120 Simple SEO Tips - A Complete Checklist for your site
SEO? Where should I start? Basics...
- What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of getting good amount of organic (search) traffic from all search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing as well as the referral traffic through link building. A lot of traffic. Yeah!
- SEO is never ending: The very first thing that you need to learn is that SEO for your site will end with the end of the time. Meaning, it is a continuous journey in which you have to sail. Get ready for that awesome journey.
- Without SEO, you are not visible: It is like inviting guests to your messy house. Guests visits your house and decides not to come back again. Google is your guests to whom you invited for crawling and your house is your website.
- So much work? No! You do not have to do all these at the beginning. Focus on your content first. All these steps are your gradual steps towards generating more traffic.
- So how much time will it take? Well nobody can answer this. Poor content with well done SEO can never build up traffic. Awesome content with moderate SEO generates more traffic as the content goes viral. But you cannot skip SEO. Persistence!
- How much money is involved? To be honest, all the points mentioned below does not even need a penny. But it takes some time, efforts, dedication and constant improvements and at the end the results will be enjoyable. You will get the estimated traffic to your site that you had once desired.
- Competition search: In this world of internet, it is important to know your competitor very well. Also know what SEO techniques has your competitor put in place so he they are at the top of the search result in Google or other search engines.
- So many things at once? Not all the things mentioned below, though important, does not ask you to do it all at once. Make changes gradually as you progress. Content first!
Lets start from the top of the page, really top!
- Document type: The declaration must be the very first thing in your HTML document. In simple words it tells your browser the type of document to expect. Put it at the top most line in every HTML document you prepare.
- The xmlns attribute: It defines the XML namespace for a document to the validator. Do not worry...just include this before your head tags.
- Use a title tag: Always use the title tag and place it anywhere in your head tag. This will give a name to your page. Good for your visitors, good for search engines. In the absence of this tag, entire URL (Link) of your page will appear on the browser.
Coming down to your head tags
- What are meta tags? Meta tags are gems for your SEO. Wow! Yeah seriously! These tags form the start of your actual SEO work and one should know how to appropriately use them. If not used properly, it can revert back with a negative effect.
- Meta Character Set: Some of the characters cannot be directly typed by our keyboard due to limited combination of keys. Such characters can be typed by combining group of alpha-numeric values with the help of character set. Include this within your head tags to enjoy full functionality of all the characters.
- Meta Description syntax: This is the correct syntax for meta description which is to be included within your head tags.
- How to write meta description: Write a very attractive meta description that gives an overview of your page. In search engines the meta description just appears below the title of your page.
- How long should be meta description? Well, keep the meta description shorter than upto 150 to 160 characters (inducing spaces). That doesn'n mean you should count it every time your write a description, but these are approximates.
- Keywords/keyphrase syntax: Keywords are very important from SEO point of view and finding the right keywords is even more important. Given below is the syntax of the meta keyword. Include it between your head tags.
- Keywords search strategy: It start by identifying the right set of keywords for each page on the site. Simply go to the Google Adwords tool and type one or two words related to your article. Google will give you the list of top searched keywords in that category. Include keywords from that list which has high searches and has comparatively low competition.
Link to Adwords
- Identify keywords competition: As mentioned above, it is important to also note the competition of the keywords. If the competition is high it means that those keywords are used by many top ranked articles. For such high competition keywords, it is not as simple to come on the top of the search list unless your page/article is something extraordinary in terms of quality content.
- How many keywords to include? Again for this, there is no specific number. But ideally it is recommended to keep 10-12 keywords. Well you may find that many top quality articles only have 4-6 keywords but all their keywords are focused on one particular topic.
- Focus keywords on one topic: Your keywords should focus on one particular topic. For example if you write an article on type of Flowers, your keywords should circulate near the word flowers only and not something else.
- Include keyphrases as well: Along with keywords it is equally important to include key phrases. People usually type big sentences on Google search and expect result. If your page exactly matches the search query, then your page has a great chances on coming to the top of search results.
- Keyphrases search strategy: Similar to keywords, you are advised to use the Google Adwords tool and find the best set of key phrases for your page.
- How to decide a title tag? Use proper words to attract users to click to your page or article. Be out of the box. Use variations. And still if doesn't work, try using a different title tag name. But have patience. It takes time!
