SEO Best Practices Checklist

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1 On-Page SEO SEO Best Practices Checklist These are those factors that we can do ourselves without having to rely on any external factors (e.g. inbound links, link popularity, domain authority, etc.). Content is King Nowadays, anyone can set up a website in a matter of minutes and fill it with other people s content by using aggregators, bots and all that bad stuff. First, provide page content that is written with your target audience in mind. Second, your page content must be useful, informative, and helpful, updated regularly and whenever possible, include timeless or pillar articles. This is what matters, quality, and uniqueness (your own voice). In addition, pick a posting frequency that suits you best and stick to it. You do not have to write an article everyday (unless you are a news site or something similar), and moreover, you should give time for people to digest the hundreds of blogs they visit every day, before they arrive at yours. Keeping it fresh is the key. Keywords You should first write for your readers and then for SEO. Ensure that the keywords you are targeting for are: Included in your title (preferably first two words), and tagged <h1> Included in other title tags (<h2> <h6>) Are included within the first words of your articles Are linked (anchor text) to other pages within your site that are relevant to that post Included in your images using the <alt= > tag Other SEO factors, such as keyword density, keyword in comment tags, Meta keywords (not description) bolded, italic, bulleted, while recommended, are of less importance. Always do the proper research for keywords, as the choices you make will greatly impact your search engine rankings. The more competitive the keyword is, the harder it will be to rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Title The Page title is the single most important part of your on-page SEO and should not be neglected. Use attention grabbing headlines and make it as unique as possible. Use a combination of your keyword and the common phrase your keyword would naturally be search for within your title tag. Links Linking to other sources is not only a great way to show your appreciation to others but is also a form of sharing what others have to say about your topic. Ensure that your outbound links are pointing only to trusted sources.

2 Off-Page SEO Backlinks Bing is great for ranking with an exact-match domain name, awesome content and a good title tag, while Google, in addition to that of Bing, relies heavily on backlinks (links pointing to your site). If you want to rank well in Google for competitive niches, you ll need backlinks period. This is one of the most overlooked parts of anyone s SEO strategy. Your external links (inbound) will have more importance if they are coming with or from: High authority domain sites (trusted or popular, high PR, etc.) Several root domains (preferably relevant to your niche): somedomain.com/youranchor and somedomian.com/youranchor/seo is considered only one root domain. Diversity counts. Keyword focused anchor text. The best way to grab one of these is via guest posting. Social Media Recently, Matt Cutts of Google publicly hinted that Google is now using social data as part of its ranking factors. Social media should be a key part of your overall SEO strategy. Building relationships, interacting and engaging with connections, fans and followers helps you build your brand exposure. Done properly, your business will be building a trusted community and within that process will gain credibility. If you are a heavy social media user, consider using branded URls. Video Having videos that are optimized for search will give you the edge compared to those who don t. Make sure you put your keywords in your title (the closer to beginning the better, but don t make it sound weird.). What we recommend is to have the keywords and then a dash and a call to action phrase. Domain Names When setting up a new website or thinking of changing your domain name, consider using a keyword rich domain name and, even better if you can get an exact match domain. Exact match domain is the tip of the iceberg and can give your small business a boost on your rankings. SEO Practices (Negative) Things to avoid using malicious codes with the intent to do harm, linking to SPAM or banned web sites, cloaking links, buying links from link farms, incredible long page load times, frequent server downtime (get another host), keyword stuffing (keyword use in excess), are the most important things you should not do. These are all considered types of black hat SEO techniques ; the practice of using unethical techniques to make your website search rankings higher. When you are struggling for traffic it can be tempting to take a short-cut and use some of the more unscrupulous SEO strategies available. However, even if you get some positive short-term results you will be at a high risk of being penalized or banned from the search engines index.

3 The Devil is in the Details Find the Best Keywords Even if you do get top placement for a broad keyword that isn't what most users are looking for, Google will calculate the number of times users did not select your listing, and the number of times they returned to the search results to choose a different website. Trying to beat this calculation is futile and just a huge waste of time and energy. Therefore you should invest some resources into finding the best keywords; those that turn searches into purchases or leads. Buying Sponsored Ads and paying for high end design and usability is best place to start. However, there are several SEO tools and SEO software available on the Internet to help you find the best keywords; most of which are offered by the search engines themselves and are completely free. When using any SEO tool for doing keyword research, start by keeping your searches ambiguous, creating categories, and drilling down to create small clusters (or silos) of keywords. The results will always return new suggestions and ideas, sometimes surprising ones that you may not have thought of. In the Sponsored Ads, these clusters become your ad groups. With your SEO, they become the directories (or taxonomy) of the content you'll want to have on your website. Behavioral-targeting and using Long Tail Keywords (a type of keyword phrase that has at least three and some times as many as five words in the phrase) are an excellent way to get higher ranking quickly for keywords that generate sales, and will have longevity to them in the search results. Discover What Your Competitors are Doing Search engines analyze incoming links to your website as part of their ranking criteria. Knowing how many incoming links your competitors have, will give you a fantastic edge. Of course, you still have to discover your competitors before you can analyze them. Competitor rank in the search engines Quantity AND quality of incoming links (prioritized) What keywords are in the title of linking page? % of links containing specific keywords in the link text The Google PageRank or MozRank of linking pages The popularity of the linking domain and the linking page (measured by links & mentions) Click the link to their Site Map page and see what keyword you find in the links Get a savvy web person to find and parse their XML Site Map to find keywords in page names View the HTML title and meta tags of your top competitors to compile a list of needed content Write Very Linkable & Sharable Content Generic content can't be slapped together and thrown online with the hope that it will get high ranking for the life of that page of content. The content must have the following attributes if it has any hope of earning and sustaining higher ranking in the search engine results (many of these came directly from Google):

