SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the popular practice of optimizing your website for better organic search engine rankings. This is done by assessing what the individual search engines are looking for and providing that. SEO practices have been around for many years now and are ever evolving with the criteria of the different search engines. Here, we cover a SEO checklist and some basics for optimizing your site.
Search engines provide traffic to websites across the Internet. The more exposure a site has on the search engines the more traffic it will receive. The question these days is not so much why SEO, but how. If you have a site, you likely understand the importance of SEO and would probably like to know how to achieve better rankings in the search engines.
Search engines regularly update their algorithms, aka the formula they use to determine how they rank websites. For effective, long lasting SEO results it is important to remain in the loop on the criteria search engines are using to index sites – especially Google, since over 60% of internet users use Google.
- Keyword Optimization
- Website Optimization
- Offsite Optimization/Links
- Domain names
- Other/ Miscellaneous
Keyword optimization is the most important aspect of SEO. This is process of choosing keywords that you would most like your site to index under in the search engines and optimizing your site with these keywords. It is best to choose your keywords that people will likely during searches and are relevant to your site. If you are not selecting the proper keywords, then the rest of the optimization is really a lost cause.
These steps will help ensure quality keyword optimization:
- Take some time to research your keywords. Don’t simply decide on a handful of keywords that you think sound nice. You want to make sure that you’re choosing keywords that you can compete with and people will likely type into a search engine. It is usually a good idea to choose keywords that are related to the main focus of your site and to focus on location. Take these factors into consideration when deciding on your keywords:
- The estimated amount of searches for the keyword in a 24 hour period
- The number of sites competing for the keyword
- The quality of the sites competing for the keyword
- The ability of the site to support the keyword
- Relevance between keywords
- The target audience of the site
- Here are some things to avoid when choosing your keywords:
- Keywords that are not relevant to each other
- Keywords that do not fit the theme of the site
- Industry jargon if it is not applicable to the audience
- Keywords that are too generic / overly competitive
- Make sure your content is high quality and keyword rich, but not too rich. Your content should be full of keywords, especially the content on your home page, but don’t go throwing your keywords out like crazy. You will get the best results by naturally including your keywords into quality content. Simply cramming keywords into your site is not effective and can actually hurt your search engine placement.
- Spell Check!
- Create unique page titles that include your keywords.
- Focus on a handful of quality keywords only. This will yield better results than trying to optimize your site for tons of keywords.
Here is a great tool that can help ensure you are getting the most from your keyword optimization: http://www.webseoanalytics.com/free/seo-tools/page-analyzer-keyword-density-tool.php
Keep in mind that your number one goal is to accurately depict what the site is about through the keywords (and the eventual text content). If your site is not properly described by the keywords then either the site is targeted wrong or you’ve selected the wrong keywords.
Onsite optimization regards the foundation of the site itself. This involves the code, the text content, architecture of the site, and page layout. Onsite optimization involves placing keywords throughout the code to show the search engines what your site is about.
Here are the main things to consider for onsite optimization:
- How your site was built. Generally CSS is best for optimization.
- META headers. This is the first and easiest step in onsite optimization and is comprised of 4 main things: Title, description, keywords, and robots. The Title should be made up of the first two keywords and should make sense and be descriptive of the page. The description should include both the primary and secondary keyword in a short sentence describing the page. Keywords is just a list of the keywords separated by commas with no spaces in between. Robots tags tell the search engine spiders what to do with the page.
- Add alt tags to all of your images.
- Aviod creating duplicate content.
- Make sure to redirect the non-www domain with the www domain.
- Keep loading time to a minimum.
Offsite optimization/Links deals with changes made outside the scope of the site. This mainly involves increasing the quantity and quality of your link structure. Your goal is to maximize the site’s exposure on the Web and get as many sites as possible to link back to your site. It’s a very important factor in search engine results (SERPs).
Here are some things to factor into your offsite optimization and linking:
- Avoid too many outgoing links per page.
- Include keywords in your URLs.
- Include anchor texts that link internally within your site. For best results, make sure these anchor texts include keywords.
- Make sure your homepage links directly to the most important pages of your site.
- Avoid creating too many different links that link to the same page. This can be considered duplicate content and affect your SEO negatively.
- Make sure to actively check your links and remove all broken links.
- Use text links, not images for linking within your own site.
- Increase the amount of quality sites linking to your site. The focus here is on quality over quantity.
Domain names can play an important role in your SEO and the more relevant the domain the better. If you’re using multiple domains, there are different options that can affect your SEO as well.
Keep these things in mind when handling your domain(s):
- Include relevant keywords in your domain.
- Registering multiple domains with different keywords may help improve your SEO.
- Make sure your hosting company is reliable. Guaranteed uptime is always good. Loading time can have an effect on your SEO so you want to make sure they have quick loading times. You also want to be sure that they regularly update and back up their servers.
- Create a sitemap. You can do this in either XML or HTML, or both, and also submit them to the search engines.
- Create a Google Analytics account and add the tracking code to all pages in the site.
- Set up an RSS feed for increased SEO
- Test the quality of your SEO. There are good 3rd party sites with tools for this. Here’s a great one: http://www.webseoanalytics.com/free/seo-tools/link-structure.php
Here is a list of resources that will be helpful for you to stay up-to-date on good, relevant search engine practices.