SEO checklist: what to do and not to do

SEO or search engine optimization basics

 SEO is constantly changing. As an entrepreneur, you sometimes don't know where your head is anymore. So let's disentangle those concoctions. We are going to work with a clear SEO checklist of do's and dont's. You get timeless SEO basics and we'll give you the latest trends and Google algorithms. Time to make some decisions!

SEO checklist basic: what does SEO mean?

First of all, what exactly is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short: making your website findable. Biggest advantage? It costs you (almost) nothing. You just put the focus on organic search resultsunlike, say SEA (Search Engine Advertising) where you pay per click and costs add up.

Do's and Don'ts on the SEO checklist

Do: focus on local SEO

Score! Google is the new Yellow Pages. According to the "State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019," 64% of marketers surveyed agree that Google is the new homepage for local entrepreneurs. Since the launch of Google Pigeon search results show much more direct information about a company.

So it's time to take matters into your own hands. You can easily gain visibility if you make your address, opening hours and a description of your services or products findable for search engines.

Don't: same keywords on as many pages as possible

This statement might have been correct in 2009, when everyone still had BlackBerries and Britney Spears topped the charts. Those days are over, nowadays Google recognizes keyword stuffing.

So what should you do? Try to use maximum 5 keywords per page . You then discuss these in detail to inform your client about a particular topic. Why? Well, your texts and pages will be much more relevant. As a result, they can be found much faster. You also use a lot of different long tail variants. As a result, your reach will be much broader than if you were to present 100 keywords only once. People nowadays search more often with sentences than with words. The main reason for this is the emergence of Voice Search. Recording a search via a smartphone, laptop or through speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Conclusion: focus on various keywords that you discuss extensively on your chosen page. Quality over quantity. Don't forget the Voice Search story. Do you help your customer? Then Google will help you.

Do: voice search

Welcome to the world where (almost) everyone talks to their smartphone. Millions of people have tested and approved voice search in recent years. Just think of all those people walking down the street, loudly searching for the nearest pizzeria. Consequence: 50 percent of all searches are recorded . Content marketers be ready! How? By creating voice-ready content to make it as easy as possible for Google and the user.

Don't: no need for mobile speed

60% of searches are done via mobile. It is therefore strongly recommended to have a mobile optimization strategy . There is less and less search on desktop. The mobile optimization of your website is therefore increasingly important to get a good review in Google

Google now emphasizes mobile indexing: "Since the majority of web users Google on their mobile device, indexing will primarily use the mobile version of a page. We are not creating a separate mobile-first index. We will continue to use only one index" says Google. So mobile optimization is an absolute must on your SEO checklist!

Do: video is the future

YouTube is almost synonym for SEO: it is the second largest search engine in the world. Hence, the perfect platform for advertainment . Here are some tips to score on Youtube:

  • video titles and descriptions;
  • categories and tags;
  • SRT files;
  • video thumbnails.

You're not using YouTube? Fair enough. But aslo social media are responding more and more to video content. You're almost certainly using those, right? And last but not leats: video content on your website? Absolutely! It can make your customers stay on your site longer.

Don't: as much link building as possible, as little contact as possible

Not quite on board with the principleof link building? Here's a crash course.

Link building is a two-way street: there are inbound links and outbound links. The most valuable links are backlinks or inbound links, which are links that link other web pages to yours. These references come from external websites.

There are also internal links;for example, a link on your homepage that points to your services page. The principle of inbound links has changed over the years. The principle used to be: the more links there are to your webpage, the more important Google considers this page to be. Now an extra rule is added: relevance. The more relevant your webpage and the more relevant your links, the higher you will score in Google.

You also have outbound links: links on your own website to an external website.To supplement a blog post with additional information on a particular topic, for example. Google recognizes relevant websites, so this is definitely a plus.

Unfortunately there is quite a lot of 'spamming' in both directions, by linking too much to the same page, usually by paid links. Stay as far away from them as possible. They cost you money, they're not worth anything in the long run and they make sure your website gets little or no trust from your customer and from Google. Another example is a blog that is full of links to improve your ranking. In some cases, Google punishes this immediately and you are removed from their query.

Conclusion: link building without relevant and diverse content is useless. So make sure your website is relevant to your visitors. Link building is a long term process.

Do: each image has a name

Scoring with image titles is 'low hanging fruit'. It can be removed from your SEO checklist in an instant and has nothing but benefits. Here's the thing: search engines can only read text. Specifically, they read the text on your website but don't see what's on your images.

That is why it is important to give images an alt text and a relevant filename . This way you make sure Google knows what the image is about. This will give you extra points for a higher ranking in Google.

Don't: optimize only H1

We can already remove this rule from the big Google handbook. Headings are often used in function of a certain look, and Google knows that. Therefore, the use of H1 has become less important for the rating of your page. The structure itself now weighs more heavily. For example, you can also take an H2 as the title and then write an H3 title.

Furthermore, you should make sure that you state your main concept at the top of the page. This is a way of optimizing the user experience, because you immediately tell what your page is about.

Tip: use your keywords in the first 150 words of your page; Google is sensitive to that.

Do: visitor experience is a must.

User experience is now more important than ever to Google. A customer journey should be a hassle-free experience. An experience where you surf smoothly on a website that is fast, functional and informative.

Tip: to optimize the user experience on your website, you can focus on things like load time, bounce rate, time on page and views per page.

Don't: the more pages, the better

Less is more, more or less. In the past, SEO was all about manipulating data and keywords to appear higher in the search results. Often multiple pages were created with approximately the same content.

Modern SEO is more about quality than quantity. In 2011 Google Panda came along: an algorithm that ignores web pages with the same content. At the same time websites that offer relevant content are rewarded. So we're flipping our content marketing to a strategy that's helpful to the user, not to our numbers.

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