This article was originally published in Ampersand & La Perluète, the Quebec national newsletter
for editors and writers of the Editors’ Association of Canada.


Your 10-Step SEO Health Check

If you have a website, how can you ensure that yours is the one that clients find when they’re searching for you?

Use natural search engine optimization (SEO) to boost your rankings on search engines like Google and Bing.

Follow this 10-Step SEO Health Check to find out if you’re bringing visibility to your website.

1. Start with a solid, search engine-friendly design

Make sure your site is W3C compliant, loads quickly, and contains no broken links or coding errors. Use this validator to test your structure.

2. Select the keywords that best describe your business

Do your research and think like your clients. Which search words would you use to find someone in your business? If you’re not sure where to start, try SEOMoz’s Keyword Research guide.

3. Sprinkle your keywords effectively

Your keywords must be scattered throughout your copy in a natural way. Use a unique set of keywords for each page of your site. Remember that your main audience is the client, not the search engine robot.

Your keywords should also be “under the hood” of your website: in image ALT descriptions, Title metatags, Description tags, and H1 and H2 content tags. Check out some examples of html meta tags.

Not sure how to update your tags? Focus first on your text, and hire a web designer to do the rest.

4. Create relevant content, update it frequently

A website that has been revised for SEO can be technically perfect for search-engine robots, but it won’t be any good without informative content (contextual and editorial value) for humans.

Take care of the ’bots, but write for the humans. What would your clients want to see on your site?

5. Make new friends — establish a good hyperlinking strategy

Relevant links improve your equity on search engines. Get your site listed in relevant industry sites and directories and with partners, suppliers, or clients.

Keep your links simple and logical, and be selective in setting up reciprocal links.

Are you on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook)? Remember to link to these, too, if they’re appropriate for business.

6. Create a sitemap

Make sure your site has a sitemap: it’s simply a page on your website that has an outline of the structure and relationship of the pages of your site. Use this free sitemap generator.

7. Revise your robots.txt file

Robots.txt files are text files on your website server that tell search engine spiders which pages to index and which to ignore. Be aware that this is a publicly available file, so don’t use it to hide information. Read up on the robots.txt files.

8. What does the search engine see on your site?

Run a spider simulator to find out what exactly is being indexed on your site. Adjust your meta tags, links, content and robots file accordingly.

9. Use the internet to enrich your knowledge

The web is full of training guides, examples, and tools that can help you.

If you have a Gmail (Google) account, you can sign in to check out your Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools). There’s a ton of information to help you SEO your site.

Try other free resources on SEO training to enhance your understanding.

10. Too busy editing to SEO your site?

That’s great news – that’s the end result you’re aiming for! Hopefully, this means you’re busy running your business thanks to the new clients your site is attracting.

If you can’t dedicate time to optimizing your site, consult an expert. If you have a solid client list, do you need to spend the time, money, and effort optimizing your site?

Remember, good SEO ranking for a website is a journey, not a destination. It’s not necessarily the most appropriate strategy for everyone: SEO may drive clients to your site, but it’s up to you ensure that this translates to actual business!