We’re Taking This To The Top – The Essential SEO Checklist

 

Below, we’ve assembled our 15 best-practice guidelines for optimising your content to get the best results on Google, separated into 4 key categories.

Doing the research

1. Examine search engine results pages

    • The content at the top of the results page indicates what Google thinks are the most relevant pages for a particular search term. Closely scrutinise the first few results to get a feel for how those pages are put together – look at the the URL, the title, the meta description (featured snippet), etc. 
    • Ask yourself, “how do these pages look? Are they mostly long-form blog posts? Are they optimised product pages? What is the point of these top-rankers?
    • After looking at the top pages, if you can see there’s an important question related to your keyword that isn’t being addressed in the search results, it may represent an opportunity for you to create content that has a great chance of ranking highly!

2. Conduct thorough keyword research

    • First, you’ll want to identify what your primary keywords should be.
      • Keyword research begins with knowing your target market. These are the people who will be searching for your content, so it’s crucial to understand the demographics, their general interests, and, importantly, their search intent – what they need/are looking for.
      • Today, Google is prioritising user intent more than ever. So, for example, if Google determines that a search has purchase intent, the results will favour e-commerce pages. 
    • Also, take voice search into account – the biggest difference from traditional search lies in how the query is framed. With voice search, the query is usually in question form. You should take into account all possible questions your content might answer, and ensure you include direct answers throughout your copy (especially towards the top). FAQ formats will also help you rank better in voice searches.

Optimising titles and description

3. Optimise your URL

    • You want your URL to be short, clean and to-the-point – those are the things that Google likes
    • URLs should contain the main keyword and accurately portray what your page is about. If Google won’t be able to crawl for your page effectively if it can’t understand it’s about

 4. Write a clean title 

    • Title tags are what search engines crawl, and, like URLs, they use keywords in the title tag to determine the content and the point of the page – when you search in Google, the results you see are generally taken straight from the title tag.
    • Best-practice is to include 2-3 keywords within your title, and keep the main (primary) keyword towards the front.
    • Generally, you want a small amount of compelling text to bookend your keywords. A general formula will look something like this: <compelling text>primary keyword, secondary keyword<compelling text>

 5. Make use of subheadings

    • Subheadings can be used throughout your text to divide your it into scannable blocks, thereby producing easy-to-digest and user-friendly content, which results in a positive user experience, thus lowering your overall bounce rate.
    • In terms of SEO, subheadings are an opportunity to maximise the number of times you include your target keyword. Unlike title tags, you can use multiple subheadings throughout.
    • You should include the keyword only where it’s relevant and natural – don’t crowbar it in to every subhead. As a rule, try to include your target keyword in every 3-4 subheadings.

6. Ensure you insert clear meta descriptions

    • Meta descriptions are small snippets of text that appear underneath your content’s title on Google’s results page. 
    • Their purpose is to explain to search engines and browsers what your page is about – they describe its content. Well-chosen snippets provide viewers a clear summary of what a page is about. In that way, they have a positive impact on your CTR and time spent on-page.
    • In some instances, if no description is offered by the content’s creator, Google will select a piece of text from within the page for you, which can sometimes, based on the text added, make the purpose of a page unclear to browsers.

7. Use modifiers in titles and subheadings 

    • Modifiers are words like the following: best, top, review, guide. A date (e.g. 2020), also constitutes a modifier
    • These are incredibly helpful in forming longtail keywords. They mean that in addition to your target keyword, you have a whole new list of variations to try and rank for.
    • Adding in modifiers will help your page appear in more searches and help Google’s algorithm better understand what the site is about. 
      • N.B. – Modifiers often come up in voice searches.

Creating effective written content

8. Create relevant long form content

    • Longer posts tend to attract more backlinks than shorter ones, which will increase your pages authority and ranking position. (Longer, more comprehensive posts will also help you become an industry thought-leader.)
    • It is important to make sure each post contains quality, relevant information. Relevance here will be defined by how useful and applicable it is to your target audience. 
    • For long-term relevance, focus on evergreen content – this is material that is not trend-based, seasonal, or news-related.
      • Examples include : how-to’s, tutorials, and guides; industry key-term definitions and explanations of major features; resources and tools lists; beginner guides 

9. Use internal links 

    • These are links included in your content that lead to other pages in your own website (see point 13 for an example of one in use)
    • Every page should, if at all possible, include multiple links to related content. You may want to introduce a “related posts” or “similar posts” section in your page’s templates, as well as internal links dotted throughout the body of your copy.
    • The most important part of internal linking is to make sure that each link is used in a natural way and that it leads users to relevant content.

10. Address common questions and include FAQ sections 

    • Featured text snippets are results that appear at the very top of the results page (known as “position zero”). These are pulled from websites that provide a very specific answer to users’ questions. To compete for this position, your page should provide clear answers to the questions your audience is most likely to ask.
    • Featured text snippets are often pulled from FAQ sections, so it’s a great idea to include one in each post. 
      • To get an idea of what to address in your FAQs section, type in your target keyword and scroll down to Google’s “related searches”. 

11. Introduce user reviews 

    • Including the review schema snippet on your site to bring in review stars could lead to increased credibility and CTRs –  fresh site reviews will make your page rank higher. 

Exploiting multimedia content

12. Include multimedia content

    • Users tend to really like multimedia, or content which mixes text, video and images. The more of it you integrate into your on-page content, the more likely readers are to stay on your page and read (or watch) your output.
    • This translates to lower bounce rates and more time spent on site, which are two important ranking factors within Google’s algorithm 

13. Get the most out of your video content  

    • Videos are the most engaging multimedia form and will positively affect the time users spend on your page more than anything else. But, to extract maximum value from the video content you create, it all needs to be easily understood and indexed. Doing this requires the following: 
      • Strong titles – video titles should be short and engaging, and they must include your target keyword.
      • Full descriptions – descriptions should accurately describe the focus of your video and what your viewers can expect to see. This can mean multiple short paragraphs, not just a few sentences. 
      • Relevant thumbnails – these images can be the deciding factor in whether or not someone watches your video: if it’s a product demo, show the product!
      • Make sure your videos are relevant to the content they are posted alongside.
      • Use subtitles (if available) – videos are often watched with the sound off, so help your viewers out!
    • For Threekey’s guide for creating video content that will really boost user engagement click here (LINK TO HARRY’S BLOG POST)

14. Alt tag your images and describe them well

    • Alt tags and descriptions are intended to clarify the appearance and purpose of an image on a page, so you want to ensure they represent the image correctly
    • These also help search engine crawlers better index your images by providing more information, making them important to your page’s overall SEO.
    • To boost your chances of a high ranking for a keyword, the accompanying image description must contain that keyword 

15. Remember: mobile is king!

    • Mobile-first indexing means that Google gives more weight to the mobile version of your pages for ranking than the desktop version. As a result, getting a high ranking is almost impossible if your site is not optimised for mobile. 
      • Some things to consider when it comes to your on-page SEO and mobile-first indexing are:
        • Is there mobile parity between the desktop and mobile version of your site?
        • How do your pages appear to those viewing them on a mobile device?
        • Is the font readable?
        • Are the buttons big enough?
        • Is the content on your site written in a mobile-friendly way? Are the sentences and paragraphs short and compact enough for a mobile audience?