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15 Step SEO Checklist for 2015

Entering into the New Year of 2015, Google’s algorithm is changing at a rapid pace. It was recently announced by the search engine behemoth that its “Penguin” algorithm is going to be rolling-out on a consistent basis. This doesn’t even include the Panda or Hummingbird algorithm updates.

Website owners and online marketers who want to appear high on Google need to be aware of the trends of search engine optimization entering the New Year. If you are proactive and follow the proper guidelines set by Google, you can reap the benefits of increased organic traffic and a stellar Google presence.

We have mapped out a “15-Step Checklist” to follow for your website to ensure that you are well prepared for 2015 in regards to search engine optimizations constantly changing algorithm. If you are to properly follow the checklist, you can be a king in 2015 when it comes to your SEO.

1. Title Tags:

The title tags on your homepage and tertiary pages of your website are one of the most important SEO signals to Google. According to Moz, Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, or as many characters as will fit into a 512-pixel display. If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly.

Make sure your title tags fit within the appropriate character length and are relevant to your company’s service offered and the location of your business.

2. On-Page Content:

Including the keywords that you have placed in your title tags 3-4 times (naturally) within the actual page content on your website will help Google realize what type of product or services that your business is offering. You don’t want to stuff the keywords into the paragraphs within your website. Making sure they are placed in a way that will be fluent to the readers is another step in the right direction for your SEO.

The content on your website should be unique. What exactly does this mean? Unique content simply means that those words, in that order, don't appear anywhere else on the web.

3. URL and H1 Tags:

The H1 tag is another great place to insert various keywords for your business. If you are a “Dentist in Dayton” don’t just put “Premier Dentist” in your H1 tag. Otherwise, Google will not be as likely to pick on the location of your practice. Make sure to optimize the H1 tag so it is pertinent to your company and the location of where you are based!

Additionally, if you incorporate relevant keywords into your URL, this can have an added SEO benefit. According to Rand Fishkin, an SEO guru, recommends the "perfect" keyword placement in the title element or a URL for better user experience, a higher chance of having my content shared on social networks, or a better click-through rate in the search results.

4. Link Building:

The amount of high quality backlinks pointing to your website is a strong indicator of the overall strength of your site that Google determines. Take note that we mentioned HIGH QUALITY LINKS. If you are a Dayton Dentist, getting a link from the Better Business Bureau and the American Dental Association are the perfect types of links that should point back to you site. The last thing you want is inorganic links that could put you into Google’s penalty box. Make sure you are reaching out to authoritative and trusted sites to link back to you. This will build the overall strength of your site, and can eventually help you rank high on Google.

Google provides an explanation on what manipulating page rank would look like. Make sure that you are abiding to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines when formulating a link building strategy. 

5. Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird:

Have you invested a lot of money into SEO and are nowhere to be found on Google? You might have been hit with one of its algorithm updates such as Penguin, Panda or Hummingbird. Like we mentioned at the beginning of the article, SEO can be a tricky field and Google continues to roll out with algorithm updates. If you think you have been hit with an algorithm update, follow @BarrySchwartz and @MarieHaynes as they provide amazing insight into the SEO algorithm updates.

It will also be beneficial to look at any major spikes in your website traffic and see if it correlates with any of the dates that Google released an algorithm update.

6. Blogging:

When you create blog content for your website, this counts as fresh and updated content in the eyes of Google. Writing unique content that will drive more traffic to your website is definitely a good move that Google will like. Additionally, if you are writing unique content for your website that pertains to your industry, you could drive more leads for your business. This would all come thanks to your awesome blog!

Search Engine Watch recommends the following tips for maintaining a successful blog:

·      Write about news events

·      Write about product or service launches, changes in your industry and related areas.

·      Watch Google Trends and Twitter

7. Social Media:

Nowadays, the search engines are able to pick up on whether or not you have a large social media following. A solid social media strategy can definitely help catapult your businesses SEO efforts in 2015.

Imagine if you write an amazing article that you share via social media and this content goes viral and gets shared on hundreds of websites. All of the links pointing back to your website could have a tremendous SEO benefit and social media was the backbone behind this effort. Make sure to incorporate social media into your SEO efforts. Good things happen when more people see your site or brand.

