SEO checklist: what to do and not to do

SEO or search engine optimisation basics

 SEO is constantly changing. Sometimes, as an entrepreneur, you don't know where your head is anymore. So let's untangle those concoctions. We will start working with a clear SEO checklist of do's and dont's. You get timeless SEO basics and we give you the latest trends and Google algorithms. Time to make decisions!

What does SEO mean?

First of all, what exactly is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In short: making your website findable. Biggest advantage? It costs you (almost) nothing. You focus on organic search results, unlike, for example, SEA (Search Engine Advertising) where you pay per click and the costs can sometimes mount 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 business owners. Since the launch of Google Pigeon, search results show much more direct information about a business.

So it is high 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 may have been correct in 2009, when everyone still had BlackBerries and Britney Spears topped the charts. But those days are over; today Google recognises keyword stuffing.

What should you do then? Try to use a maximum of 5 keywords per page. You then discuss these in detail in order to inform your client about a particular subject. Why? Well, your texts and pages will be much more relevant. As a result, they will be found much faster. You also use many different 'longtail' variants , which means that your reach is much broader than if you were to mention 100 keywords once. Nowadays, people search more with sentences than with words. The main reason for this is the rise of Voice Search. Recording a search query via a smartphone, laptop or speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

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

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 talking loudly and looking for the nearest pizzeria. So: content marketers be ready! How? Create voice-ready content to make it as easy as possible for Google and the end user.

Don't: no need for mobile speed

60% of searches are done via mobile. So, it is strongly recommended to use a mobile optimisation strategy. People search less and less via the desktop. Therefore, the mobile optimisation of your website is becoming increasingly important in order to obtain a good rating in Google. 

Google is now emphasising 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 optimisation is an absolute must on your SEO checklist!

Do: Video is the future

YouTube is almost synonymous with SEO: it is the second largest search engine in the world. The perfect platform for advertising. Here are some tips to score better on YouTube:

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

Are you not using YouTube? That's possible, but social media are also increasingly playing into video content. You are probably active there. Video content on your website? Certainly! It can ensure that 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 principle? Here is a crash course in link building.

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 links 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 somewhat in recent years. The principle used to be: the more links point to your webpage, the more important Google considers this page to be. Now an extra rule has been added: relevance. The more relevant your webpage and the more relevant your links, the higher you will score in Google.

Furthermore, there are outbound links: you can link to an external website, for example, to supplement a blog post with extra information on a certain subject. Google recognises relevant websites, so this is definitely a plus.

Unfortunately, both directions are often 'spammed' 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 are not worth anything in the long run and they make sure that your website gets little or no trust from your customers and from Google. Another example is a contentless blog full of links to get better rankings. In some cases, Google will immediately penalise this and you will be removed from their query.

Conclusion: link building without relevant and diverse content is useless. So make sure your website is relevant for 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 only advantages. Here's the thing: search engines can only read text. Specifically, they read the text on your website but do not see what is in your images.

It is therefore important to give the image an alt text and a relevant file name. This ensures that Google knows what the image is about. This will give you good points for a higher ranking in Google.

Don't: optimise 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 your page evaluation. The structure itself now weighs more heavily. For example, you could take an H2 as a title and write a subsequent H3 title.

Furthermore, it is best to make sure that your most important concept is at the top of the page. That way, you optimise the user experience, because you immediately tell people what your page is about. 

Tip: Use your keywords in the first 150 words of your website, Google is sensitive to that.

Do: Visitor experience is a must.

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

Tip: to optimise 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 are rewarded when they offer relevant content. So we are changing our content marketing to a strategy that is helpful for the user, not for our numbers.

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