55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love
1. If you absolutely MUST use Java script drop down menus, image maps or image links, be sure to put text links somewhere on the page for the spiders to follow.
2. Content is king, so be sure to have good, well-written and unique content that will focus on your primary keyword or keyword phrase.
3. If content is king, then links are queen. Build a network of quality backlinks using your keyword phrase as the link. Remember, if there is no good, logical reason for that site to link to you, you don’t want the link.
4. Don’t be obsessed with PageRank. It is just one isty bitsy part of the ranking algorithm. A site with lower PR can actually outrank one with a higher PR.
5. Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site. And, if you MUST have the name of your company in it, put it at the end. Unless you are a major brand name that is a household name, your business name will probably get few searches.
6. Fresh content can help improve your rankings. Add new, useful content to your pages on a regular basis. Content freshness adds relevancy to your site in the eyes of the search engines.
7. Be sure links to your site and within your site use your keyword phrase. In other words, if your target is “blue widgets” then link to “blue widgets” instead of a “Click here” link.
8. Focus on search phrases, not single keywords, and put your location in your text (“our Palm Springs store” not “our store”) to help you get found in local searches.
9. Don’t design your web site without considering SEO. Make sure your web designer understands your expectations for organic SEO. Doing a retrofit on your shiny new Flash-based site after it is built won’t cut it. Spiders can crawl text, not Flash or images.
10. Use keywords and keyword phrases appropriately in text links, image ALT attributes and even your domain name.
11. Check for canonicalization issues – www and non-www domains. Decide which you want to use and 301 redirect the other to it. In other words, if http://www.domain.com is your preference, then http://domain.com should redirect to it.
12. Check the link to your home page throughout your site. Is index.html appended to your domain name? If so, you’re splitting your links. Outside links go to http://www.domain.com and internal links go to http://www.domain.com/index.html.
Ditch the index.html or default.php or whatever the page is and always link back to your domain.
13. Frames, Flash and AJAX all share a common problem – you can’t link to a single page. It’s either all or nothing. Don’t use Frames at all and use Flash and AJAX sparingly for best SEO results.
14. Your URL file extension doesn’t matter. You can use .html, .htm, .asp, .php, etc. and it won’t make a difference as far as your SEO is concerned.
15. Got a new web site you want spidered? Submitting through Google’s regular submission form can take weeks. The quickest way to get your site spidered is by getting a link to it through another quality site.
16. If your site content doesn’t change often, your site needs a blog because search spiders like fresh text. Blog at least three time a week with good, fresh content to feed those little crawlers.
17. When link building, think quality, not quantity. One single, good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which can actually hurt you.
18. Search engines want natural language content. Don’t try to stuff your text with keywords. It won’t work. Search engines look at how many times a term is in your content and if it is abnormally high, will count this against you rather than for you.
19. Not only should your links use keyword anchor text, but the text around the links should also be related to your keywords. In other words, surround the link with descriptive text.
20. If you are on a shared server, do a blacklist check to be sure you’re not on a proxy with a spammer or banned site. Their negative notoriety could affect your own rankings.
21. Be aware that by using services that block domain ownership information when you register a domain, Google might see you as a potential spammer.
22. When optimizing your blog posts, optimize your post title tag independently from your blog title.
23. The bottom line in SEO is Text, Links, Popularity and Reputation.
24. Make sure your site is easy to use. This can influence your link building ability and popularity and, thus, your ranking.
25. Give link love, Get link love. Don’t be stingy with linking out. That will encourage others to link to you.
26. Search engines like unique content that is also quality content. There can be a difference between unique content and quality content. Make sure your content is both.
27. If you absolutely MUST have your main page as a splash page that is all Flash or one big image, place text and navigation links below the fold.
28. Some of your most valuable links might not appear in web sites at all but be in the form of e-mail communications such as newletters and zines.
29. You get NOTHING from paid links except a few clicks unless the links are embedded in body text and NOT obvious sponsored links.
30. Links from .edu domains are given nice weight by the search engines. Run a search for possible non-profit .edu sites that are looking for sponsors.
31. Give them something to talk about. Linkbaiting is simply good content.
32. Give each page a focus on a single keyword phrase. Don’t try to optimize the page for several keywords at once.
33. SEO is useless if you have a weak or non-existent call to action. Make sure your call to action is clear and present.
34. SEO is not a one-shot process. The search landscape changes daily, so expect to work on your optimization daily.
35. Cater to influential bloggers and authority sites who might link to you, your images, videos, podcasts, etc. or ask to reprint your content.
36. Get the owner or CEO blogging. It’s priceless! CEO influence on a blog is incredible as this is the VOICE of the company. Response from the owner to reader comments will cause your credibility to skyrocket!
37. Optimize the text in your RSS feed just like you should with your posts and web pages. Use descriptive, keyword rich text in your title and description.
