How-to 14 min read

How to determine the procedure of the search engine optimization of a website

Any website changes affect its position. Negligence leads to a ranking drop of the site in search engines. To minimize losses, stick to a clear plan.

How to Start Website Optimization

The primary optimization tasks are the project and website analysis. What should be analyzed:
The website to work with. Make a list of edits. Check the site ranking that has already been achieved. Find out which pages drive the majority of traffic, especially traffic that converts.
The specialist prepares the internal change plan, draws up a checklist of priorities and coordinates the changes with the client.

The site owner should clarify the purpose of the website: sales, information, branding. Based on this, it will be easier for SEO specialist to understand whether it is necessary to change the CMS, the protocol from http to https, and whether to make a mobile version. Be sure to clarify the budget and the possibility of finalizing the current version of the CMS by developers.
Competitors' websites at the top. Competitor analysis is a must-have for any project. It allows you to determine what to focus on when promoting the site within a particular topic.
If competitors take leading positions in the SERP, you need to find out why to repeat their success.

Site Update Procedure

Stages of the site search engine optimization:

  • identify pages that are useful to retain;
  • make a semantic core - it determines the necessity, order, and priority of the structure change;
  • if there is a need to move to another domain or https, get ready for this and move;
  • conduct site usability testing;
  • perform internal optimization, which is based on the Technical Audit;
  • upon completion of the internal changes move on to the external promotion;
  • introduce secondary and developmental tasks.

To determine where to start site optimization and what is the procedure for making changes, website analysis and technical audit are carried out. It starts with the most global, where web programming is required and proceeds to individual pages optimization. Therefore, the changes plan is divided into several blocks: priorities, secondary tasks, and developmental tasks.

Priorities are performed immediately. The secondary tasks are performed as necessary, the developmental tasks are planned for clearly defined periods.

SEO Specialist Priorities

Semantic Core and Site Structure

First of all, the SEO specialist analyzes the queries which the landing pages need to be optimized for - traffic will depend on them. If the subject of the site does not change, check the relevance of key phrases. If queries are no longer relevant, the core should be determined again and the site structure should be built in accordance with it.

In order not to lose your SEO ranking, it is desirable to keep the structure as close as possible along with the page and file addresses.

Recommendations When Working on Site Structure Changes

Check the visibility of pages. Google Analytics and Serpstat are suitable for testing. Find pages where visitors navigate from search engines.
Setup redirects from old URLs. Do this with the help of a 301 redirect.
User-friendly URLs. Using the key phrases in the URL will be a plus. The optimal length of the user-friendly URLs is up to 110 characters. This can be checked with the help of Netpeak Spider, Screaming Frog SEO Spider or any other parser.
Organize the XML sitemap. The XML map lists the pages, their hierarchy, and crawling priority. The sitemap helps search engines crawlers to index pages more efficiently. The link to this file is written in robots.txt.
Expand the semantics and structure of the site. Create and optimize pages for queries. Embrace new and related topics to reach a larger audience.

It is desirable that each page has its own keys that are not duplicated on other pages. Otherwise, pages with the same keys will compete with each other in the search engine results page. Only one of them will be shown.
In addition to determining the site structure, the semantic core helps:

  • when generating and writing meta tags;
  • when preparing content for landing pages;
  • when linking;
  • when performing external optimization and forming a user-friendly URL.

Sometimes, the process of creating the semantic core takes months. For example, if there are several hundred thousand queries for an online store.

Internal Site Optimization

For this stage, a technical SEO audit is conducted. In the course of the work, the optimizer analyzes the pages that contribute to the promotion of the website in organic search and check-list the identified errors.

Let's list several major factors that are included in the audit unit.
Site loading speed. What to do if the site loads slowly:

  • reduce image size;
  • put the scripts in separate files;
  • reduce server response time.
Semantic markup. This is a set of special tags that structure the content for search engines. It is used for:

  • "Contact us" block;
  • logo and name;
  • product cards, etc.
Metrics and statistics systems. What else can be learned from analytics systems such as Google Analytics:

  • identify the most visited pages;
  • explore page scroll map and link heat map;
  • how much time does the user spend on the site;
  • how many pages are browsed per session and how the indicator has changed;
  • actions that precede target action;
  • regions with more conversions;
  • at what stage users close the registration page, if it is multistage, etc.

  1. The Title must be unique for each page and corresponding to its content. When compiling it, a high-frequency query is placed at the beginning or as close as possible to it, but the sentence should be readable.

  2. The Description is a unique, concise, attractive description of the text on the page. When writing it, add key phrases or symbols, emoji - they are noticeable on the results page, but it is important not to abuse them.

