We know you are probably a busy business owner or a fellow SEO Agency, so this blog will be concise.
Here are 24 actionable steps you can implement today to boost your website’s performance.
Get SSL Certificate
What is an SSL Certificate?
A Secure Sockets Layer certificate (SSL Certificate) protects your website visitors and customers by encrypting all transmitted data. When it is installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.
When are they used?
They are mainly used to secure credit card transactions, logins, data transfers but they are now good practise for any website on the web.
How do I get an SSL Certificate?
You should be able to gain an SSL certificate free from your website host, but if not, then we recommend you purchase one.
What is Yoast?
Yoast is an all-in-one WordPress SEO plugin powerhouse that is simple to use yet, probably the most efficient to use. It makes editing, previewing and optimising content very easy.
How do I get Yoast?
Yoast is completely free. You just need to download, install and you are good to go!
Download Link: Yoast
There are a few different version of Yoast as follows:
Yoast Premium – more advance features to help you optimise
Local SEO – helping to optimise specifically for geographical areas
Video SEO – optimising videos to get to the first page of Google
News SEO – indexing blog articles straight away into Google News
Yoast WooCommerce – optimising products to help them rank higher
Overall Yoast helps a lot, it tidies up a lot of loose ends that most people would forget about so it is an essential plugin for any WordPress website. It also stops you worrying about Schema Data.
Research Target Keywords
Make sure you take a look at your competitors, using SEMrush can be beneficial when taking a deep look into your competitors. You can view their estimated traffic, view their traffic and you can see their backlinks.
Type into Google your competitor’s name, or a keyword you wish to target and perform a basic audit. Open up a spreadsheet and type in their meta title, description and landing page URL. Find out the number of words on their page, use this word count tool. This tool also allows you to see the most frequently used words on the page, this is useful to give you an idea of which other keywords they are targeting.
Make a list of the top 5 results, review them and use them as a guide when creating content for your own page.
What is an XML Sitemap?
Essentially, a sitemap guides Google to all of the important content on your website.
How do I make a Sitemap?
Once you have installed the plugin Yoast, follow these steps:
- Locate the menu on the left-hand side and click where it says SEO
- Once you have clicked that, a menu will expand and then click General
- Click on the Features tab
- Change the XML Sitemaps to on
- Save your changes
Google Search Console
What is Google Search Console?
This is a free service offered by Google to help website owners, business owners, marketers and web developers. It enables you to monitor your search presence, how well you are performing for certain keywords, as well as flagging up any crawl issues. Once you have created a sitemap you need to submit it to Google so it can read your website.
How to Setup Google Search Console
- Sign up to Search Console https://www.google.com/webmasters/
- Click Add A Property
- Type in your website URL, be sure to include HTTP or https depending which you are using. Then click the blue button Add
- Click then “Alternate Methods”, click HTML tag
- Copy the highlighted code only
- Go back to the General settings in Yoast
- Click Webmaster tools tab
- Paste code into Google verification code box
- Switch back to Search Console, and click Verify
How to Submit a Sitemap to Google Search Console (Please refer to the Previous step if you do not have a Sitemap already)
- On your Search Console homepage, select your website
- On the left-hand menu, click Crawl -> Sitemaps
- In the top right-hand side, click Add/Test Sitemap
- Enter “XML” in the text box that appears after your URL and you are all set!
Install Google Analytics
The importance of knowing your audience is paramount to the success of any website. Google Analytics is a tool in which you can monitor the volume of traffic to your website as well as to discover other metrics such as acquisition and time spent on page. Google Analytics is also free! There is no reason not to use it.
How to Setup Google Analytics (The easiest way)
- To get started, log into your Google account and sign up for Google Analytics
- On the next screen, make sure you select website instead of app and fill in your details
- Once you have entered your information, click Get Tracking ID, you will be presented with Google’s terms and conditions. You must agree before moving forward.
- Now you have the tracking code, open up a new tab and head to your WordPress dashboard.
- Install and activate the plugin Tracking Code Manager
- Once Tracking Code Manager has been installed, navigate to Settings -> Tracking Code Manager
- Click Add new Tracking Code
- Name your tag and then paste the tracking code from Google
- Ensure that the settings under the box read Before </HEAD> and [All]
- Click save
Google My Business
People must be able to find you. Even if you are an online business, people like to have the peace of mind that they are dealing with a legitimate company. Not using Google My Business when you are a local business is very bad practise as users who do localised searches will never find you.
