Working in a busy, ambitious and visionary workplace, where ideas abound and concepts consistently fleshed – I’ve often found it all too easy to get carried away with our project plans. We start to focus on the exciting new ideas and forget about the boring foundations. So with that personal experience, I thought it would be wise to place a little reminder here. Let’s go all the way back to the beginning and focus on some of those basics that we all know we should look at but which we often conveniently forget in favour of that new exciting content marketing (read: linkbait) piece.
Remember the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors that the guys over at Search Engine Land helpfully put out a few years ago, and updated last year? If not, take a look here. It’s a useful, and quick, reminder of those areas we know we should fix but probably never quite get around to.
Here’s my summary of key basics that need to be fixed if you want all your other more creative and substantial efforts to actually work for you. Content isn’t King if it doesn’t even have a solid house to live in, with doors and windows and everything. (Apologies, that’s a terrible analogy).
I’ve noticed over the years that content tends to get fixed before other areas. This is usually due to its relatively low dependence on tech requirements as compared to something like site speed. Apporoach the basics of your site SEO with the GTD (Getting Things Done) mentality. Have you read those articles on LifeHacker that tell you how to best approach your to-do list? How as humans and creatures of ease, we tend to tick the easy ones off first? If you tackle one difficult one and get it out of the way, that leaves you with more time and more ability to sort through the smaller, easier tasks.
1. Webmaster Tools Crawl Errors
How many of us can really hold our hands up and say we have ZERO crawl errors in WMT? Do you have the odd 500? A couple of forgotten 404s? There’s no excuse. Take a look and fix the underlying issues. This might mean reminding developers about that ticket you raised months ago but never got around to chasing up. Or rolling up your sleeves and digging into your wordpress htaccess yourself. Take a few hours, get it done.
2. Site Speed
3. Pre-emptively Reviewing Your Backlink Profile
You’ve heard stories from all sorts of other sites that got hit by having slightly dubious looking links in their backlink profile but you, touch wood, have been fine so far. With some many updates to the algorithm and what is considered ‘ok’ vs ‘dodgy’ – nobody, I repeat, NOBODY is safe. Don’t wait for that penalty to hit, review your backlinks today.
4. Duplicate Titles And Descriptions
Any basic SEO tool will highlight this. You can also see it in Webmaster Tools. But do you tend to overlook it unless it’s for your key target pages? Basics like this shouldn’t exist only in key areas, be aware of your full site. It’s not just top landing pages that count.
5. Create and Maintain Sitemaps
Sitemaps are often thought of as a ‘nice to have’ bonus for SEO. In my experience, they can have a significant impact especially when working to get new/updated/migrated content re-indexed. Sitemaps are relatively easy to set up, automate and submit. Speak to your developer.
6. Set Clear KPIs
Less of a technical focus but something that has caused me to come a cropper more than once. It’s easy to float around your analytics looking at visits/top pages/conversions. You know they increase and decrease but are you equating it back to your efforts? Do you have clear targets and priorities? Before you spend time and money on new content or an updated sign. Know why it is you’re doing it and what your KPIs are.
Not everything is content and reach and glamour just yet? The boring basics are there for a reason. We all know we’ve all been guilty of never quite getting around to at least a couple of them.
Image courtesy of: precast.org