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Perth Brand and Marketing Strategist - Nicole Hailwood

​From higher education to local council, community groups and small business, Nicole has worked across a wide range of organisations throughout her 10+ years in the marketing game. She also carries a Bachelor of Communication & Master of Business Studies with Distinction in Communication.

Strategically minded and creatively wired, Nicole has the ability to carry out both big picture high-level planning, as well as finer detail execution with flair.

She's big on quality over quantity, always encouraging her clients to focus on value-packed content and doing things in alignment. Above all else, she lives for creating meaningful CONNECTION and showing her clients how they can grow their business through relationships, referrals and strong branding that creates a loyal and emotional bond.

NICOLE HAILWOOD

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simple SEO Starter Checklist

Getting started with SEO? Here’s a checklist of the basics.

Straight off the cuff, I’ll say this, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes consistency and time to build a site that ranks on Google. However,  when creating or updating your website there are certainly a few key basics you can focus on to help propel your site out of the starting blocks.


With as little technical jargon as possible, this blog includes 10 simple SEO checklist items for beginners.


SEO-starter-checklist-by-Marketing-Strategist-Perth-Nicole

FIRST, LET'S TALK SEO IN A NUTSHELL


Short for Search Engine Optimisation, SEO is all about trying to increase your website's organic ranking in search results. The higher up you are, the more likely it is that someone will click on your site and buy from you or enquire to work with you. 


For a search engine to do its job well it must give the searcher search results that it believes will satisfy their query the best. To determine what search results to show, search engines use hundreds of indicators. Some of these will come from the searcher themselves and involve things like their location, their search history, and other information the search engine knows about them. The majority, though, come from the websites themselves. Search engines use indicators that help them figure out how well the website satisfies user intent - i.e. does the website answer the questions people are asking and does it help them to achieve what they are aiming to achieve. 


These indicators fall into one of the three categories:

  1. On-Page SEO - This refers to what’s on the website itself and includes things like your page format, content & keywords, and design. 

  2. Technical SEO - This is about ensuring your site functions well, and that bots can easily crawl and index your site for it to show in search results.

  3. Off-Page - This refers to what happens beyond your website and the level of authority and trust your site appears to have.


Each of the items in this checklist fall into one of these categories. Let’s begin with the On-Page SEO items.



ON-PAGE SEO CHECKLIST


1. KNOW & USE YOUR KEYWORDS

If you want your website to rank on Google you have to know what you want it to rank for. This is where keywords come in. There are different types of keywords such as head, short-tail and long-tail, but without getting technical keywords are the words or phrases your audience are typing into Google when trying to find you. 


There are a bunch of awesome keyword tools out there to help you research what these keywords and phrases are. SEMrush is my fave. A lot of the time, for your basic web pages (Home, About, Services, Products, etc) these keywords will be fairly obvious and closely related to what you do/sell/offer. 


Once you’ve decided on your keywords for each page, make sure your content includes them. At the very least, your keywords should appear in your H1 headings, backend page set up, main page content and image alt text. Always remember to use keywords in a natural way, don’t force them in. Although we want the bots to like your site, the site is not for them, it’s for your people. Everything you write and design should be to please your people.


2. FORMAT YOUR CONTENT CORRECTLY

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SEO Content Formatting

When writing website content and inserting it onto the page, make sure the different parts of the text are formatted correctly. Each page should have only one h1 heading. This is then followed by h2 headings, and if needed h3 & h4. Paragraph text should be set as paragraph.


Creatively use keywords in your headings, especially h1. Formatting your content correctly not only helps the reader easily scan and navigate your page to find what they’re looking for, it helps bots do the same and makes it easier for them to know what the page is about. 




3. COMPLETE PAGE BACK END SETUP

By page setup I’m referring to the backend elements of the page that determine how it shows in search results, namely your meta titles and descriptions, your URL slug and your favicon. Here’s my best practice tips for each:


Page-Titles-and-Descriptions-Cannect-Communications-Perth
Page Titles and Descriptions
Meta Title
  • Keep it under 60 characters

  • Use related page keywords

  • Include your business name

  • If appropriate, include your location


Meta Description
  • Keep it under 160 characters

  • Use related page keywords

  • Make it enticing

  • Include a Call to Action


URL Slugs
  • Keep them short

  • Separate words with a dash - not an underscore _

  • Use keywords e.g /brand-design is a good URL slug for a page about branding design packages


Favicon
  • Set a branded site Favicon about 50px x 50px in size



4. OPTIMISE YOUR IMAGES

Make sure your images work for you, not against you. 


Optimise image size

Large images slow down your site’s load time, which is off-putting for users and a red flag for SEO.If your image file sizes are huge, use an online tool to compress them. This will decrease the size without decreasing the quality. If you’re a Wix user, the software has auto-compression built in (although where possible, it still pays to choose smaller file sizes if you have them available).


Set image alt text

For every image that's not purely decorative, set the alt text. Alt text is descriptive text for an image that's stored in your website's code. It's primarily used for accessibility purposes to help those visually impaired know what’s in the images. That said, it also helps the bots know too. Be a little savvy and describe the image using keywords and context. For example, for a photo of myself I might use the alt text “Nicole Hailwood, Perth brand designer drawing on iPad.”