38. Use captions with your images. As with newspaper photos, place keyword rich captions with your images.
39. Pay attention to the context surrounding your images. Images can rank based on text that surrounds them on the page. Pay attention to keyword text, headings, etc.
40. You’re better off letting your site pages be found naturally by the crawler. Good global navigation and linking will serve you much better than relying only on an XML Sitemap.
41. There are two ways to NOT see Google’s Personalized Search results:
(1) Log out of Google
(2) Append &pws=0 to the end of your search URL in the search bar
42. Links (especially deep links) from a high PageRank site are golden. High PR indicates high trust, so the back links will carry more weight.
43. Use absolute links. Not only will it make your on-site link navigation less prone to problems (like links to and from https pages), but if someone scrapes your content, you’ll get backlink juice out of it.
44. See if your hosting company offers “Sticky” forwarding when moving to a new domain. This allows temporary forwarding to the new domain from the old, retaining the new URL in the address bar so that users can gradually get used to the new URL.
45. Understand social marketing. It IS part of SEO. The more you understand about sites like Digg, Yelp, del.icio.us, Facebook, etc., the better you will be able to compete in search.
46. To get the best chance for your videos to be found by the crawlers, create a video sitemap and list it in your Google Webmaster Central account.
47. Videos that show up in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube. Be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites like Metacafe, AOL, MSN and Yahoo to name a few.
48. Surround video content on your pages with keyword rich text. The search engines look at surrounding content to define the usefulness of the video for the query.
49. Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo ALT descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words.
50. Enable “Enhanced image search” in your Google Webmaster Central account. Images are a big part of the new blended search results, so allowing Google to find your photos will help your SEO efforts.
51. Add viral components to your web site or blog – reviews, sharing functions, ratings, visitor comments, etc.
52. Broaden your range of services to include video, podcasts, news, social content and so forth. SEO is not about 10 blue links anymore.
53. When considering a link purchase or exchange, check the cache date of the page where your link will be located in Google. Search for “cache:URL” where you substitute “URL” for the actual page. The newer the cache date the better. If the page isn’t there or the cache date is more than an month old, the page isn’t worth much.
54. If you have pages on your site that are very similar (you are concerned about duplicate content issues) and you want to be sure the correct one is included in the search engines, place the URL of your preferred page in your sitemaps.
55. Check your server headers. Search for “check server header” to find free online tools for this. You want to be sure your URLs report a “200 OK” status or “301 Moved Permanently ” for redirects. If the status shows anything else, check to be sure your URLs are set up properly and used consistently throughout your site.
Businesses are growing more aware of the need to understand and implement at least the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). But if you read a variety of blogs and websites, you’ll quickly see that there’s a lot of uncertainty over what makes up “the basics.” Without access to high-level consulting and without a lot of experience knowing what SEO resources can be trusted, there’s also a lot of misinformation about SEO strategies and tactics.
1. Commit yourself to the process. SEO isn’t a one-time event. Search engine algorithms change regularly, so the tactics that worked last year may not work this year. SEO requires a long-term outlook and commitment.
2. Be patient. SEO isn’t about instant gratification. Results often take months to see, and this is especially true the smaller you are, and the newer you are to doing business online.
3. Ask a lot of questions when hiring an SEO company. It’s your job to know what kind of tactics the company uses. Ask for specifics. Ask if there are any risks involved. Then get online yourself and do your own research—about the company, about the tactics they discussed, and so forth.
4. Become a student of SEO. If you’re taking the do-it-yourself route, you’ll have to become a student of SEO and learn as much as you can. Luckily for you, there are plenty of great web resources (like Search Engine Land) and several terrific books you can read. (Yes, actual printed books!) See our What Is SEO page for a variety of articles, books and resources.
5. Have web analytics in place at the start. You should have clearly defined goals for your SEO efforts, and you’ll need web analytics software in place so you can track what’s working and what’s not.
6. Build a great web site. I’m sure you want to show up on the first page of results. Ask yourself, “Is my site really one of the 10 best sites in the world on this topic?” Be honest. If it’s not, make it better.
7. Include a site map page. Spiders can’t index pages that can’t be crawled. A site map will help spiders find all the important pages on your site, and help the spider understand your site’s hierarchy. This is especially helpful if your site has a hard-to-crawl navigation menu. If your site is large, make several site map pages. Keep each one to less than 100 links. I tell clients 75 is the max to be safe.
8. Make SEO-friendly URLs. Use keywords in your URLs and file names, such as yourdomain.com/red-widgets.html. Don’t overdo it, though. A file with 3+ hyphens tends to look spammy and users may be hesitant to click on it. Related bonus tip: Use hyphens in URLs and file names, not underscores. Hyphens are treated as a “space,” while underscores are not.
9. Do keyword research at the start of the project. If you’re on a tight budget, use the free versions of Keyword Discovery or WordTracker, both of which also have more powerful paid versions. Ignore the numbers these tools show; what’s important is the relative volume of one keyword to another. Another good free tool is Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, which doesn’t show exact numbers.