- Put a Keyword in your Title Tag: The Title Tag of your website is one of the most important SEO factors. So try using a tagline, slogan, or keyphrase just before using your brand name. For example, if you write an article about DC motors, your title tag should be something like this:
- How long should be the title? Try to keep your title tag shorter than 60 characters including spaces. Well there are no limitations to this but if you exceed this number, entire title tag will not be visible to the users.
Moving towards the body tag. Here goes the list!
- Write quality content: Needless to say, this is core thing that you should know that the originality of the article is gonna drive in a lot of traffic. Even for search engines, copy pastes stuff from many different site is recognized and that particular page of your is penalized. Once penalized, it will never appear on top searches.
- Use a Keyword in Your Page: :You should also put a keywords and keyphrase at the top (or in the heading) of each page and blog post. Put it towards the front, and avoid going over 60 characters in length.
- Place Your keywords in the image Alt attribute: : In every image tag, there is an Alt attribute. This is, in simple terms, the name of the image. It is important to give a proper name to the image or else your image will be lost in some 20 billion Google images.
- Content with proper spacing: When you are writing an article with some paragraphs, it is important that you have proper spacing between each paragraph. Giving sufficient space will only make it more neat.
- Content for people: It is rightly said by web analysts that it is important to set priorities for your content. People first, search engines second. Your article should contain information which a reader requires and not what is good for search engines.
- Usage Data: One single page should not be too big in size (memory). For example, if it takes more than 10 seconds to load a complete page, it is not a good sign (people hates waiting). It may be due to some factor on the page like high resolution images or some unnecessary scripts (like java scripts) running on that page.
- Speed: Speed of the page resembles the time taken by the search engine to download a page. This page loading time is usually in milliseconds. You can check your page speed using various online tools.
- Always have social plugins: Why to give more trouble to your users? If they want to share your content on their favorite social sites, it should be just a click away. Use social plugins on each page and you will have more of your content shared on social media sites.
- Make graphical pages: When writing articles or designing pages, use pictures, graphs, charts, analysis, videos, etc. and not just plain text. Do not make your article boring for people to read.
- Keep freebies and e-books: I like free stuff. Everyone likes free stuff. Well on that people would like to download an e-book (preferably a .pdf version) summarizing your entire article. Great way to hold back your visitors.
- Use a comment box: It is again recommended that you use a comment box below every article/page of your site. This is important for instant discussion on your topic. Such discussion are growing on web and are replacing the traditional forums for the same.
- Answer all question on comments: Well after you have set up the comment box, the next step is to reply to all the comments that your users and visitors are asking. It is also a great way to earn your users permanently.
- Avoid getting linked-spam: If you are using comment box below every article, many a times your comment box will be flooded with spam comments where some user is trying to post their site's links in your comment box. One solution to this issue is to keep a comment box setting wherein you have to accept the comment before it goes visible on your site. If it is a spam comment you should straight away reject it.
- Avoid mistakes: Try to avoid spelling and grammatical errors as an error free article would build trust within your followers and readers. Use tools such as spell check or proof read the entire article before publishing it.
- Suitable anchor text: While giving internal or external links on your pages, give a suitable anchor text (name) ot that link. People should be able to guess whats inside the link. Do not use common words like 'Click Here' or 'Link'. For example, if the link is to the 'Electronics Lab' page, your link syntax should be something like this:
Ok calm down! Let us discuss in general about your site
- Organize a proper site architecture: It is recommended to keep a flat site architecture than a more complex hierarchical architecture for the ease of search engine crawlers. Do not exceed the no. of hierarchial levels. For example, the page shown below has 2 level of hierarchy as shown below.
- Have a meaningful URL: You should have a URL (link) that is meaningful. It really helps search engines. Plus someone should easily be able to guess the article from the URL itself.
- Avoid Lengthy URLs: Avoid writing long keyphrases and keywords in URL (link of your page).
- Have stability: Don't keep changing site content or page URL often. Once you change your site URLs it will again take some time for search engines to index those new pages and even more time to start getting traffic again. So stay stable and pre-decide your site structure.
- Try increasing your user on-site time: Believe it or not, Google knows it all. The more the user stay on your page, the more relevant content your page is providing and so the more your page appears on top search queries on Google.
- Keep updating your content: Keep adding fresh content on your site regularly. Also make a note of updating information on your older articles if it has changed and thus making it live again for the readers.
- Any content within 4 clicks: Your website architecture (articles or pages) should be such that any article or page should be accessible from the homepage within 4 clicks at the max. Users will not like to click 10 times to reach to your article.
