Webmaster Checklist

Webmaster and SEO tips and tricks to create and optimize your website.

For a popular website, someone has to take care of the following.

Contact us if you need an Italian Web Master

Webmaster Checklist, point # 1 Identify client's goals


A Webmaster needs to identify client's goals

As in any other business relationship, also in the relation between Webmaster and his client it's critical to start by real understanding of mutual expectations and by defining goals to be achieved.

Webmaster needs to start by interviewing the client and understand his expectations and setting up goals to be achieved thanks to his job.

Should client be unrealistic in his expectations, it will be necessary to explain why.

Client will probably appreciate a clear and simple explanation about the technical issues which are involved in his request.

Goals should be specific and measurable, so that it will be possible for the client to observe the progress and results.

Client might focus only on outcomes, but the truth is: only behavioral goals can be guaranteed. In other terms, our business project can include site creation, content writing, designing, setting up web marketing campaigns, SEO and site updates and possibly we can agree about the final result we want to achieve: sales increase.

But on the other hand, a Webmaster can't make a commitment on actions or  events which not only depend on his job, such as site positioning in the SERP or sales increase, all circumstances which are influenced by external factors.

The point is: there's no Webmaster that can control Search Engines!

What a Webmaster can do is proving he has already succeeded in producing sales increase and obtaining good websites positioning with previous clients: facts speak louder than words!

The best solution is generally to set both short term and long term goals, so that  trust and rewards can increase along the way!


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Webmaster Checklist, point # 2 Study client's business

A Webmaster needs to study client's business

How can a Webmaster can effectively work to promote a business he doesn't know?

A deep knowledge of the Company and  business is required in order to communicate with much enthusiasm to web users why they should check out our client's products or services.

Every single element of the site (content, design, description and advertising campaigns) will be generated starting by a unitary Company image the Webmaster has in his mind.

This is the reason why he needs to have a good picture in his mind before he starts the job.

Besides that, a deep knowledge of any subject is required in order to write valuable content, texts and articles.


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Webmaster Checklist, point # 3 Marketing Analysis


Marketing analysis: prerequisite for creating client's site

Conducting a marketing analysis is a necessary step to make even before projecting client's site. In fact, a Webmaster needs to gain knowledge about the web market where his client will operate, about the potential customers' needs and habits and about competitors' offer. The first step is identifying the target and finding out the trends for that target. The second step is identifying the main competitors and analyze their sites and their marketing strategy. The client's site will be expressly designed for the for the identified target and will include new items or features still not offered by the competitors. A SWOT (strenghts, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis can also be very useful to synchronize the website with the corporate marketing strategy. A website can contribute significantly to the growth of the corporate image and to achieving specific sales targets.


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Webmaster Checklist, point #4 Choose domain name


Domain name: how to choose a good one

Choosing a domain name (website address) is sort of choosing a shop signboard: it's the first thing users will notice! This is the kind of choice that clients might like to make by themselves. As a Webmaster, you can help them to make a good decision, by inviting them to consider all the following before choosing their domain name.

Domain name choice checklist:

- first of all, consider if you want to include one or more keywords in the domain name (the main keywords you're gonna use for your site); for example, if you're a Florist in Rome you could think about: “www.flowersroma.com”; this kind of domain name immediately calls to mind the content of the site (as well as a signboard should recall the contents of the store) and may help search engine optimization too;

- also consider the option to use your brand as a domain name, especially if you haven't got any website with your brand yet; in this case, you may wish to secure one (ex. www.yourbrand.com); if this is your choice, then the title will need to be as much descriptive as possible in order to supply to the lack of info into the domain name; you'll also be able to add a suffix (example: yourbrand.com - “Florist Rome | wedding decorations”);

- in some cases, it can be a nice idea to mix up name and keywords (ex. lisaflowers.com”);

- anyhow, domain name shouldn't be too long or complicated; it should sound good instead, and be quite easy to remember;

- be forward-looking and choose a domain name which will work even if your site's content slightly changes over time (for example, if you presently sell flowers but plan to start selling plants too, you may consider to choose "flowerandplants.com” instead of “flowers.com”);

- don't forget that, for the Registrant, the policy is “first come, first served” so it's up to the domain owner to avoid trademark law infringement (as a consequence, it's up to you to check if anyone is violating your trademark and also, of course, to make sure your domain name isn't violating trademark law; in Italy we have specific limits to observe: you can read our blog's article about domain name and trademark at this regard; in case of doubt, you may wish to consult an attorney who deals with intellectual property law).


