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Here’s the Only SEO Checklist You Need in 2021

A lot has changed over the past 18 months, but one thing that hasn’t is the importance of a good SEO campaign.

When executed properly, a successful SEO campaign can make it easier for you to be found online. It can help you reach out to new potential customers, re-engage with existing potential customers at different parts of the sales cycle, and generate more quality leads from the right people.

Most importantly, a good SEO campaign is far more cost-effective than other forms of digital marketing, such as PPC campaigns. Why? Because you don’t have to pay anything each time a potential customer clicks on your website from a search engine. And the best part is, you can continue to reap the rewards of a good SEO campaign for months, possibly years to come, with minimal maintenance on your end.

With that being said, there is still a lot you can do to improve the effectiveness of your SEO campaign. These range from making your website easier to crawl, optimising your content and web sales copy, installing new plugins for your CMS, and even taking the necessary steps to improve your website loading times.

All of these things are crucial ranking factors, and taking the time to make sure your website ticks all the right boxes can really make a positive difference to your SEO efforts.

So, without further ado, here are 30 quick and easy ways to optimise your website for SEO in 2021 and beyond.

1. Install SEO plugins

The first step to improving your SEO campaign is to install at least one SEO plugin with your CMS. Your CMS is your Content Management System, the platform you use to manage your website. WordPress is a good example of a CMS.

Regardless of which CMS you use, it’s easy to install plugins. Plugins enhance the existing capabilities of your website. They enable you to incorporate new features into your website, gain deeper insights in terms of its performance and visibility, integrate social media features, and heaps more.

For the purpose of this guide, though, we’re just going to focus on SEO. And if you use WordPress, you have a lot of SEO plugins to choose from. One of the most popular SEO plugins is Yoast SEO, which has been around since 2008.

Yoast has a range of in-built features designed to help you improve your SEO efforts. It can help you write Meta Descriptions, make your paragraphs easier to read, monitor your keyword usage density, and even test the readability of your content by using the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale.

Overall, Yoast SEO is a convenient way to get on top of your most basic SEO tasks, and there’s even a paid premium version that offers even more features.

Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO

2. Improve your website loading speed

In recent years, Google has begun to prioritise the importance of fast-loading websites.

Why? Because, if a visitor has to wait around too long to view your content, they will simply leave. Google recognises this so they penalise websites that take too long to load. They don’t want to recommend websites that fail to satisfy the user’s search intent in a timely manner.

For this reason, it’s crucial that you optimise your website’s loading speeds. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do about this. And they won’t take up much of your time, either.

Here are some of the most effective ways to improve your website loading times:

  • Use JPEGs instead of PNGs for your website’s images, as JPEGs feature a built-in compression algorithm to help reduce the file size without compromising on image quality.
  • Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to make your website faster to load regardless of where the visitor is located in the world. CDNs essentially create copies of your website, and store them at multiple geographically diverse data centres around the world. This means that, no matter where a visitor is located in the world, the data from your website won’t have to travel far in order to reach the visitor.
  • Install a caching plugin like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache in your CMS. These plugins work by instructing the server to store data on a visitor’s hard drive or RAM each time they visit a new page. Then, when the visitor visits the same page again, they won’t have to load all the data from the server again. This approach is much faster, and will result in overall faster loading times.

For a more comprehensive overview on this topic, learn ‘How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website in 20 Minutes.’

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3. Make sure Google can easily crawl and index your website

Crawling is the process of Google collecting information about your website, transferring the data back to their servers, and then indexing your website so that it’s easier to find in Google search.

Google’s crawling process involves drawing from a list of web addresses with past crawls and sitemaps provided by web owners. The crawlers then visit each website and use the links on those sites to discover other pages.

Google’s crawling technology is sophisticated enough to detect new websites, changes in existing websites, and dead links. So their index library is frequently updated to ensure they provide the most up-to-date search results.

But how do you make it easier for Google to crawl and index your website? Here are a few ways:

  • Make sure all internal and internal links are working properly
  • Insert internal links in a way that improves the user experience
  • Remove any pages from your website that add little to no value to the user experience
  • Update pages with outdated or irrelevant content
  • Continue to update your website with new, fresh, original, and engaging content that your audience will want to read and share

4. Define any web pages you don’t want to be indexed

As a continuation of the previous point, there is another way to improve your ‘crawlability.’

But this involves a technique that may at first sound at odds with the rest of the advice. In some cases, you may want to keep certain pages on your website, but also instruct Google to not index these pages.

There are many reasons why you may not want Google to recommend these pages.

For example, if you have recently launched a landing page for the purpose of marketing a particular product or service, you may only want the page to target a very specific audience – such as a group of newsletter subscribers. You may not want low-quality prospects coming to your landing page and taking up unnecessary bandwidth.