- Stay on topic: While writing a page content or an article, dumping a lot of text on various topics should be avoided. Stay focused on the topic. A small but focused article is better than a long but diverse article.
- Store things in their directories: Store things in correct directories on the server. If you have to store images, make a new folder called 'Images' and then upload all the images of that section. Similarly when you are uploading .css files it is a good practice to keep all your .css files in one folder for easy access and easy linking.
- Avoid using long tail headings: Page headings or article title (not page title) should not be more than 5-7 words long. It should be a collection of words but not a sentence.
Getting out of your page, finally! Offpage SEO!
- Off page: On page SEO, if done as stated above is only half battle won. Remaining half of your work is to promote, publicize and market your content out of your page on other sites.
- Link building: Link building or back links is nothing but getting other sites linking to your site. If other site puts a link of your site on some of their page, you earned a back link. More quality back links means more trust according to Google. This is done my a trademarked algorithm of Google called Pagerank.
- Use Social Media : Social media is where people stay, these days. Getting to the people is the easiest using social media. Also it is characterized by quick results and instant feedback making is better for both site owners and visitors.
- Start Using Google+: With an advent of Google+, it has definitely added one more point to every site owner's SEO checklist. G+ has a good integration with their search and using G+ will definitely boost your authenticity on their search engine.
Link to Google+
- Create link-able content: Create content that people can link your page with theirs. Have something unique that no other site is providing...it can be some kind of data analysis or some video demo graphs or even some handwritten notes which is useful.
- Network: This old day tool is still the golden rule to promote your site and your content. In fact, now a days we see tons of links on Facebook and other social sites, and we tend to forget or avoid clicking the link. But meeting someone personally or addressing a group about your work certainly boost your work.
- Use Guest Blogging: Well this is a topic on which one can debate for days. Not really! But yes, guest blogging is important both to get back links and to get visitors to your site through the other site when you guest post on their site.
- Use Google Webmaster tools: Webmaster tools is more than awesome tool for all the site owners. Sign up for the webmaster tools and authenticate your website using simple steps given on their site and you are done. You will have access to a lot of data regarding your site. Some of then are mentioned in this article.
Link to Webmaster Tools
- Use Google Analytics: Sign up for Google Analytics and Boom! You will be exposed to so much data about the visitors on your site that you would probably find it hard to make time to go through it in detail. Very useful tool and one must use it on regular basis.
Link to Google Analytics
- Make Youtube videos: Youtube is one of the largest...no no wait...'The Largest' video sharing site. Millions of videos are viewed by tons of people everyday. Have a great video made by you wherein you talk more about the article. In the description below, give a link to your article. It spreads.
- Every page should have back link: You should target that each and every page of yours get few quality back links from other sites. This will help many of your articles or hopefully all your articles to be on the first page of Google search result.
- Sitemap for users: It is a great idea to have a sitemap for your users. Sitemap is a page where you list down links to all the articles of your site. Users can have a glance at all your work at once. It also addresses some articles to your user which otherwise would be missed by them while navigating your site.
- Submit sitemap to webmaster: One of the best way to index (entry) many pages into Google, is to submit a sitemap to your webmaster tools account. As mentioned earlier, just sign up to webmaster tools, authenticate your website using method given there and then submit a sitemap in their site. Your crawling will start!
- Create image sitemap: Along with your usual sitemap for webmasters, you are also recommended to create an image sitemap of your site. It becomes easier for search engines to include many images as possible. Images can also bring in traffic to your site through Google images.
- More internal links on homepage: Try to have a homepage that links to many internal links to your other pages or articles. This fastens the work of a web crawler. Yes it does.
- Reply to mails quickly: When your visitors are using your site, they expect you to help them with their issue or query. When you get a mail from your reders, make a note to reply to that mail as early as possible.
- Give a short newspaper article: To publicize your content, local newspaper articles is a great way to achieve that. It addresses to a large crowd at once and always helps build followers.
- Before publicity, do a check: Before you publicize on social media sites or newspaper articles or any other place, do have a habit to check it twice for any kind of errors. If any, do correct it immediately.
- Publish your work outsideOn other websites, where you can create an article or a short course, do make it. Explain in a similar way that you would do on your site. Let it be a great alternative to generating back links and visitors.
- Proper about us page: Make a proper 'About Us' page. Give out more information about your company (if any), about your website/blog, about your team and what you intend to do with this domain in future. More information gives more trust to the people.