How to Setup Google My Business
Simply follow the instructions at https://www.google.co.in/intl/en/business/
It is surprising the number of websites who make it difficult for users to find the contact information. There should be at least one dedicated page detailing how people can contact you including your social media links. As a bonus, include your contact information in the footer of your website so that the details are consistent.
Google themselves have announced that page speed is a ranking factor, a slow website provides a weak user experience therefore it is essential that your website is fast and responsive to every device. Google now carries out Mobile-First indexing so it is important that your website meets the requirements of Google.
According to HubSpot, a 1-second delay means a 7% reduction in conversions.
- Enable AMP
What is AMP?
Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open source idea which is supported by technology companies like Google and Twitter. In essence, it helps load a lightweight version of web pages on mobiles. They are designed for users who want to read content-heavy pages and want them to load quickly, such as a blog or news story.
It is not advisable to install AMP on regular pages because AMP removes as many features as possible to make it lightweight. Features such as popup boxes or CSS animations will not be the same!
How do I install AMP?
First of all, Download and Install the AMP Plugin for your WordPress website.
Then Activate the plugin, head to Appearance -> AMP and you will see what your website will look like on AMP. Play around with the settings in here and get the colours to match what you would like.
Here is what a blog article looks like for us:
If you want to double check to see if your website has been submitted to Google correctly you can check in Webmaster Tools.
Click on your property the go-to Search Appearance -> Accelerated Mobile Pages
Here is what AMP looks like in search results
- Compressing images
High-quality images take up a lot of memory, therefore, it slows down the page load time significantly. By using Smush.it you do not compromise image quality, just the size of the files.
- Leveraging browser caching
Plugin: WP Fastest Cache
- Switching to a faster web hosting provider
If you are using a host such as GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost or anything similar that is cheap, your website will be hosted along with hundreds of websites if not thousands! This not only effects your website load speed but if there are ever any issues, then it can be difficult to get an answer quickly which wastes you time as well. We provide web hosting where you aren’t sharing a server with thousands of other users and our website hosting team are responsive around the clock to ensure that everything is running smoothly on your site.
Our web hosting solution: Website Hosting and Maintenance by Fly High Media
- Disabling unused plugins
Plugins can be very code, so if there are unused plugins then disable them. It can speed up the browsing experience for the user and can free up space for more plugins that you actually need. Use WP Profiler to find which plugins are taking up space and then disable ones that you don’t use.
Plugin: P3 Profiler
- Disabling large images on Mobile
Although smartphones are powerful, they still do not have the processing power of a computer. Smartphones may be used outside of WiFi zones, which means it could be slower for the website to load than normal. Disabling images makes the website a smaller page size, but also images can get in the way of reading depending on the screen size.
Title tags and meta descriptions
Not providing good title tags and meta descriptions will have an impact on your website’s performance. You must include your keyword at least once in both your title and meta description. The sentences must flow properly and cannot be “keyword stuffed”. Be sure to use appropriate H1, H2, H3 tags, etc. You must make sure that every single page that you are indexing has a title and meta description if you wish to get ranked.
On any images make sure that you are using ALT tags, these are important for screen readers. In case a user is visually impaired, then a third party app can read what the image is and speak it out loud to the user.
Content, content, content! Good content is paramount to the success of every website whatever industry you are in. Including the right features, copy, images and video all help getting your message across.
Good quality blog posts, build rapport and can bring in good search engine rankings and qualified traffic to your website. You have probably spent a lot of time, effort and money getting your website looking good, now it’s time to drive some inbound traffic.
When you are writing pages or blog posts, be sure to link to other pages within your website. This will help users discover new pages and therefore make them stay on the website longer. When Google crawls your website it wants to see a website flowing clearly, linking the webpages internally helps the flow.
As best practise, we always use external links when writing blog articles. It provides a well-rounded researched article for the reader, it is also to helps other similar websites on the web.
As previously mentioned in the content section, blogging is a great way to get traffic to your website and it’s free to post to your website! You may hire a copywriter if you are time poor or not comfortable writing. If you research your articles well before you write and follow this checklist while you are planning what to write, you can gain some organic traffic for competitive keywords.
This is usually a long process, but nevertheless a vital part of ranking your site in Google. A way to get quick, white hat backlinks is to register for as many relevant industry directories as possible. If you are in a network or chamber of commerce make sure your website is listed in their directory.
Once you are listed in directories, you can start to reach out to other relevant websites and look for guest blogging opportunities.
Another way to link build is to use the skyscraper technique. This was created by Brian Dean at Backlinko.com.
Here’s how it works:
- Go to BuzzSumo.