Use proper file names

It's not just the alt text that bots read in order to understand what's in your image. They take a look at the file name too. So instead of "DC1074696" rename your photo files with short and descriptive text (again using keywords where it makes sense to do so). For example you may write: “Nicole-Hailwood-Brand-Designer”.


Tip: It's best practice to use hyphens instead of spaces for image file names.


5. OPTIMISE FOR MOBILE

There’s one thing that really irks me these days and it’s when web pages are not designed for mobile. Not only does good mobile optimisation help me sleep better at night, it enhances your user experience, which is a big old tick in Google’s eyes. 


If you’re using Wix or Squarespace to design your web pages, when you’ve finished beautifying the desktop view jump across and do the same for mobile. The software doesn’t always (rarely ever) get it right, and the mobile view requires finessing, reordering or removing elements. Sometimes a layout that works schmick for desktop looks absolute shit on mobile. Due to the increased scroll time on mobile, sometimes the layout may need adjusting to ensure the important stuff is near the top and large chunks of text are broken up with images, buttons, etc. 


Oh and for the love of all good things, make sure your content fits the page on mobile and users don’t have to horizontally scroll. Pls. Thx.


6. DEMONSTRATE E-E-A-T

This one comes to play in both on and off page SEO, but for now let’s focus on the on-page. E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust. Content that shows you’ve got each of these nailed is more likely to rank. 


A few ways to do this include:

  • Add your own voice, perspective and intellect to your content. This is especially so if you’re using AI tools like Chat GPT. Don’t just copy and paste. Show the system you know what you’re talking about and give them some concrete examples to prove it.

  • Include an author bio on your blog pages and make sure it includes information like your qualifications, and your years and type of experience on the subject matter.

  • Include testimonials on your website and encourage raving fans to write Google reviews. 

  • Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet, just a lil.



TECHNICAL SEO CHECKLIST


7. CONNECT YOUR SITE WITH GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE

This is important. For your site to show in search results it must be connected to Search Console. If it’s not connected, Google can’t crawl and index the pages for them to show in search results. Google Search Console is free, and Wix has an easy built-in feature to connect your site. Once connected, every time you update your site your indexing and sitemap will be automatically updated too.


Sometimes there are pages that you don’t want to show in search results. Be sure to tell Google this by toggling the option in your page settings.


Wix-Index-Toggle-Cannect-Communications-Perth
Wix Index Toggle

8. CHECK YOUR CORE WEB VITALS

Things like slow load times, broken links, 404 errors and unlinked pages are all no-no’s in SEO. Once your site is connected to Search Console, keep an eye on your Core Web Vitals and fix any issues ASAP. 


You want to ensure:

  • All links and buttons go to the right place.

  • Users can access pretty much anything within two clicks.

  • Any pages that no longer exist are set up with redirects. 

  • Each page on your site is linked to another page.



OFF PAGE SEO


9. CREATE & CONNECT A GOOGLE BUSINESS PROFILE

A Google Business profile is especially important if you work from a premise or serve a local area. If you don’t already have a profile for your business, go to business.google.com and create one. The give your profile love by:


  • Including your logo, images of your products & services, and a good description of who you are and what you do. 

  • Filling in all necessary contact, service and location details. 

  • Adding FAQ’s for questions you get asked often or that those searching may want to know straight away

  • Hustle for Google reviews (these help demonstrate E-E-A-T) 

  • Reply to said Google reviews

  • VERIFY YOUR PROFILE - This can sometimes be a real pain in the ass to do. If you’ve ever had to do “the video” verification, you’ll know. Hubby had to request about 6 postcards before one eventually came in the mail. BUT IT IS SUPER IMPORTANT to do to validate the profile and its legitimacy.


10. DRIVE PEOPLE TO YOUR SITE

A really good way to tell Google, “Hey my site is epic, you should show it to more people” is to actively send people to your site. It’s a bit like the chicken and egg sitch. If you send people to your site, and they get what they want from it, this signals to Google that your site is satisfying its users. A few stellar ways to do this include:


  • Creating a custom links page for your Instagram profile link. Think, something that looks like a LinkTree, but instead is a hidden page on your website.

  • Regularly writing blogs then sharing those blogs via email, html links on Facey, as links in your Instagram links page, etc. 

  • If you’re launching a course, an event, anything - create the landing page on your website. Don’t give all those juicy clicks to a third-party biz like your email software provider, they’ve got enough traffic. If you don’t want the page to show in your main menu, hide it.



GET STARTED WITH SEO


Sooo yea, that’s about as simple as I can make it. Like I said, SEO is a marathon not a sprint, and there’s a fair bit to it. Hopefully though I’ve given enough info to help you on your way without totally losing you at the first point. 


If you’re feeling a bit like, wtf - don’t stress. I did not get SEO at all in my early days. Even now it’s still something I am constantly researching and up-skilling in. Like most things in the digital world, it’s ever-evolving. 


If you want a helping hand with getting these basic nutted out on your site, give me a shout. We can do it together.







With good vibes,

Nicole

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