March 31, 2022

A Complete SEO Checklist for your Business Website- Updated for 2022!

If you own a business that needs to be bolstered after two years of pandemic-induced lockdowns and severe restrictions on your routine activities, start with improving the SEO strategy of your business’ website. It is the first thing that requires fine-tuning for two primary reasons:

1. Enables your website to rank higher despite increased competition.
2. Ensures you remain abreast of the latest changes in Search Engine Ranking Protocols (SERP) and how search technologies are evolving.

Do not pay attention to self-declared pundits online who keep repeating that even the most practical and proven SEO strategies have stopped working…

…because they are misguided. Unless you are investing time and money in your SEO strategy, your business will keep losing ground.

What you require is an SEO checklist, a blueprint of all the steps you need to work on for several months with no breaks. Such a checklist covers every facet of the existing SEO techniques you are using currently while determining the areas that require improvement.

Additionally, if you are already in the process of setting up a business website, this checklist is one you cannot afford to miss!

In figures: The state of Search Engine Optimization in 2022

A lot has changed in the past two years on the SEO front. Before we present a few figures, understand that the intent of SEO itself has changed. It has grown from techniques used to improve online search rankings. SEO in 2022 incorporates branding, detailed keyword research, a thorough understanding of what your competitors are doing right and where they are going wrong, and creating content that resonates with a company’s target audience.

All these elements help generate steady organic traffic to your website, something that is critical if it’s your business domain.

Before we develop an SEO checklist that’ll future-proof your biz website, here are some figures to mull upon:

  • 68% of all online purchase decisions are made based on search engine results.
  • Google remains the most dominant search engine, handling more than 91% of all user queries. Your SEO checklist will have to revolve around Google.
  • 60% of B2B marketers in the United States have stated that SEO-generated leads convert an overwhelming percentage of all sales closures.
  • In a stunning turnaround, almost 70% of all online marketers opine that SEO campaigns (when done right) are better than PPC campaigns across businesses and services.
  • Around 80% of all users will never go past Google’s first results page!
  • Voice searches have gone through the roof; more than 39% of all search queries across the United States are voice-driven.
  • 75% of all Americans use local search features before deciding which business establishment they’ll visit.
  • Mobile-friendly business sites witness a 60% increase in sales. How about that!
  • Search queries with the words “near me” and “Where can I buy” have risen by more than 200% since 2017. Much of this momentum is a result of the lockdowns.
  • Finally, 55% of all US customers utilize a smartphone to collect data about a business. [i]

Graph showing worldwide desktop market share of leading search engines from January 2010 to January 2022

These statistics are the bedrock of a scientific and technology-driven SEO checklist for any business site in the US, given that these numbers will drive most search engine tactics.

Devising an SEO checklist for your business website

This is where the going gets really interesting!

SEO checklists do not depend on what type of business you are engaged in. They are niche-agnostic, and they almost always follow a pattern. This pattern changes somewhat every 1-2 years as Google keeps updating and tinkering with its algorithms.

All said a basic SEO checklist that ticks all the right boxes and which is ideal for any up and coming business website is one that covers the following points.

1) A Sitemap

Sitemap is an important part of a SEO checklist

Google and other search engines like Bing crawl through every site and log all links that are then ranked later based on a large number of parameters. To ensure that your website is searchable by Google’s search bots, the first thing your website requires is a sitemap.

A sitemap is essentially a blueprint of all the pages that your website has. It contains each and every link (internal or external) that your website provides. Most websites that are information-heavy require an extensive sitemap that will have all pertinent headings stored within and will prove to be of great value when your website is being indexed.

According to surveys and most SEO experts, the sitemap must be carefully updated once a year. Updated sitemaps are an invitation to search engines to crawl through the extended portions of your website, ensuring fresh content enters the Google Black Hole.

Remember: all search engines love fresh content. Updates sitemaps are a cornerstone for any successful website.

