checklist in order (you should be), then you’ve already created accounts for many review sites such as Google Business, Yelp Business, and Angie’s List. So, now it’s time to start getting some reviews! This can be done by simply asking your customers for reviews and making it as easy as possible. Ideally, direct your customer to a quick link or on-site widget through a follow-up email or SMS.
If you are incentivizing your customers to review your business, only ask for honest testimonials and don’t manipulate customers into writing only positive reviews. That’s not cool.
While it may be tempting to focus just on the positive reviews for your business, ensure that you respond to every review that you receive, including the negative ones. Responding to all reviews shows your professionalism to potential customers and gives you a chance to address any mistakes or issues that may have caused the bad review.
Head over to Facebook Business > Create a Page > select your business type > fill out form > Get Started. Easy as that. Your page is now completed and you can start posting away!
Invite your friends, family, and past customers to follow your page. Only use this platform to share valuable content and avoid being overly spammy or self-promotional or people may unfollow you.
Download the Instagram app on your iPhone or Android. Since Facebook owns Instagram, you have the option to sign up with your Facebook account, but I recommend using your business email as this will be your company’s account. Sign up with a phone number or email > enter email address > enter business name and password > create username > add profile picture. You’re all set to start sharing amazing photos and videos!
Pro tip: Instagram users are very discerning and critical of low-quality content. As a general rule, if the content isn’t extremely high quality, best not post it at all.
Foursquare is an online directory that lists businesses and allows customers to check-in and share their location with friends in real time.
Instead of customizing or editing core files of your WordPress site (like functions.php, header.php, or style.css), use a Child Theme to prevent conflicts within your code that may occur while updating to newer versions of your theme, WordPress, or plugins. A Child Theme uses duplicated files from your Parent Theme that don’t get overwritten during an update. This means that all of your hard work and customization won’t be lost.
Having the copyright year of your website updated is crucial to showing users that you own the material and that the site is routinely updated. Make sure that the year is updated. If someone else does these tasks for you, reach out to them.
It’s an easy, yet very important change to make.
This can, and should, be done automatically with a little bit of coding. I simply put “Copyright © <?php echo date(“Y”); ?>” into the footer.php to ensure that it will be changed every year without having to manually do it.
Monthly & Recurring Tasks
Ensure that you’re running the latest version of your CMS platform (i.e. WordPress). Updating from an outdated version may improve your site security and reduce any potential conflicts with plugins. Many platforms will notify you when a new version is available, so log into your dashboard and follow the prompts to update.
Note: Updating your platform may cause conflicts with any customized plugins or theme, so backup your website and database before updating.
More coming soon.
Updating outdated plugins may improve your site security and reduce any potential conflicts with your platform or theme.
Note: Be aware that updating a plugin may overwrite any customization made to that plugin.
More coming soon.
Keeping the backend of your site clean makes it easier to manage and improves site speed, so schedule regular intervals to review and delete unused plugins and themes.
Sometimes an idea just doesn’t work out and you’re stuck with the remnants in the form of a draft. These can add up fast and may clutter the backend of your website. Go through your drafts, ensure you won’t want or need them in the future before deleting them. Who knows, maybe there’s a hidden gem in one of your drafts that you simply forgot about.
A high bounce rate on a page is a red flag that something may be wrong with how the page loads or that the content isn’t matching users’ expectations. I recommend visiting Google Analytics > Behavior > Overview > view full report to review your highest trafficked pages and compare their bounce rates to look for red flags.
Broken internal links are hyperlinks on your website that for whatever reason no longer correctly link to their intended page.
Often this happens when a page that is linked to gets deleted or the URL structure changes. I’m sure you understand why broken links are bad – they negatively affect both SEO and conversion rate. So, it’s best practices to regularly check for and fix broken internal links. This can be done manually, but I recommend using one of the many online broken link checkers like Atomseo’s Tool or Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider.
Assuming that you have a blog with a comment section, there’s a high chance that you’ll get spam comments. Review your articles’ comments and ensure that users aren’t just trying to drop a link to their site. Not all comments with links are spam, though. Use your best judgment to determine if the comment and link are on-topic and add value to your article.
Your database stores all of your website’s content, settings, form entries, and much more. Over time and after a lot of updates, your database can grow very large, causing detrimental effects on your website’s load time and overall performance. To combat this, constantly optimize your database to reduce the size and get rid of uneccessary content or settings.
Continually check your website using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. This is especially important whenever you make changes to your site. Set up a recurring reminder on your calendar to check the mobile friendliness of your site as well as checking after changes to ensure your users are seeing what you want them to see.
With so many different size phones and tablets out there, it can be difficult to ensure your website displays properly on all screens. I recommend dragging the width of your browser to different sizes to quickly check responsiveness across different device widths.
Over time, you’ll change which widgets you actually use and want on the backend of your site. Simply keeping them visible causes a lot of clutter and can actually cause some loss in performance. It’s a good idea to go through periodically and delete the widgets that you don’t use anymore. We recommend using a plugin for WordPress like the Remove Inactive Widgets Plugin.