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Your Company's 2013 Website Optimization Checklist

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Your Company's 2013 Website Optimization Checklist

Building a website optimization strategy for your company is paramount for its success online. It's key to create an actionable plan with realistic and well-defined goals.

This checklist is designed to help you and your company's marketing team tailor a results-oriented website optimization strategy. Whether for better website usability, visibility, or conversion potential, there are a number of elements that go into the website optimization process. Below we outline several ways in which your company can improve its website for better performance.

Optimize the Website's Navigation

A critical component of having a well-optimized website is its navigation. Navigation focuses on the structure and organization of pages, as well as how pages are linked together throughout the website.

Optimizing the navigation of your company's website addresses both SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimization.) In many respects, the emphasis is similar to structuring a textbook. Think of each primary category of the website as a main chapter, and the site's sub-categories (or individual pages) as sections that support each chapter.

From an on-site SEO perspective (and to strengthen a website's "domain authority") having more sub-categories and individual pages supporting a chapter will help bolster keyword relevancy and overall domain-level authority. A cohesive and logically-structured navigation can also help to ensure visitors can efficiently make their way around the website.

Optimize the Website's "Focal Pages"

Keyword optimization is a primary aspect of the SEO process. In order for your company's website to attain its fullest SEO potential, the "focal pages" of the website must include keywords in the proper places. Focal pages are core pages of your website that will bolster SEO value, such as the product and service pages.

Whether your website has 2 or 200 focal pages, the process is the same per page. The actual "optimization" of these pages consists of mentioning targeted keywords in the right places. These include:

  • the URL (e.g. www.domain.com/keyword-target/)
  • the page title (or "Meta title")
  • the Meta description
  • the page copy

It's important to note that a high keyword density is not the way to go. In fact, keyword stuffing is a risk that can get your website penalized (with respect to Google Panda.) Based on the best practices of on-page SEO, the optimal keyword density is about 2-3%.

Lastly, focal pages should only be optimized for 1 or 2 closely related keyword targets. Attempting to optimize a page for 3 or more keywords is inefficient and wasted effort. Instead try to create dedicated pages whenever possible.

Optimize the Website's Internal Linking

In short, optimized internal linking is the art and practice of linking one relevant page of your website with another. The art comes in how you balance the anchor text of internal links for keyword relevancy.

The primary purpose of internal linking is for better usability. For this reason, it's best to approach this practice with a logical and user-focused mindset.

However, optimized internal linking can also aid SEO. Similar to an inbound (or "external") link, the anchor text used for the link can help a search engine spider determine its keyword relevancy. So in addition to usability, you can implement internal linking with keyword-optimized anchor text.

You’ll want to be careful not to go over-board in using keyword-optimized (exact phrase match) anchor text. In light of Google's algorithm updates ("Penguin") that penalizes sites that overuse keyword-targeted anchor text (both internally and externally,) keep your linking as natural as possible, and only use keyword-relevant anchor text when it makes logical sense.

Optimize the Website's CTA's

An important component of your company's website optimization efforts is the use of calls-to-action, or "CTA’s." By testing the appearance and placement of CTA’s, you can maximize the conversion potential of your company's website traffic.

The CTA’s of your company’s website should be well aligned with its online conversion goals. If your optimizing an ecommerce website, the goal of your CTA’s will center on immediate purchases and newsletter sign-ups. As a result, you'll want to leverage sales promotions and customer incentives to get people to register on your site, or buy a product.

To determine the most effective call-to-action, testing multiple variations is key. Whether it’s the copy, graphic design, or the placement of the CTA, you’ll want to try-out and keep track of split-tests to ensure you know what's working effectively.

Optimize the Website's Back-end

The load speed of your website can directly correlate to its back-end, or HTML code structure. If you’re company is using a content management system (CMS) that generates a back-end structure of nestled tables and other robust coding structures, the load speed of the website may be hindered.

The coding structure of your company's website can indicate of how efficiently it gets crawled and indexed by search engine spiders. In short, a website takes several seconds to load (using a high-speed connection) may not be reaching its full SEO potential. To determine the approximate load speed of your company's website, try using this handy tool. If it takes several seconds for the website to load, you may need to optimize the HTML, or flip your company's website to a different, more SEO-friendly CMS.

Optimize the Website's Sitemaps

Next to the homepage, the sitemap of your company's website is one of the most important pages. The sitemap should withhold the entire navigation of the site, containing links to all primary pages.

In essence, the sitemap brings everything together like an index and it serves as a roadmap for search engine spiders. For deep websites with hundreds and thousands of pages, creating segmented sitemaps is a great website optimization technique.

Segmented sitemaps are essentially as the name implies. You simply break-down and segment a lengthy sitemap into relevant groupings for their own dedicated sitemap. For instance, if your company has a blog that publishes posts weekly or every other day, you can create segmented blog sitemap to contain links to all of you blog posts.

After you've created a sitemap, or segmented sitemaps, you can then generate XML versions of each sitemap. XML sitemaps are submit individually to your website’s Google Webmaster Tools account. This tells Google the pages of your website that are ready to be crawled and indexed.

About the Author:

Tyler Tafelsky is a SEO and Internet marketing specialist at the Web Presence Group, a professional website optimization company and branch of OIC Group.

Tyler offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and has handled a spectrum of campaigns on both a global and local level. You can contact him directly via email at tyler@webpresencegroup.net or you can connect with Tyler on Google+.

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