Babies by iluvcocacola on FlickrGoogle published a really good video titled “SEO for startups in 10 minutes.” It provides a great review of what a company needs to do when launching a new website. However, it’s also a nice checklist anyone can use in order to audit their own search engine optimization efforts.

Here are the steps outlined in the video:

  1. Select the www version or non-www version and 301 the other. Otherwise, you’re creating two different versions of your website and splitting your SEO (not to mention creating possible duplicate content penalties).
  2. Verify ownership of your website in Google webmaster tools and sign up for email forwarding. Note that since publishing this video, Google has changed its practice and automatically emails warnings to webmasters. This is a good thing and it’s free.
  3. Perform a background check on your domain. Make sure you’re not inheriting anyone else’s bad mojo.
  4. Include analytics tracking code – even if you’re not going to use it right away. It’s important to have historical data to look back upon.
  5. Follow these important strategies for quality site design:
    1. Utility – Does the site design meet needs of your targeted personas?
    2. Navigation – Can users figure out where they are and easily get to where they want to be?
    3. Focus – Keep pages short and concise.
  6. Define conversions! This is the number one deficiency I find on websites. Figure out what your top conversions are (e.g. newsletter signup, webinar registration, free consultation, etc…) and make sure they are on every page.
  7. Include keywords naturally in your text. Don’t try to stuff your page full of keywords.
  8. Every page should include:
    1. Unique topic (i.e. focus keyword)
    2. Unique title
    3. Unique meta description (these are not used for search ranking but do influence click-through rates)
    4. Keywords in URL
    5. Descriptive anchor text for each link (e.g. not “click here”)
  9. Pitfalls to avoid violating Google’s quality guidelines:
    1. No rogue or shady SEO consultants
    2. No link schemes or buying links
    3. Don’t focus on fanciness over index-ability
    4. Keep an eye on page load times
  10. Check that you rank for your company name
  11. Get involved, which is to say, promote your content marketing efforts.

Watch the full video here:

Image “Babies” courtesy of iluvcocacola on Flickr.