  3. The heading <h1> is placed at the top of the page, a key phrase is entered into it and it should be readable.

Internal Linking

"Dead ends" are pages without outgoing links that are referenced by other links. If they are not removed, the natural distribution of the link weight is broken.

This is checked by PageWeight.

Before choosing any plan, it is necessary to determine which queries or pages need to be promoted in this way. You can use one of the linking plans:

  • hierarchical. The main page links to sections and sections link to content pages that link to the main page;

  • star. It is built so that all pages of the site link to each other;

  • ring. It is often used for high-frequency phrases, where all pages of the site link to the section being promoted.

Content Optimization

At this stage, texts with the key queries and LSI are prepared for pages promoted.

At the same time, informational articles are being prepared. They will be posted in the sections "Blog", "News", "Interesting". Their goal is to help potential buyers with a choice and to expand the semantic core.

Text, which is hidden from users but accessible to search engines should be removed.

Image Optimization

Images attract visitors to the site from the search by images. Make sure that this is not prohibited in robots.txt.

The correct file name is "vaza.jpg", and "1.jpg" is the wrong.

Add ALT attributes to images. The main task of alt tags is to ensure that search robots understand what is shown on the image.

In order to compose them correctly, write only what is really on the picture, without unnecessary words and spam with key phrases.

Working with robots.txt and Crawl Budget

The file regulates site scanning by search engines. It is edited immediately after the structure is edited. The name of the robots.txt file must be spelled correctly.

What you need to close for the search robot: administrative sections, filters, cache. This is written in the "Disallow" line. If the file does not exist, it should be created in any text editor - Notepad++, Sublime Text.

The crawl budget is the limit of resources to crawl the pages of the site that the bot will crawl. Its budget to crawl the site. In order for the robot to crawl only the necessary pages, sitemap.xml and robots.txt should be properly configured. Errors will lead to the fact that the search engine will leave the site, scanning only part of the content.


Basics of the site usability:

  • adaptability to mobile devices;
  • easy language switching;
  • intuitive buttons;
  • site map;
  • logical distribution of site sections;
  • order form clear button;
  • site search;
  • sections of recently viewed pages, if we are talking about an online store;
  • pass-through main menu;
  • possibility of one-click order and adding goods to favorites;
  • feedback forms;
  • product filters;
  • easy authorization via social networks or account;
  • full product specifications.

For example, placing an order in an online store will not be comfortable without a shopping cart, feedback forms.

Website usability shouldn't be postponed, otherwise, the bounce rate will be bad, and the ranking will not increase accordingly.

External Site Optimization: Stages

First of all, if necessary, delete pages without good positions or backlinks. It is important to set up 301 redirects from deleted pages to similar existing ones.

If there are links: each link is considered individually, whether there is any benefit to the resource and compliance with the topics.

If the link was published through the exchange: you may be able to edit it and put it on another URL.

If the publication of links agreed directly:
it will be more difficult to redirect them, you will have to contact each webmaster. It can be long and costly, so if you decide to change the structure or domain, be ready to sacrifice link weight.

Secondary Tasks of the SEO Specialist

Typically, the secondary stages of SEO promotion include a slight change in content, the expansion of the semantic core, filling of the information block. This is a job type that is executed after global solutions are implemented.

The difference between secondary tasks and developmental tasks is that the former ones are carried out as far as possible, for a limited time. Development implies the introduction of a non-urgent nature, which will be implemented within the planned time frame or upon achieving the project objectives.

Example of tasks for the site development:

  • introduction of new sections that are not relevant now, but the situation will change;

  • launch of new products and services on the site;

  • improving usability factors.

Classification of tasks is always based on the project objectives and is built individually. It is important not to neglect the order of making changes, but to plan everything as a check-list. This will allow you to work more productively:

  • track the status of the implementation of the tasks for introducing changes on the site;

  • keep notes on tasks. They will help you explain the situation to the employee and the owner;

  • do not lose sight of the tasks on the site, meet deadlines.


Hurry or improper work order may reduce the effectiveness of SEO. Where to start to prevent it:

  • analysis of the project and its competitors, risks;
  • creating a plan and classifying tasks by priority;
  • change of CMS, protocol, creating a mobile version, etc.;
  • semantic core building, structure refinement;
  • internal optimization;
  • usability;
  • external optimization;
  • secondary and developmental tasks introduction.

The order of SEO-optimization and the stages of making changes are determined individually for each site, referring to the checklist.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat" title = "How to determine the procedure of the search engine optimization of a website 16261788337840" />
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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