8. Video:   

Did you know that Google owns YouTube? The search engine giant shows favoritism towards videos created on YouTube. If you were to conduct a Google search, you will see a video thumbnail often times on the first or second page of Google. This can provide a big boost for your SEO efforts.

There are more than 6 billion hours of videos watched each month on YouTube. For the upcoming year, create videos for your business and optimize them properly for the search engines. This can help drive more traffic and exposure for your business!

9. Audit:

Before you take a deep dive into your SEO efforts, make sure to have an expert conduct an audit of your current efforts. This can take just a few hours for a professional from the outside to analyze.

An SEO expert will be able to determine the quality of links pointing back to your site, the on and off page SEO content and how you are faring versus the competition.

SEO is similar in a sense to performing surgery. It can be a very delicate area so you want to make sure you have someone performing the surgery that is an expert. 

10. Public Relations:

Someone on your staff should be spending several hours a week conducting “Digital PR.” What exactly is digital PR? This is the practice of reaching out to websites trying to get their publication to do a write-up on your company.

If a well-known website links back to your site or mentions your company name, this can pay big dividends for the SEO of your website.

If you are a tennis club, have your club professional reach out to the top twenty tennis related websites. If you make a pitch to write content on their website, this can drive a boatload of web traffic and awareness for your club. It will also make your business (in this case, the tennis club) an even more authoritative figure within the industry.

11. Optimized Photos:

Did you know that Google can pick-up on the way that you name the images on your website? If you incorporate keywords pertaining to your business in the Alt Tags, this can positively impact your website if this is properly executed.  
 

According to QuickSprout.com, because search engines can’t read images, you need to use alt tags to help describe your image. Google image search only gets a half a percent of Google’s overall traffic. But due to blended search results, images actually get a lot more traffic than that half a percent.

12. Google+

There is a lot of chatter about the failure of Google+ as a social network. When it comes to the main benefit of Google+, it is definitely the positive impact that it can have for your search engine optimization.

Slideshare.net provides great insight on 8 tips for optimizing your Google+ page posts to boost SEO.

Google My Business is directly connected to Google+. If your Google My Business page is properly optimized and contains all of the localized information for your business, this can help your company appear higher in the localized search results.

According to Google, Google My Business helps you build a loyal fan base. Your customers can show their appreciation with ratings and reviews, use the +1 button to endorse your content, and re-share your Google+ posts across the web.

13. Company Photos:

Sticking on the Google+ train, if you conduct a branded search query for your companies name on Google, you will notice that your Google+ page will appear on the right hand side of Google’s search query. (If your page has been created and properly connected to your site).

Make sure to add compelling photos of your business. It is important to leave a good first impression when people are searching for your company.

Just imagine if a family is debating between two pizza restaurants for dinner. If there is a delicious image of a slice of pizza on the right hand side of Google when someone searches for your company, this can make a big difference in the decision making process.

14. Research:

Search Engine Optimization is a field that is constantly changing. Whether you are conducting the SEO for your business or if you have an outsider helping out, it is crucial to follow all of the industry news.

If you have seen a downtick in traffic, you will want to know whether or not this is related to an algorithm change. Staying fresh on SEO related material will help you come up with new ideas for your SEO strategy and stay in-line with Google’s quality guidelines.

Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and MOZ are all great sites for search engine optimization with extremely resourceful articles.

15. Google Webmaster:

Are you familiar with Google Webmaster? If the answer is no, you need to familiarize yourself with this tool in 2015. For SEO, this is the official source of truth in terms of your keyword ranking positioning on Google. It will also tell you how much organic traffic is coming to your website from various keywords and the links that are pointing back to your site.

Familiarizing yourself with Google Webmaster will just add another tool to your digital marketing arsenal in 2015.

In conclusion, 2015 is a great time to put search engine optimization at the forefront of your marketing efforts. If you master SEO, you can catapult towards the top of Google and increase your website traffic, leads and overall business. Be careful though, with Google’s constantly changing algorithm, it is important to stay up-to-date on the ever-changing rules pertaining to SEO.
 

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