- Type in a topic within your industry.
- Find an article that you like the sound of.
- Go to a tool such a aHrefs, find out who is linking to the article – if there is are a good amount of websites linking to that article, proceed. If not then choose a different article.
- Write a better version of that article, if it is a list of top 10 of something then do a top 20 or 30.
- Reach out to everybody that linked to that article.
When reaching out you should acknowledge they have linked to the article you have improved and then say something along the lines of “because you linked to [insert blog title name] I think you would enjoy an article I recently wrote: “[insert new blog title here’]”
Add Social share buttons
Sharing articles on social media may sound basic – you write an in-depth article, then you share it to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But how does this actually affect SEO? The more people who see it , whether it is in your existing network, paid ads or through a retweet or a share, the more likely people are to link to your content providing you with backlinks.
We use a social share and comment platform called Disqus download it here.
Share this article on Twitter to test it out 😉
Clean up zombie pages
What are zombie pages?
Ghost pages are those pages that hold little to no value to you, essentially they are dead pages as the name suggests. They could be pages such as search results, category pages, tag pages. They mainly affect larger websites but it is still important to have a tidy website for when you scale.
How do you get rid of zombie pages?
- On your WordPress dashboard, navigate to SEO on your menu on the left-hand side and click Search Appearance
- Select the Taxonomies tab
- Toggle Categories and Tags to No
- Click Save
If you have a web page or product page that isn’t getting much traction and you don’t wish to delete it, then you can keep it but choose not to index it.
You can do this by using the plugin Noindex pages. Once the plugin is installed, go to a blog, product or webpage and under the publishing section in the top right-hand corner, there is an option to stop indexing.
Check Broken Links & Redirects
If you have Yoast Premium then this is simplifier however there are other ways to go about this.
Download: Broken Link Checker
- Navigate to Tools on the left hand menu on your WordPress dashboard
- Click “Broken Links” option
Here you may face internal broken links (where one of your webpages doesn’t link to your other anymore) or a broken external link (when the website you linked to have changed URLs). For each of these, find the new addresses or if you cannot, then remove the link.
Delete Duplicate Content
Search engines do not like deleted or repeated content, make sure that your website is full of fresh unique content. This includes blogs, meta titles and descriptions.
Display Clear Call to Action Buttons
To increase your conversion rate, make messages simple. Make it clear for people to what you want them to do. Guide them to the “Call to action” button and make it easy for them. Don’t have any long forms, make them as short as possible and make sure that they are not constantly in the users face, where it gets to the point of annoying the user.
Increase Dwell Time
Dwell time is the time spent on a webpage – the longer people stay on your website, the more Google thinks that users are interested in the content. To keep people on your website, you need to give them a reason to stay on your page.
You must provide long, valuable content. The longer the content is, the longer users will spend reading it. Including a video is a good tactic to keep users on your website. When Google looks at your website, they will reward you with better rankings, if people have taken the time out to read what you have written.
Another way you can keep visitors on your site longer is by providing images and video. The more visuals there are to see on the website then, the longer visitors are likely to spend on your page.
The introduction is possibly the most important piece of copy on the web page. The introduction should hook people immediately and persuade them to read on. If the attention is not caught within the first few seconds then users are likely to click off quicker. You may already be aware that bounce rate is a ranking.
Click Through Rate signifies to Google whether a website is “popular” or not. The way that the Google algorithm works is that the more people see your result in the search engine and click on it, the more of an improvement on rankings you get. Similar to when Google is ranking AdWords results, they want to display results that are getting the most traction. There are several ways that you can increase your click-through rate:
- Use all characters in meta description and title
- Provide a Call-to-Action in the meta description
- Keep your permalinks simple
- If you are a local business, localise your keyword optimisation
- Split test different title structures and over time find ones that work for you
Use Yoast to preview what your search results will look like.
Optimise for Voice
Voice search is becoming ever popular, with the rise of Siri, Alexa and Google Home. You may wonder how SEO links into this, but here is how.
When users are searching for something like “Where can I buy flowers near me?” Google’s algorithms are getting a lot more intelligent through AI. Based on the information your website gives Google, they can make sense of this and answer questions for your audience. This is particularly important in local search, you must include your area and so that it will pick up terms such as “near me” or “in (insert city)”.
Use this checklist each time you start a new website or are looking to further improve a current website.
If you would like to speak further in detail about how to get your website optimised correctly for search engines, the feel free to send us any question you have!
Book a meeting: https://calendly.com/flyhighmedia/15min