2)‘About us’ pages are necessary

A screenshot of an About Us page

Adding an ‘about us’ page to your website, especially since it is meant for business purposes, is very important. Yet, many small and developing business owners who are working on their sites do not choose to introduce such a page unless they are asked to by their selected SEO agencies.

Such a page reflects who you are as a business, what your mission and values are, why people should use your products and services over those offered by rival companies, what your business ethics and principles are, and a plethora of other information.

This page might not rank on any search engine, but it provides a human angle to your business. This is necessary for a superior UX experience too.

Such a page need not be too long. However, it should cover most of the pointers mentioned for it to work.

3) Maintain a separate blog section and keep it active

A blog page is a must in an SEO checklist
Image Source: https://flpowersolutions.com/blog/

Your SEO strategy will work better and will certainly draw a lot more organic traffic when your website has blogs. They should be prominently displayed as a separate section on your landing page. Blogs work wonders when they are written specifically for your business by seasoned professionals who know how to use words to weave magic.

Blogs contain relevant keywords and are enormously helpful in interlinking pages. Interlinking is one of the pillars of SEO and is a must-have in any strategy.

Blogs work exceedingly well when it comes to user experience as well. People who wish to know more about your business will first go through the blog section. The more impactful they are, the better your chances of influencing them positively.

Blogs are also considered one of the poles of credibility. Your business website will flourish only when your credibility as a brand is established. Blogs are one of the surefire ways to ensure that.

Ensure that this section is updated regularly. As more blogs are added, you can recycle some of the oldest ones with altered headlines or ensure that they are polished and updated.

4)Keywords

Keywords are an important part of a SEO checklist

If you have gone through any other website that talks about SEO and SEO strategies, keywords must have caught your attention. Keywords were once the be-all and end-all of SEO; that is no longer the case. Nevertheless, it is essential that your business site has effective and high-value keywords to drive inbound traffic.

Keywords are essentially what people type in their search engines. No search engine spews out any keywords on its own: they are all user-generated.

There are three major types of keywords: primary, secondary, and LSI keywords. Primary keywords help your website, and certain pages rank higher, but they will be of no use if you are not using proper secondary and LSI ones.

A keyword research strategy is a great help when you are starting out with penning a specific page.

Because so many people use their mobile devices (and smart gadgets like powered Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri), LSI keywords are of particular importance now. LSI is an acronym for Latent Semantic Index and is generally referred to as long-tail keywords.

For local SEO, having long-tail keywords with the attributes ‘why, what, when, & how are necessary. They help your website generate good traffic, which will reflect on its search rankings too.

5)Ensure every image has alt text attached

A screenshot of an image alt tag

Image alt text is a component of SEO that is not often appreciated as highly as it should. Alt attributes are essential in ensuring that the search engine can crawl your website and generate a report of what the image is supposed to represent- even if the image file fails to load!

Adding relevant keywords to image files is one aspect of adding superior alt text that is sure to rank higher than images without the text.

Another reason why this text is so necessary is to include greater accessibility to the products and services your website provides. A single pertinent image can replace a chunk of text and will still have the same effect on the readers.

6)Don’t forget to integrate Robots.txt

A screenshot of a robots.txt file

This is the fundamental of what is known as technical SEO. Simply put, a Robots.txt file tells the search engine’s bots which pages they can crawl and which ones they can avoid. This narrows down the total number of index-worthy pages your website contains, providing the search engine access only to the best pages and content.

There are a few pages a search engine does not need to crawl and index. These pages can safely be ignored using the Robots.txt file.

Such pages include:
1. Duplicate pages or URLs
2. Shopping carts and checkout pages.
3. Admin pages.
4. Bad URLs

Depending on how extensive your website is, there can be some more, but these are the most elementary ones.

7)URL optimization is necessary

A screenshot of an optimized URL

URLs must be optimized to ensure that they rank high enough for your overall ranking on SERPs to rise. URLs need refreshing periodically, and this falls under technical SEO yet again.
For example, URLs must be kept short and entirely to the point. This ensures they are appropriately indexed and leads to faster loading times.