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Webmaster Checklist, point #5 Register domain name


Domain name registration: through an ICANN accredited Registrar

The reservation of domain names is managed by the domain name Registrars accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Through Registrars you can check the availability of a domain name and register it.

Many domain name Registrars are hosting Providers as well, so that it's possible to pick a domain name and host the site all in one place.


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Webmaster Checklist, point #6 Choose website hosting


Website hosting: through a hosting Provider

Hosting Providers rent out spaces on their servers. They host websites and make them accessible on the internet, against the payment of a fee. The fee is not always annual: some Providers might also require you to pay in advance for more than one year.  Some Providers offer free web hosting; this solution is not recommended for a Business website, for many reasons, including: weak corporate image, less control over the site.

In order to choose the best Provider for your needs, it's a good idea to compare all the options available and take into account not only price, but also other valuable elements, such as:

- customer support (better if available in your own language and if available via chat or phone which makes easier and quicker to fix any issues);

- additional features you might need to build your site;

- bandwidth (amount of data you can send to the internet and traffic supported by the site);

- security (safeguards set by the Provider to protect the hosted websites);

- uptime (time servers are running); the shorter downtime is, the better it is, because during downtime websites are temporary unavailable.

Last but not least, the platform should be easy to use for the person who is going to create and update the site.


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Webmaster Checklist, point #7 Organize site structure


How to organize site structure

Once the Webmaster has the site, he proceeds by creating its structure. Site structure must reflect the predetermined marketing strategy, so that the  website will be good enough to effectively help reaching the sales targets.

Based on the market analysis done before, Webmaster knows which are the most popular queries for the site content and which themes to develop. Well, it's good to create a separate page for each theme, including the related keywords both in title and page content.

The keywords shouldn't be too technical: they need to reflect the typical average user queries for that content.

Including keywords in titles helps SEO and users at the same time: in fact, both search engines and users like to find quickly what they're looking for.

Navigation should be intuitive and clear. It's important to guide users through the navigation, thanks to a menu or a navigation bar.

Rather than repeating the same text on different pages, it's recommended to use navigational anchor text, better if including keywords.

Shortly: the right perspective is the user's perspective!


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Webmaster Checklist, point #8 Page layout


Tips for a good web page layout

Definition: Page layout is the arrangement of text, images, and other elements on a page.

Why page layout is important? Because a visual impact that facilitates the reading and attracts the users is as valuable as high quality content.

Tips for a good web page layout: the ideal web page is clear, modern and with intuitive navigation; its elements are  harmonized between each other and to content.

There should be space enough between paragraphs and images. Paragraphs shouldn't be too long.

The use of universal fonts is recommended (no more than 2 font families) so that the content can be read well on all devices. Font size shouldn't be less than 11 pt.

Page layout should absolutely be customized, fit the corporate style and reflect it. A company that claims to be a leader in its sector can't make use of common templates!


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Webmaster Checklist, point #9 Design (logo, texture, graphic  elements, illustrations)


Tips for great design

1. Professional logo, made with vector graphics

2. Clear design:

- every page built like a landing page, intuitive and easy to navigate, with clear call to action,  no matter where the user lands

- focus on keywords and all elements pointing to highlight call to action; not too many elements and no competing calls to action

- call to action and contact should be visible, better if placed at the top

- pages should be intuitive and simple enough to let users find the information quickly

- colored textures and backgrounds can be okay as long as they don't create confusion or divert the attention from text

3. Graphic elements like menu and buttons should be appealing and in harmony with logo, photos, texture and with all the other elements on the web page; buttons with "call to action" should catch the eye

4. Engaging site, with Social Media widgets

5. Informative site: more information than competitors, with descriptive photos and customized illustrations

6. responsive design (not too big or heavy images) and optimized website


See the example below (Cafe website Template)



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Webmaster Checklist, point #10 Content (titles, text) and meta descriptions


When it comes to site's content, these are the must haves

1. Clear and informative description of products and services offered

2. Targeted, relevant and valuable information to buyers

3. Call to action at the top (competing calls to action are to be avoided)

4. Strong keywords in page title, that correspond with the content on the page

5. Optimization of each webpage for the target keywords (keywords must flow well with the text: quality is more important than keyword density)

6. Meta description (brief description of your page, to be shown in the organic search results, which can work as a free ad for the site).


