16 Step SEO Checklist Before Launching a Website

On January 4, 2011, wrote:

SEO isn’t just an additional step to perform when you are launching a website.  It is a process that needs to be implemented throughout the entire website manufacturing process.  Whether you are hiring a SEO professional or optimizing your website yourself, there are certain crucial steps that you cannot neglect in order to fully optimize your website.

SEO can be a very confusing concept to grasp; and while new websites must optimize their page rank, they may have no idea where to start optimizing.  Luckily, Danny Dover over at SEOmoz created a checklist that clears the fog on what a thorough SEO process entails.

The Checklist:

CRUCIAL

1. Targeting– Is each page focusing on one optimal keyword?  This will make it very easy to figure out what each page is relevant for.  Choose a ranking keyword phrase to distinguish each page.  Each following step will need to remain relevant to this keyword phrase.

2. Content- One of the biggest phrases in SEO is ‘content is king.’  We say this because your website’s content is exactly how people will find you, and how Google will rank you.  It needs to be unique and relevant to your target.

3. Title Tag- This is one of the most critical steps of the SEO process.  This is a step where you need to be extremely precise in the words you choose.  Title tags appear in the search engine results, tops of browsers, and external websites.  They need to be under 70 characters, keyword intensive and begin with your targeted phrase.

4. URL- Long confusing URLs are as annoying to us as they are to you.  The URL structure needs to be clear, short, easy to read and relevant to your target.

5. Meta Descriptions- These are the short paragraphs that appear under a title tag in the search engine results page.  While meta descriptions in themselves are not as important for search engine rankings, they are crucial for attracting users to your site, which is very important.  The meta descriptions need to coerce the user to visit your site while maintaining relevancy and an abundance of ranking keywords.

6. REL=Canonical- This tool is used to tell search engines what is the canonical version of a webpage.  This means that when there are several urls to choose from, where you want to point the search engines to.  Often there will be approved duplicate content around your site or the web.  By using rel=canonical, this will point the search engines to the original page thus preserving ‘link juice.’

7. Alt Text- This is very helpful for people who require alternative methods for viewing the internet (i.e. visually impaired readers).  The descriptions you use for your images need to be keyword heavy as the alt text can boost your rankings in a search.

8. Internal linking- This is a very important task.  Link building in SEO is crucial to increase your page rank, so why not optimize the ones that are the easiest to build?  Once you figure out what your target phrases are, you need to figure out which pages will rank for them and then use appropriate anchor text to link to those pages.  No need to try and link every single keyword on your site as you do not want to come off appearing spammy.

Not as Crucial, but Still Important

1. Meta Robots- Most cases your site will need to have Meta Robots.  This is important to tell the search engine robots to not index certain pages or follow certain links.  This is important for saving your link juice by placing proper page authority when there’s duplicate content.

2. Robots.txt- This is mainly an exclusion program used to tell robots to not crawl a certain page.  Note: Certain robots can ignore the file (i.e. malware), so do not try and use robots.txt to hide content.

3. Meta Keywords– Do not use these.  Meta keywords are a very outdated SEO tag.  These are potentially harmful for your business as you can be telling your competition what keywords you are trying to classify each page for.  Search engines can also penalize your site because they may classify meta keywords as keyword spamming.

4. H1– This is using the HTML header or ‘heading 1’ to explain to different search engines how information correlates with the information on the page.  For SEO, this won’t boost your rank too much, but the H1 tag is important for establishing relevancy and rank stability.

5. Cloaking- This is when you show your users and the search engine robots different content.  This is a punishable offense and can negatively affect your page rank (i.e. BMW Germany and Google).  Obviously logged in users and offline users for certain websites will see separate content.  Ensure your offline users and the search engines see the same content to avoid penalties.

6. Capitalization- If you have capitals in your URL, your site may also load without the capitals.  This means duplicate content with shared authority.  Use a rel=canonical or a redirect to make sure you receive all due link juice.

7. Trailing Slash- Same concept as capitalization, your site may load with or without a trailing slash.  Use a redirect or canonical.

8. Images- Ensure your images are in the optimal format and size (as small as possible).  Also, all your links that have no value should have nofollow in their links to prevent cannibalization of link juice.

Any steps you think we forgot?  Feel free to share in the comments!


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One response to “16 Step SEO Checklist Before Launching a Website”

  1. Dominic says:

    This list seems appropriate for simple sites where pages do not need to be adapted to different categories of visitors, which can be differentiated by their history (which can be tracked in different ways) or simply by their interaction with your business outside the internet (which can be seen by the URL they use). In these more complex sites, duplication of content becomes a good thing because it provides the optimal experience to the visitors. For example, their “history” might simply be a choice in a drop-down menu to pick a new color for a product. Yet, the search engines need to be told that these different variants (useful duplication) should be merged into one canonical. Perhaps you should say more about the canonical tag as a way to address these cases, which are very common.

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