Fortunately, we have created this short, actionable technical SEO checklist to help you tackle all the high priority items that improve rankings - and avoid downward drops like this one!
1. Make your site discoverable by search engines.
One thing I've come across in reviewing some of our clients' sites is that they may be unintentionally blocking their site from search engines. If your website isn't allowed to be discovered by search engines, then your web pages won't get included in search results. So check your robots.txt file. A robots.txt file provides direction to search engine crawlers on what is allowed to be discovered
Here's how to do that:
a. In your browser, type yourwebsite.com/robots.txt. A bunch of code will appear on the page, but no need to go through it line by line.
b. Do a Control+Find for “Disallow:" If “Disallow: /“ is in your code without anything following it like in this first example below, it means your whole website is blocked from being discovered by search engines. However, a robots.txt file is useful for pages you don't want to be seen, like your admin login page, as seen in the second example.
If you're using WordPress, utilize the robots.txt file generator within the Yoast SEO plugin to edit.
2. Optimize your home page title tag.
If you go to your website's home page and hover over your browser tab, does the browser tab text say the words “Home | Your Website"? If so, changing your home page title tag to include the search term that best describes your business will help raise your organic visibility.
For example, let's say your business offers commercial real estate loans. A home page title tag could be “Commercial Real Estate Lending Company - Fantastic Company." This way when someone is searching for a commercial real estate lending company, your home page will show up in organic search results for that keyword.
3. Submit a sitemap to search engines.
Imagine going on a road trip without a GPS or directions. No doubt you'll eventually find your way, but wouldn't a navigation system be nice to have?
Road trip directions are what a sitemap is to search engines. A sitemap isn't required for search engines to discover your site, but it makes their job a lot easier (and what helps them is likely to help give your site a boost.)
Make your sitemap available to search engines by editing and adding it to your robots.txt file, or submitting directly to Google's Search Console and Bing's Webmaster Tools. Once a sitemap is submitted to search engines like Google and Bing, all the great pages, files, images, and videos that exist on your site can be easily discovered.
4. Compress your images.
Search engines want to get answers for users fast, but a slow site gets in the way of that which is why it's important to make sure your website loads fast. The most common culprit of slow site speeds are images with large file sizes.
Fortunately, reducing image size is an easy fix. Go to Google's Page Speed Test tool. Type in your website. Google will then provide you with a list of the highest priority issues bogging down your site, including a list of any images slowing down the website loading speed (and what a reduction in size for those images can do for your site speed). Then, you can utilize a tool like Compressor.io to reduce the image file size.
It's a simple fix and a win for both user experience and SEO.
5. Conduct an SEO audit.
Technical SEO isn't limited to this checklist. Give your website a competitive boost by conducting a more in-depth SEO audit. There are several marketing agencies that offer SEO audits. My firm offers an SEO audit to run a scan and generate a report of your website. Here is the typical process you undertake with an SEO audit:
- Enter your website URL.
- Type your target search term you want to rank for.
- Click Scan Now.
- Receive and review your recommendations.
- Take action on high priority items.
How optimized is your website for organic search? What are the priority items you need to address? Conducting an SEO audit will enable you to move beyond this checklist.
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of a digital marketing company in Scottsdale, Arizona that has been named a Best Place To Work every year since the company's founding. Recently, Brett provided a digital marketing audit, as part of the PayPal prize package, to the winner of the Phoenix Suns' Buzzer Beater Business Makeover sweepstakes. These tips were part of his recommended plan.