4 The content is useful The content is original You can't help but link to it There are supportive facts and references There's enough detail that nobody can memorize it Something fun or interesting is included (like video) It's not just blah, blah, blah, content There's enough call to action to invoke engagement There are visual examples, charts, and references You had multiple contributors who all link to the content You thank or compliment someone who shares it with others You have an offer, discount, or promotion included How To's and tutorials are a great way to get people to link Create a controversy Answer questions Conduct research & discuss the results Get involved with social media Create lists (Top 50 Link Building Techniques, etc.) Start and maintain a blog and establish yourself as an authority Run a service or create a product (i.e.: Firefox extension) Optimize Your Title and Meta Tags HTML titles and Meta tags should be different on every page of your website if you wish for most search engines to store and list them in the search results. Google has announced that they do not use the Meta keywords tag in their ranking criteria. Because Google has 64 percent market share in search, that should be enough to convince you to not spend a lot of time on this attribute. Optimizing Your Home Page Title There are different theories about how long your home page title should be. Google only displays the first 66 or so characters. However, some experts argue that the value of the home page title may warrant additional search term inclusion. The rule of thumb here is to get your most important keywords into your home page title and Meta description. Optimizing Sub Page Titles and Meta Tags When you perform a search in a search engine, what shows up in your web browser is called an impression. When you make a selection, that selection is called a click. Google and other search engines record each impression and each click to help them understand which listings are being clicked on the most. If the majority of normal search volume selects your listing, you'll have a higher CTR and higher ranking; same applies for Sponsored Ads. If a healthy percentage of searchers return to Google's search results (called a Bounce) and select a different listing, your CTR value will be reduced and ultimately so will your ranking.

5 To get and stay at the top of the search results, you need to be the most attractive listing in the search result, and you need to provide enough content to prevent the searcher from leaving your website to find a different listing. This one SEO tip could make or break your SEO campaign. Click-Through Rate (CTR) plays an instrumental role in how relevant Google thinks your website is. By compelling users to click with clear call-to-actions (buy, order, download, beat, fix, etc.) and by using value propositions (guaranteed, on sale now, etc.), one can improve their CTR and search engine ranking. Optimizing File Nomenclatures Save your images, media, and web pages with the keywords in the file names. For example, if your keyword phrase is "golf putters" you'll want to save the images used on that page as golf-putters-01.jpg or golf_putters_01.jpg (either will work). In addition, all images must be assigned alternative text descriptions called Alt Tags so they will become visible to search engines. Without Alt Tags your images are invisible. By doing so, you may receive visits from Google Images and other media search queries. More important is your web page's file name, since many search engines now allow users to query using "in url" searches. Anytime there is an opportunity to display or present content, do your best to insure the content has the keywords in the filename (as well as a Title or ALT attribute). Tell the Search Engines What to Index Google and other search engines have already helped reduce the amount of duplicate content indexed. Therefore, optimize your robots.txt File. This one command will tell any spider that hits your website to "please feel free to crawl every page of my website". Redirecting Duplicate Content For consistency, it's better to have one version of each page to get all the inbound links and earn all of the points with the search engines. This means telling Google and Bing (in their respective Webmaster Tools) to only index the www. version of your website. Next, add a new tag to every page of your website to prevent other versions of the page from appearing in the search results. Just think about all the different ways we display content. There are often "Print View", "Flash Version", and pages with reviews, ratings and comments, that append page URLs with strings such as &rating=5, &view=print, etc. Feed Search Engines Static and XML Site Maps Optimizing Your Static Site Map PageRank is relative and shared throughout a website by a unique voting system created by Google. Since every page on the website will be linked to the site map, it allows web crawlers (and users) to quickly and easily find content. This SEO tip is critical. Use Checklists and Validators There are several ways to validate the accuracy of your website's source code. The four most important, in my opinion, are validating your search engine optimization, HTML, CSS and insuring that you have no

6 broken links or images. Start by analyzing broken links. Then analyze HTML and CSS. The final step is to validate your search engine optimization. You can use WebsiteGrader.com and other online tools. Fancy Flash Websites May Look Pretty Large images and fancy flash websites may look pretty but they can be a big turn-off for search engine spiders, and humans with anything but the fastest internet connection. Everyone likes their website to be attractive but the price you pay in slow load times can make SEO and long-term growth impossible. Clean, simple, attractive websites fair best when it comes to search engines and casual visitors. No Overseas SEO Don t hire an SEO company or person if their first language is not the language you are optimizing for. When it comes to keyword research, content writing and tweaking, it is important that the person or business that you hire speaks the native language that you are optimizing, marketing and analyzing for as a first language.

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