You may even want to protect certain sales techniques, formulas, and phrases you’re using to promote your products and services.

But how do you instruct Google to not index certain pages? Simple. All you need to do is find your website robots.txt file. This is a special file you can edit, so as to instruct Google on what pages they can and cannot index. To find your robots.txt file, simply follow this specific formula:

https://www.domain.com/robots.txt

From there, you can outline which pages Google can and cannot index, based on your personal preferences.

If you have a WordPress website, you can also use SEO plugins to create and modify your robots.txt file. These plugins can streamline the process for you, and make it easier to update your robots.txt file on a regular basis.

Robots.txt
Yoast SEO Tools

5. Target your main keywords

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of your SEO campaign. It involves using various digital tools to find out what keywords and phrases your potential customers are using to find your products and services.

Many of these tools are free to use, and each of them provide a wealth of valuable insight, by showing you how different people use platforms like Google to find what they are looking for online.

Some of the most popular keyword research tools include Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush and WordStream, to name a few.

How these tools work is simple. There are a number of different approaches you can take to find the right keywords for you.

You can simply type a few random words and phrases into the search bar, and the platform will display relevant information to you, such as monthly search volume, competitiveness (how difficult it is to rank for that particular keyword or phrase), and even forecasts for how they could perform in the future.

A more efficient way to find your main keywords is to use the platform’s proprietary discovery tool.

Here, the platform will collect various bits of information from you, and then use it to recommend the most suitable keywords for you. The platform may ask what industry you’re involved in, the products and services you offer, your current location, and the URL domain you wish to rank for. Some platforms may request more or less information based on how comprehensive the keyword research tool is.

From there, the platform will recommend several relevant keywords and phrases for you.

6. Target both head keywords and long-tail keywords

But how do you choose the right keywords? There are two types of keywords to look for: head keywords, and long-tail keywords.

Head keywords are typically short words and phrases that people use during the early stage of the buying cycle.

For example, for a customer searching for running shoes, an example of a head keyword would be ‘running shoes.’ The customer knows they want running shoes, but they don’t know what type of running shoes they want, what brand, what size, and what price they’re willing to pay for.

These people are still in the early discovery phase, so they’re very unlikely to buy. However, they are willing to read about the products they’re looking for. They’re probably going to read lots of technical information and reviews, watch YouTube videos, and compare different products.

This is where you come in.

By targeting these head keywords, and creating pages that offer lots of useful, relevant, and helpful information – for example, by publishing blog posts – you’ll increase the odds of generating trust with your potential customers.

From there, the keywords and phrases your potential customer uses will gradually get longer. They’ll go from searching for ‘running shoes’ to searching for ‘mens air jordans size 8.’ If you target these long-tail keywords, this means you’ll increase the odds of appearing on their radar not just once but twice.

Therefore, targeting both head and long-tail keywords is an effective way to establish trust early, and then guide the customer through the sales cycle in order to make an informed purchase.

Ahrefs Head Keywords and Long Tail Keywords
Ahrefs Head Keywords and Long-tail Keywords

7. Define the search intent of well-ranking pages

Understanding why your visitors are searching for certain products and services is the key to gaining their trust.

After all, you’re not just in business to make money, but to make a positive impact on people’s lives. For this reason, if you’re going to achieve this ambitious goal, you have to know what people want. And that involves making sure your pages match the search intent of the visitor.

Take this example. Let’s say you want to renovate your room. You type ‘home renovation builder’ into Google. The first page that pops up appears promising, so you click on it. But you then discover the page is a full-length article on what to look for in a home renovation builder. However, at this stage, you know what you want, so you don’t need to read it.

From there, you revert back to Google and click on the second result. This one is much better! It’s a landing page for a local home renovation builder in your area. The page outlines who the company is, what they do, the kind of processes they go through, and how to contact them. Satisfied that you’ve found the perfect match, you go ahead and reach out to them.

Since Google is incredibly smart, it knows when a website has satisfied a person’s search intent.

How? Because the visitor either:

1) Stops visiting other websites related to that search term, or

2) Responds to a specific ‘call to action’ on the website (i.e. Book your appointment now!). There are a few other ways that Google knows when a website has done its job, but these are the two most common.

With this in mind, Google then knows to recommend this site to more people in the future, so it bumps the website higher up the search engine results page.

These are 7 of the most effective ways to improve the effectiveness of your SEO campaign.

Did you find these tips useful?

If so, and you’d like to learn about our SEO and digital marketing services, contact us today. We’d love to talk about your online marketing goals and devise a custom strategy tailored for you.

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