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Webmaster Checklist, point #11 Adapt to mobile users


Adapt website to mobile users and increase traffic

Mobile is now so important that the trend is to set up the mobile version first. Using responsive design improves the user experience, which typically translates into more time spent on your site, increased traffic and higher conversion rates. Don't forget to check how your site works on mobile! Most common mistakes are: videos that don't play on mobile and URLs that redirect to wrong destination (ex. from mobile version to tablet, or desktop).


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Webmaster Checklist, point #12 Test site


Test site on different devices and browsers

Once adapted the site to mobile devices, next step is testing it on different devices, browsers, screens, resolutions and  across different operating systems. There are several tools available for mobile testing and cross browser testing. The more is the site's mobile readiness and user friendliness, the more traffic it gets!


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Webmaster Checklist, point #13 Webmaster Tools


Improve SEO and site's health by using Webmaster Tools

Using Webmaster Tools for your website on a regular basis is vital to detect and fix site's health issues, such as problems with the crawl, code or links.

Webmaster Tools let you see your website as Search Engines do, even including keyword ranking data and traffic trends based on content. As a result, Webmaster Tools help you improve SEO and site's positioning in organic search results.

To get started, access Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmaster Tools and prove site's  ownership by following the indications.

Once verified, you'll be able to enter Webmaster Tools and check your site's dashboard to detect if there are any issues to fix.

What are you enabled to do with Webmaster Tools? You can see the site as Bing and Google do and submit your URLs to index, submit sitemap, check out which URLs are indexed, find out top search queries, top pages, impressions, clicks, CTR (click-through rate % = clicks / impressions), average position, see content keywords and make keywords analysis, test website speed, find links to your site... And these are just examples: there's much more you can do with Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, in order to improve your site and maximize your SEO efforts!


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Webmaster Checklist, point #14 SEO Copywriting


SEO Copywriting

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the key to “increase the popularity” of a website in the Search Engines Results Page.

SEO copywriting essentially means structuring each webpage around a specific subject, summarized by a keyword phrase. The proper identification and placement of the selected keywords makes it easier for both for users and Search Engines to grasp the essence of the page.  And that is very important to increase traffic, which is so valuable for a site. Traffic is mostly generated by Search Engines, as they have the power to determine when and if to point users to a site.

Where to place the keywords, then? In links, titles, subtitles and text, without overdoing, of course (once in the opening paragraph, once in the closing paragraph and a few more times in the remaining text can be okay). Keyword stuffing can produce a negative impact both on readers and on Search Engines. The aim of using keywords is staying on the subject that we have determined for a page (or article) and being crawled for that subject.

A skilled SEO writer uses synonyms and variations of the keywords, in addition; he writes in a clear and engaging style, without unnecessary words. On each subject, a smart SEO writer is able to add something new, beyond what others write. This is going to impact on SEO because Search Engines tend to rank higher what's new and interesting for web users!


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Webmaster Checklist, point #15 Set up a SEM Strategy


SEM Strategy

SEM is the acronym for Search Engine Marketing.

Once your site is ready, it's time to make plans about SEM and about the strategy to adopt in order to find new customers for your business and to profit from your site. If you hire a Webmaster, you can get counseling and possibly delegate to him some of the SEM activities planned.

How to set up your SEM strategy?

Traditionally, Search Engine Marketing includes two possible ways to draw qualified visitors to a site and gain customers:

1. reaching searchers by ranking in Search Engines' organic results (SEO)

2. reaching searchers by activating paid search advertising campaigns

even though, over time, the acronym SEM has started to be adopted to refer only to paid search advertising.