It is recommended that URLs contain primary and secondary keywords based on the pages they are leading to. That said, keyword stuffing is a fundamental error and should be avoided consciously.

Keyword stuffing in written text is as great a giveaway of poor SEO strategy as it is when URLs contain too many keywords.

If you want interlinking pages to work wonders, remove broken URLs immediately. For this, 301 redirects must be used generously.

Finally, bold letters are best avoided in URLs. They have no particular significance to the crawl bot; instead, hyphens, underscores, and a few other special characters may be considered.

8)Ensure uniform headings and header tags

A screenshot of some heading tags

One of the most significant attributes of any page is the heading. It tells the user what they are in for and what they can expect. More importantly, it also tells the search bot what sort of content it is scouting so that the pages can be ranked accordingly.

Headings and headers must always be in H1 sizes, sans exception. That is, they should be the most prominent characters on any webpage.

It helps your SEO tactician organize pages based on relevance and importance. It allows quicker overviews of long-form content pages on small screens (which is on the rise, as the statistics in the previous section demonstrate) and is catchy.

That last bit is of great help when it comes to the UX friendliness of your website!

9)Use meta titles and meta descriptions

A screenshot of a title and a meta description

A meta title of a webpage tells the crawl bot what it is about in brief. A meta title is comparable to H1 text on a webpage. Indexing becomes chaotic without the meta title, and your sitemap will collapse.

Meta titles generally contain the primary keyword and should not exceed 60 characters (including spaces). Beyond that figure, they will not load properly, and the page indexing will be divided into two or more parts.

The meta description, on the other hand, is more of a snippet that tells the crawl bot what the page contains and what readers can expect. With repeated updates of Google’s algorithms, meta descriptions have gained significant value and even more traction ever since Google introduced the ‘featured snippet’ feature in its search results.

An ideal meta description will contain a maximum of 160 characters, including spaces, and should contain at least one keyword. When the snippet is maintained within this limit, users will be able to understand what they are about to witness and read even before they click on a link.

Both these aspects should be followed across all web pages that are active and index-friendly.

10)Ensure page loading speeds are high

A high page loading speed is a must for a SEO checklist

Did you know that about half of your readers expect your page to load within 2-3 seconds of clicking?
Yes, when it comes to page loading speeds, every microsecond matters. A page should take anywhere between 2-5 seconds to load, regardless of whether a bigger monitor or a smartphone is being used.

If the page loading speed exceeds 5 seconds, you can expect most of your customers to click on the return key, and your website will be left bereft of organic traffic. That’s the worst thing that can happen.

How do you keep loading speeds low? By ensuring that:

1. Any photos that are present are not too heavy.
2. CSS, HTML, and all JavaScript files are compressed as best as possible.
3. If your webpages have embedded videos, host them on external servers. This will ensure that none of your pages are too heavy.
4. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) when you realize that your website is witnessing a lot of traffic as rankings improve.

Hosting services also play a key role in page loading speeds. If your current hosting service provider is unable to provide solutions, you can always choose an alternate hosting platform.

Trial and error play a major role in such decisions.

A few final words

What we have here are the most basic points of a scientific SEO strategy. If your current SEO plan integrates all these elements, you are sure to expect great results in a few months.

Exactly how many months that will be can never be foretold. You will have to continue with SEO best practices for some time before you can expect any significant fruition and better ROI.

There are several nips and tucks that you can work on. Moving all your webpages to secure domains (HTTPS), optimizing them for mobile device usage, eliminating all broken links and replacing them with fresh and relevant ones, keeping up with the latest verifiable changes in Google’s search services are some of them.

Even the world’s most complete SEO checklist cannot perform magic!

You will have to keep tinkering and keep smaller elements in mind. Patience and belief in these SEO practices are crucial!

[i] Information sourced from: https://inter-growth.co/seo-stats/

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