Although it is probably not something that you want to think about just yet, the fact of the matter is that 2019 is not too far away, so it is worth starting to plan for what the next year will bring. With that in mind, it is often useful to create a checklist of things that should be done. It’s no different with your site’s SEO. There are things that should be followed up on to make sure that you are on track and prepared for 2019.
Here is a brief list of some of the important aspects of SEO that you might want to review before the new year arrives.
Make the Switch to HTTPS
While you may not know that HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, you’ve seen this letter combination many times already. Website names have long been preceded by HTTP (minus the “s” for “secure”), but now Google will label any site that is not HTTPS as “not secure.” As a result, you will want to do this as soon as possible if you have not already. The longer you wait to make the switch, the more difficult it will be.
Make sure that HTTP always redirects to HTTPS and not a 404 page and ensure that your setup is secure by running a secure socket layer (SSL) test.
Check for Server Errors
Crawl your site to check for any errors. You should not have any 301 or 302 errors, but if you do, it indicates that you are linking to URLs that redirect. Update those links that are redirecting. Remove links to 404 or 5xx pages, as these pages do not even exist, or are broken.
Check that an extensible markup language (XML) sitemap has been uploaded to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. It should be dynamic and updated with the addition of each new page that is added.
The sitemap must use the appropriate URL structure (HTTP vs HTTPS, www vs non-www) and this should be consistent.
Posting to Social Media
Posting to social media not only gives you more exposure, but also helps to ensure that your pages are indexed and visible in search results.
Use an automatic poster for your blog or any part of your site that is frequently updated, but make sure that the content is a good match for social media.
Check that any rich snippets are showing correctly and verify that they are not broken. It may be that Google simply won’t show the snippets, but you want to be sure that if they are missing, it is not due to errors.
Google offers a test that will verify if your site is mobile-friendly, which it definitely should be now that Google has moved to a mobile-first index. The test will reveal how visitors will experience your site on mobile devices.
Make sure that the primary keywords that you are targeting are present in your title tag. Do not, however, repeat title keyword variations in the title tag. Place your most important keywords at the beginning of the tag, unless it becomes awkward to do so; a proper title is more important than the keyword in most cases.
It is a good idea to crawl your site in order to be aware of any missing meta descriptions. Note, however, that not every page needs one, as there are some cases where Google’s automatic snippet is actually quite good.
Avoid using duplicate meta descriptions, as they will have a negative effect, but do use key phrases naturally.
These are just some of the items that should be on your checklist. With SEO, it is easy to get caught up in new trends, but it is also important to remember to implement those things that are known from experience to work.
If all of this is confusing or overwhelming to you, contact us at Marwick Marketing so we can help!