Forget about losing weight, quitting smoking, or getting up an hour early to meditate: your New Year’s resolution should be to create a fully optimized site that grabs the attention of search engines and humans alike. Here are a few must-dos to help you make 2013 a big success.
Today, we’re going to get into the backroom elements that can make or break your SEO campaign. First up is auditing your site. It sounds as much fun as being audited by the tax authorities, but it is a necessity.
- Start by crawling your site with a tool like SEOptimer, SEO Spider from Screaming Frog, or SpyOnWeb.com. You can spot problems that may be keeping engines, like Google, from crawling and indexing your site.
- Look at your information architecture: is your site navigation intuitive? Is like content grouped together and easy to get to? Do you label categories and navigation links correctly and consistently? Do you use targeted keywords?
- Look for 301s, 302s, and 404s. You want to fix the 404s immediately, and then determine if you’re using the 301s and 302s correctly so as not to lose link juice.
- Look for broken links and check that your sitemap is up and running.
- Test your site loading time. This has a huge impact on CRO as well.
Another important step is to make sure that your site is easily accessible. You can validate it through the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) here. This checks the markup validity of your site, which is crucial. Proper markup helps make your site more crawlable and visible to those human readers you’re trying to capture.
One more tip for today: clean up your links. Start with a link audit (you can find free tools online to help you do this). Obviously, you want only high-quality links. To this end, don’t buy any and don’t use link farms. You have to work to cultivate good links, and you should make sure they come from a variety of sources (blogs, articles, social media, etc.).
Next time, we’ll talk about some content tips that will help you start 2013 off on the right foot.