10. Open up a PPC account. Whether it’s Google’s AdWords, Microsoft adCenter or something else, this is a great way to get actual search volume for your keywords. Yes, it costs money, but if you have the budget it’s worth the investment. It’s also the solution if you didn’t like the “Be patient” suggestion above and are looking for instant visibility.
11. Use a unique and relevant title and meta description on every page. The page title is the single most important on-page SEO factor. It’s rare to rank highly for a primary term (2-3 words) without that term being part of the page title. The meta description tag won’t help you rank, but it will often appear as the text snippet below your listing, so it should include the relevant keyword(s) and be written so as to encourage searchers to click on your listing. Related bonus tip: You can ignore the Keywords meta tag, as no major search engine today supports it.
12. Write for users first. Google, Yahoo, etc., have pretty powerful bots crawling the web, but to my knowledge these bots have never bought anything online, signed up for a newsletter, or picked up the phone to call about your services. Humans do those things, so write your page copy with humans in mind. Yes, you need keywords in the text, but don’t stuff each page like a Thanksgiving turkey. Keep it readable.
13. Create great, unique content. This is important for everyone, but it’s a particular challenge for online retailers. If you’re selling the same widget that 50 other retailers are selling, and everyone is using the boilerplate descriptions from the manufacturer, this is a great opportunity. Write your own product descriptions, using the keyword research you did earlier (see #9 above) to target actual words searchers use, and make product pages that blow the competition away. Plus, retailer or not, great content is a great way to get inbound links.
14. Use your keywords as anchor text when linking internally. Anchor text helps tells spiders what the linked-to page is about. Links that say “click here” do nothing for your search engine visibility.
15. Build links intelligently. Begin with foundational links like trusted directories. (Yahoo and DMOZ are often cited as examples, but don’t waste time worrying about DMOZ submission. Submit it and forget it.) Seek links from authority sites in your industry. If local search matters to you (more on that coming up), seek links from trusted sites in your geographic area — the Chamber of Commerce, local business directories, etc. Analyze the inbound links to your competitors to find links you can acquire, too. Create great content on a consistent basis and use social media to build awareness and links. (A blog is great for this; see below.)
16. Use press releases wisely. Developing a relationship with media covering your industry or your local region can be a great source of exposure, including getting links from trusted media web sites. Distributing releases online can be an effective link building tactic, and opens the door for exposure in news search sites. Related bonus tip: Only issue a release when you have something newsworthy to report. Don’t waste journalists’ time.
17. Start a blog and participate with other related blogs. Search engines, Google especially, love blogs for the fresh content and highly-structured data. Beyond that, there’s no better way to join the conversations that are already taking place about your industry and/or company. Reading and commenting on other blogs can also increase your exposure and help you acquire new links. Related bonus tip: Put your blog at yourdomain.com/blog so your main domain gets the benefit of any links to your blog posts. If that’s not possible, use blog.yourdomain.com.
18. Use social media marketing wisely. If your business has a visual element, join the appropriate communities on Flickr and post high-quality photos there. If you’re a service-oriented business, use Quora and/or Yahoo Answers to position yourself as an expert in your industry. Any business should also be looking to make use of Twitter and Facebook, as social information and signals from these are being used as part of search engine rankings for Google and Bing. With any social media site you use, the first rule is don’t spam! Be an active, contributing member of the site. The idea is to interact with potential customers, not annoy them.
19. Take advantage of local search opportunities. Online research for offline buying is a growing trend. Optimize your site to catch local traffic by showing your address and local phone number prominently. Write a detailed Directions/Location page using neighborhoods and landmarks in the page text. Submit your site to the free local listings services that the major search engines offer. Make sure your site is listed in local/social directories such as CitySearch, Yelp, Local.com, etc., and encourage customers to leave reviews of your business on these sites, too.
20. Take advantage of the tools the search engines give you. Sign up for Google Webmaster Central, Bing Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer to learn more about how the search engines see your site, including how many inbound links they’re aware of.
21. Diversify your traffic sources. Google may bring you 70% of your traffic today, but what if the next big algorithm update hits you hard? What if your Google visibility goes away tomorrow? Newsletters and other subscriber-based content can help you hold on to traffic/customers no matter what the search engines do. In fact, many of the DOs on this list—creating great content, starting a blog, using social media and local search, etc.—will help you grow an audience of loyal prospects and customers that may help you survive the whims of search engines.
10 Basic SEO Tips To Get You Started
Every business with a Web site should make Search Engine Optimization -- trying to get your site as high up as possible on Google and Bing search-results pages -- a part of their growth strategy.
At its most basic, "SEO" means finding ways to increase your site's appearance in web visitors' search results. This generally means more traffic to your site.
While intense SEO can involve complex site restructuring with a firm (or consultant) that specializes in this area, there are a few simple steps you can take yourself to increase your search engine ranking.
All it requires is a little effort, and some re-thinking of how you approach content on your site.