I’ve been following a few SEO copywriters (ok, the awesome Kate Toon in particular) lately to try and get a grasp on how they are implementing their clients SEO strategies. I think connecting with a copywriter who specialises in SEO is an ideal place to start if you want the best chance to leverage your site offering. But even they will tell you that if you are going to DIY, there are a few basic things you can do TODAY to get your site ranking a little higher than, like, not at all. You will also learn that SEO is not a set and forget. It’s like laundry. Do a little every week and you’ll be fine. Let it pile up and you’ll have a whole lot of work to do.
When I build sites for clients, I try to incorporate what I call a ‘brain dump’ of all I know about SEO. Which isn’t a lot. But it is substantial enough that it will give you the google edge over a comparable site that isn’t optimising their site content. SEO needn’t be overwhelming, but good habits and some housekeeping are required.
I often get asked if my proposal includes SEO and I immediately say something like this:
“Keyword discovery and SEO copywriting is NOT included in the cost of this proposal. If you have an SEO strategy in place, I will most definitely be able to incorporate the on-site SEO elements as dictated by that strategy. SEO has become a profession of it’s own and there are experts who will guide you to achieve high rankings in Google based on keyword discovery and keyword campaigns and a whole bunch of other cool things. SEO is an investment into your brand and site and should be considered and measured when you are cataloging your Return On Investment. If you consult with an SEO expert or copywriter, I would be more than happy to help implement their strategy in WordPress for you, or guide you to do this”
Naturally, I aim to please, so this is followed by the list of things I DO implement for those customers who’s budget is within my client typical spend. Here’s goes. Take a seat and get a coffee!
The Basic Onsite SEO Checklist.
- Use WordPress & a solid theme base. I use Genesis as the framework for most of my site builds. You can find out all about it’s SEO goodness here
- Install WordPress SEO by Yoast. Yoast is a pretty good dude, a generous communicator and a talented developer. He’s compiled his massive volume of SEO knowledge into one handy tool which I install on every WordPress build. I also provide videos on how to use the tool to leverage every piece of content.
- Use only one H1 tag per post. On a properly coded theme, this is usually the page title so a no-brainer.
- Suggest you use bold text occasionally in a meaningful way on the page. Don’t go crazy.
- Recommend my most valuable SEO resource sites such as Moz.com. Know thy enemy. Well, not really enemy, but educating yourself about WHY you are doing something will motivate you (or guilt you) into doing it.
- Install Google Analytics and verify it. Even if you don’t think you need it (but really, you do need it).
- Link your site to Google Webmaster tools and verify it. Same reason as above.
- Set up Google Authorship. This links your Google + profile to your website. I’ll also suggest you don’t use that picture of yourself at your cousin’s cupid party as a profile pic on Google + or any professional social media sites. This is your business. Unless you sell cupid party dress up costumes. In that case, go for it.
- Submit an XML sitemap to Google.
- Encourage you to set your affiliate links to no follow, no index so you don’t get penalised.
- Insist you use Alt (alternative) tags on your images. Meaningful ones. I’ll also train you on how to do this. No excuses.
- Suggest you think about your content and make it at least 300 words for pages you hope people will find.
- Insist you name your image files sensibly.
- Link your content around your site and to other sites where appropriate (These are called internal and backlinks).
- Suggest your blog posts and pages are specific for keywords. And reinforce using that keyword consistently in the title, url, copy, meta description, image alt tags and that you tailor your meta description for each page to a neat and tidy <156 character spiel.
- Prepare you to think about your audience and what they might be searching for
- Recommend publishing to your social media avenues (blog posts can bring amazing credibility to your brand if they are on the mark, and they can be a great SEO tool if written with some basic SEO theory in mind)
- Recommend the social media sources you SHOULD be a part of to capitalise on your brand (Here you go: Google +, Facebook, Twitter & Linked in)
- Recommend you get your site linked on credible partner sites as often as possible.
- Explain to you (when you ask) why I’m not adding 500 keywords to the meta-tag-amegig*
So there you have it, there is no reason why good habits can’t be established from the start to leverage your content as much as possible. Using WordPress makes it really simple to set these systems in place and all you have to do is stay on top of that laundry pile. Hopefully by following the Onsite SEO Checklist on sites where my clients are willing to allow me to give my all (ie, the ones who pay for my services inline with my typical client spend), their sites will be getting rankings appropriate to the caliber of their content, and not impaired by the lack of attention to their base onsite SEO.
That being said – I invite you SEO folk to correct me if I’ve got it wrong and let me know if I’ve missed anything. I’m still learning and while my services fall greatly into the design and production category, I would love to know if I can help my clients get a leg up in their SEO efforts.
Comments open and encouraged!