A Start-up 4 Point Checklist for Your Website’s SEO
We know that most (if not all) of Forge Online’s clients want their website to appear in Google search. That’s exactly why we include a two-hour SEO transition step into the launch phase of every single website we build and set live. We set up sitemap files, check SEO readiness and submit the new site directly to Google via Google Search Console, plus we check that all systems are functioning as they should. We even add Google Analytics to your website, even if you don’t actively monitor it yourself. We can share that data with you any time you want to see it. Do these things help your website in the right direction? Absolutely, yes. Is it all of the possible SEO work you could do on your website? Not by a long shot, no.
SEO involves getting as many of your ‘ducks’ in a row as you possibly can, and also have a plan to build on that in the long term. Your website texts are by far the most influential element of your site’s SEO capability. So long as your site has lots of great content, it’s likely to do reasonably well just because of that. But that might not give you the edge that takes you ahead of your competitors in Google search!
A while ago, Google informed the world that there were around 200 different factors that determine where a website will get ranked in their search engine. Google won’t tell us exactly what they are, but they give some very strong hints. We listened and started researching as many of the factors we could discover. It’s from that research and discovery that we’ve concluded that the science of Search Engine Optimisation is very complex and that it takes many hours of work to put into place. Not only that, but when you think you’ve finished, and you have done all you can, we know that there is almost always something more you can do, or even re-do. It’s a never-ending story. It also means that without specialised skills and training, it’s unlikely that most business owners will be able to dedicate time to it.
If your business relies very heavily on the performance of your website to generate leads or income, then it’s very likely you need SEO. If your business is large enough to accommodate a dedicated in-house person to manage that for you, we recommend that as an option. For most SMEs however, having someone dedicated to SEO on their team is just not affordable. That’s when your SEO should get outsourced to someone you trust and can prove they’re up for the task. Local suppliers are always your best choice, because they understand the conditions of operating a business in the local market, they speak your language, and you can even go to meet them in a face-to-face consult.
Regrettably, some businesses just don’t have the budget to invest in any marketing at all, or some decide that search engine marketing fits into the ‘too hard basket’.
That’s prompted us to create this SEO checklist. We think you’ll find it helpful in figuring out what sorts of things you should do to optimise your website, and we want our clients to be successful, even if they never hire us to do this kind of work for them. We believe in giving away great advice for free. You trusted us with building your website. You deserve the best advice we can give you.
Top Tip: SEO is always a work-in-progress. If your website is brand new, never delay a launch because of SEO. It’s better to launch and work on it while live, than to put it off until you’ve done all you can.
So here’s the top 4 steps we know you should get sorted to get your website competitively ranked*.
Ensure your website has plenty of great text content. You want your website to perform better than the site ranked ahead of you, so be prepared to write! The content should be:
- Interesting to read
- In enough volume to keep other people (not yourself) engaged
- Be completely on-topic and not talk about things that are not directly related to your business
- All of the above should be better than what your rank-competitor* in Google has.
*A rank-competitor is a website that ranks ahead of yours for a search relating to your business. It’s not necessarily your direct business competitor.
For every landing page** in your website, you need to have these elements put in place:
- A Page Title that’s designed to appear in Google search – the blue/purple text title.
- A description snippet (META) designed to show up in Google search as the black text.
The Page Title element cannot be longer than about 60 letters and spaces. Take a look in Google search to see what happens to ones that are too long (the end gets chopped off!).
The META description should be between 120 and 155 letters and spaces long, and should contain a benefit statement e.g. “get your first hour consultation free”, and also a call to action: “visit for more info”, or “call 09 302 0447 now to book”. The same happens with long descriptions as does with long titles. Chop!
Add these pieces of content to the relevant page in the Yoast SEO META box inside your website.
** A landing page is any page in your website where you use your key sales elements like a Unique Selling Proposition, Call to Action, Benefits etc and is designed to convert the visitor into a customer. Great examples of landing pages are usually: “home”, “services”, “products”, “categories”. These pages are designed to handle the business task. There might be other pages in your website like “about us” and “contact us” but their job is to provide more information or point of contact.
For all of the images in your website, add an ALT description. This is a short description of the content in the image (and we are assuming your image has something about your business in it!). It should have a keyword in it for the page in which the image appears. You can manage that from the Media menu in your WordPress website backend. Click on the image and add the ALT in the editor.
Image ALTs for images on a page about “kitchen appliances” should have the ALT set to include the words “kitchen appliances” and be a picture of kitchen appliances. The ALT is designed to show up when images have not loaded for some reason, but they count towards SEO.
Start sharing your web pages on social media channels and adding your website to trusted business directories like Finda and Yellow Pages.