Step 1. Semantic core and keyword research
Analyze competitors’ keywords
Competitor research is a primary stage of the keywords collecting. The logic is simple: if a competitor's website is ranked in the SERP’s top it contains keywords that already worked well for search engines, which means that these keywords may work for your website as well.
Collect core keywords
A semantic core of a website is a collection of keywords that a) describe a business (product or service) and b) help promote the site and achieve better SERPs results.
Group the keywords from the final list
Keyword grouping refers to splitting the full list of keywords into semantic clusters. It allows to distribute the keywords between the site’s pages and to avoid keyword cannibalization - when several pages of the one site compete for the rankings for the same query.
Step 2. On-Site Optimization
Install a Web Analytics Tool and Set Up Goals
Web analytics tools monitor how much traffic your website is acquiring and how your visitors are interacting with your website. In order to measure performance you need to set goals. The goals in the web analysis refer to a particular user’s action (a registration, a transaction, etc.) that the site’s owner defines as the targeted action . Setting up goals help define marketing strategy and make adjustments on a fly.
Add a Website into Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free instrument from Google that tracks site's rankings in Google Search results. It is a mediator between the engine and a webmaster that helps understand how the search engine ranks the website. It also helps to reveal site’s errors. , what o pages are indexed and which ones are blocked. Generally, Search Console data shows what to fix in order to enhance the site’s search performance.
Develop a logical site structure
Structure of the website is the way different elements of the site (sections, subsections, pages) are correlated and linked with each other. The structure should be transparent and logical so the search robots could easily scan the site and find all its pages.
Secure a website by moving to HTTPS
HTTPS is an HTTP Secure - an adaptation of HTTP for safe communication. It is needed to maintain site’s security so no information such as visitors actions or their contact details is retrievable. The presence of https protocol has been an influential ranking signal since 2014.
Define a prefered domain (www or non-www)
For search engines www.redirectit.com and redirectit.com are two different pages, so defining the prefered domain will help avoid page duplication.
Create a robots.txt file
Robots.txt is a file which purpose is to stop search robots from indexing particular pages of a website, i.g. pages with the sensitive data: personal profiles, internal database information, files intended only for the internal use etc.
Create XML sitemap
The file sitemap.xml is an xml text file that contains information about the pages of the site to be indexed (URLs, the date of their last modification, the priority and frequency of the update, and more). Sitemap.xml helps search robots find all website pages and index them faster.
Make URLs SEO Friendly
SEO-friendly URL means that it is easily readable and includes proper keywords: /how-to-create-good-url instead of /xn--80ajgxi.xn--80aqcc%31bjd0be.xn--p1ai/. An optimized URL lets both users and search robots understand the content of the page right away. This positively affects the page’s ranking.
Breadcrumbs are graphic elements used for navigation assistance. They show a route of transitions between site's pages. Breadcrumbs help search engines understand a hierarchy of the website’s pages. Search machines can parse the breadcrumbs data and display them in snippets. The snippets provide users with a short and attractive description of the page.
Check HTTP status codes
HTTP status code is a server’s response to a request of a browser that comes in a form of a three-digit code, where the first digit indicates one of the standard response classes. Regular review of the status codes allows to control whether all pages of the website work as they are supposed to. Search engines may lower the rankings of a website with a lot of pages that contain wrong response codes.
Use Canonical URLs
A lot of of websites have pages that contain the same information. Search engines may consider it as a duplicated content. An attribute rel="canonical" shows search robots which of the pages with the same content is preferable for indexing.
Check the markup validity of web documents in HTML
The validity means how the code conforms to the open standards. If a website’s HTML code contains a lot of errors, it may negatively impact the website’s ranking.
Fix broken links
Broken links can harm user experience and thus, harm behavioral signals of a website. Non-working links discourage users from further work on the site. For search engines a broken link means an error. If a site has a great number of such errors search engine robots will mark it as a low quality website and decrease its overall search ranking.
Mind the number of outbound links
If a website has a lot of non-relevant outbound links, search engines can consider its activity as a smap. Thus, the search rankings of the site may drop dramatically.
Improve Page Speed
Page speed refers to the time needed to load the page content. It is one of the influential Google ranking signals.
Create a 404-error page
A 404 status code is a response to a non-existing page. It may occur if a page was redirected, deleted, renamed or if a user mistyped URL, etc. All non-found pages should be redirected to a 404-error page that will inform users what has happened and what they need to do to proceed.
Step 3. Mobile optimization
Create a mobile version of a website
The share of users who prefer browsing websites using mobile devices instead desktop keeps increasing. So the mobile website should be tailored for the smaller screen to accommodate user experience via mobile. Since April 2015, website's mobile optimization has become a factor of Google search rankings.
Improve mobile loading speed using AMP
Loading speed impacts user experience greatly and it is also an important factor for search ranking. Google leads a project called AMP - accelerated mobile pages - a technology for improving performance of mobile sites.
Step 4. Content strategy
Optimize H-tags (heading tags)
Heading tags are parts of the HTML code that indicate a title (a heading) and subheadings on a page. There are six levels of heading tags: from H1 (the most influential) to H6 (the least influential). A proper distribution of keywords between H-tags shows the search robots which keywords are more important than others.
Use Alt tags for every image
Alt tag is an attribute within an img tag. It is a short (up to 5 words) description of a picture it is related to. Alt tag helps search engines understand faster what’s on a picture. Alt tag also help users: if by any reason an image is not displayed, users will see its description.
Optimize content both for robots and humans
Search robots are on the user’s side - they appreciate a unique and useful content. It’s crucial to include keywords in your content, but they need to make sense and look natural.
Create fresh and trendy content
A website’s content should correspond to user's demand: be eye-catching and relevant.
Develop a content plan
The content plan is a list of content pieces with defined due dates. Regular content updates on a site plays a significant role in the website’s ranking.Content plan helps keep track of the upcoming pieces of content streamlining the processes of content creating and publishing.
Step 5. Off-Site Optimization
Mind both a quantity and quality of a site’s backlinks
Backlinks - the links that lead from different web sources to our website - play significant role in a search ranking of the site. It’s important to mind the balance between a quantity and a quality of backlinks since both of them impact the backlink profile.
Cooperate with websites by sharing relevant content within the niche
One of the crucial factors of a backlink quality refers to the relevance of the host website. The backlink from a website that is thematically related is more valuable than a link from an authoritative but unrelated site. That is why one should exchange and post guest-blogging articles in resources that are popular in the targeted niche.
Participate in forum discussions
Users potentially interested in some product or service often browse relevant forums searching for fresh information and reviews. Active participation in forums or blogs discussions can contribute to the website’s ranking and stimulate traffic growth.
Encourage users to write reviews about your service
There are review aggregators where users share their opinion about services/products and make a decision whether to try the service/product. Search engines evaluate mentions and reviews of a website, so the reviews impact the ranking, especially in local SEO.
Use images, videos, and documents for website promotion
Infographics, videos, webinars, podcasts, PDF documents, and images are types of a shareable content that can increase search visibility of the website in video, image and document search results. The key for efficient use of multimedia files lies in the proper optimization.
Step 6: Social media strategy
Learn the Social Signals Model of the Industry
Shares in social media increase the visibility of the page and its user engagement metrics which lead to the growth of the page’s ranking. Before starting a social media campaign, one should define the type of content that would strike for a particular business segment.
Use Open Graph Protocol for Social Media Posts
Open Graph is a protocol that allows to control the look of social media posts sharing articles from a website. It is a set of meta-tags that structure the information (a headline, a description, a preview) in the post so it could attract more clicks and shares.