Search Engine Optimization and ranking in organic results is free. Still, it involves  SEO work on a regular basis. Creating relevant and high quality content can't be done in a few days and the improvements and updates have to be uploaded regularly.

On the other hand, paid search advertising involves bidding for ad placement in a search engine's sponsored links: as long as your bid covers the cost, your ad is going to be displayed any time a relevant query (search related to keywords that better describe your business offer) is typed by a user.

What you should consider in order to set up a good SEM strategy then?

Obtaining a high organic search engine ranking is a challenging and valuable goal to set up and reach over time (the very first organic search results are the most clicked by users).

Said that, you may want to allocate a certain budget to paid search advertising, in order to speed up the process: if you activate a paid search advertising campaign as soon as your new website is complete, you can immediately start having new customers while still working on SEO.

Here you can see how to advertise with Google Adwords http://www.google.com/ads/adwords2/ and with Bing Ads http://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/sign-up

In conclusion:

- if you are not in a hurry or you don't want to invest in paid advertising, your SEM strategy has to stay focused 100% on SEO

- the ideal SEM strategy combines the 2 methods above: SEO to rank in Search Engines organic results and, meanwhile, paid search advertising to immediately  boost your site.


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Webmaster Checklist, point #16 Get started with Analytics


Monitor stats and traffic with Google Analytics


Google Analytics is a free tool (as long as your site generates 10 million or fewer hits per month) that any website owner can use to analyze stats, data and traffic and improve his SEO and web advertising campaigns.


How to get started with Google Analytics:


1. the first step is creating your own account: to do so, access the Google Analytics website, click on the “Access Google Analytics” button, log into your Google email account (the same you used for Google Webmaster Tools) and follow the instructions to configure your account


2. then, connect Analytics to your website: click “Admin” on the above menu bar, then select your website in the drop down “property” in the middle of the page and select “Tracking Info” and “Tracking Code”; copy the snippet (code starting with <script> and ending with </script>) and paste it, before the head closing, into every web page of your site you want to track. If you have access to your website source code, paste the tracking snippet just before the closing tag </head>. If not, look for the option to upload HTML into your site and upload the snippet to the page header


3. finally, click “Reporting” on the above menu bar, to view the Analytics reports: this is the page where you'll need to visit regularly, in order to analyze stats and data about your site traffic and improve your SEO and online advertising efforts!


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Webmaster Checklist, point #17 SEO site improvements


Improve, optimize and update website

After completing your site, it's time to make it popular in the web with an SEO strategy.

Regular updates are the first SEO rule: fresh content should be added regularly to your site. While making a research, don't you tend to prefer a new article to an outdated one? Information provided some years ago might be presently incorrect, don't they?! And whenever users make a web research, they should always be able to find new, correct, relevant and updated information.

It can be good to update the content weekly, by adding new offers, new products and services, news about your business industry or about regulation or trends, etc.

Think about what users would want to know about your business offering.

This possibly will make you an authority to web users for your field.

A crucial point is that the content has to be unique.

In fact, you may want to avoid not only copyright violations, but also to be penalized by the Search Engines. Their perspective is making the best interest of users, so they tend to lower duplicate contents.

Another aspect that an SEO needs to work on regularly is link building.

At this regard, things to be absolutely avoided are: building doorway sites (websites containing just links, without any relevant content), mentioning sites that could have a low reputation (this could make you be considered badly as well) and you or other people mentioning your site using generic words like “click here” or “read more”; instead, be specific, so to help Search Engines determine the content of your page (for example, rather than “click here to get to know more about us”, I mention myself by saying “read more about Webmaster Agapeuno”). This tip is useful both in case of external and internal links.

The most solid way for link building is creating a website that people have interest to mention and share.

High quality design and images are vital to make a site popular, as well.

Searching for images is becoming more and more popular, simply because learning a definition or a notion is often quicker by images; it doesn't take an effort but it's intuitive.

And this is why clear infographics are more and more successful in the web.

Once created valuable content, a good way to share it is by social networking.

Actually, the value of our work also depends on how we use Social Media and on how many connections and contacts we have!

In conclusion: successful websites not only are well designed, but also regularly updated and connected to active Social Media pages.


by Giacinto Elia - Agapeuno ©

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