- Link profiles from About Us: In 'About Us' page where you have mentioned your team members or your co-founder, do link the name to their respective Linkedin profiles. It brings out a professionalism in you.
- Use personalized 404 page: Make a personalized and good looking 404 error page by including a file 404.shtml in your home directory and writing message in it. Nobody like to see that traditional error message because of your fault.
- Use 301 redirects: If you have recently shifted your articles to a new place, and you delete the old pages, and if visitors happen to click on those pages, they will see a '404 page not found' error. Instead you could use a 301 redirect code to shift your visitors from the old page to the corresponding new page. Just have this code in your .htaccess file from your home directory.
- Create a mobile site: One of the main issues with most of the sites is that they are not responsive. On mobile they are not so user friendly. It is also important to have a mobile site once you pick up good traffic on your site.
- Regularly backup content: World of technology is very dynamic. If there are any major issue with your hosting company or server in which your site is hosted, it may be a major loss of your site. Regularly backup content so in case of loss of data, you can always recover back the old data from your backup dumps.
- Keep updating your social media pages Regularly updating your social media pages is very essential as you are in constant interaction with your followers on social media sites.
- Pinterest: Printerest is one of the easy way to share content on which you are currently working. It is one of the fastest content growing site these days, and probably forming a share destination for all bloggers.
- Optimize Adsense ads: If you are using Google Adsense tool, optimizing advertisement on your site is must. It is not only useful for you to merge your ads within your content but it is also useful for from user experience point of view. Seeing some abrupt add with different colors within your content is not what user will like.
- Use SSL for e-commerce If you are into e-commerce business through your website, it is necessary to have a SSL certificate. It is a 128 bit encryption that gives a trust on your buyers that you are using a secure connection and their personal data is not misused.
- Easy navigation: Your site should have an easy navigation. Meaning, on the top of the page, there should be a menu bar/navigation bar that links to all the major sections of the site. Keep it simple and easy. Users should clearly be able to understand the structure of the site.
- Add business to Google Maps By submitting your business to Google maps, when someone types your site name, automatically on the search, a map will appear on the right giving more details of your business like location, year of start, your twitter handle, etc.
- Use tags: Tags and keywords both are picked up quickly by Google crawlers. Make a note to have tags (h1 to h6) to your main points. The content inside these headers itself acts as tags and keywords.
- Have your own domain: Try not to use some shared domain services or some ad-on domain service. Have your own domain. If its all yours, its also fun to take care of it completely.
- Have your domain name resolved: the domains 'www.zseries.in' and 'zseries.in' are considered as two different domains by search engines. This may create some confusion over the indexed pages. It is better to resolve this issue by having this code in your .htaccess file from your home directory. If you do not have such a file in your home directory.
- Sign up for Google Authorship: You can link content you publish on a specific domain (such as www.zseries.in) to your Google+ profile. Sign up for Google+ and create a Google+ profile.
- Update your whois records: Whois is a huge database of personal details of website owners. Keep updating if there are any changes and ensure there's a visible record of the person or company which owns the domain, address, telephone number and email address.
- Longer renewal plans: Google is assuming that if you've started your online business you're here to stay for long, therefore whether you're purchasing a new domain or renewing a domain, go for a longer renewal period of 2 plus years. It builds trust.
- robot.txt file: Create a robot.txt (a text file) and place in your home directory only if you want Google not to crawl some of the pages of your site. In that case you can add those URLs in your robot.txt file. You would do this in case if some of your pages contains some information that you don't want it to be appeared on search.
- Older the page, better it is: Older the page on your site, the better it is. Yes, a matter of fact, Google trust on your page if it has been on the site for a while.
- Ask people to recommend: A great way to build trust for your site is to ask your readers to share the pages on social media sites. 90% of the visits on long run are due to recommendation from others.
- Cross browser check: Is your site working same in all browsers? Well you can skip Internet Explorer for this. No offence! But do check if your site looks the same and has all the functionality when used with other browser. Users use all different type of browsers. Care for them!
- Take feedback from experts: Take feedback from experts...mainly from those people who are into the same market from long time as yours. Ask them about how should you improve your site and make those changes. Experience speaks!
- Fetch as Google: While using Webmaster tools, one of the important option to use is 'Fetch as Google'. Using this tool you can request Google to fetch and crawl your entire page or only a single page. This is done if your site has a new article or you have drastically changed your site.
- Check for broken links: Again using the webmaster tools (by now you must have got the importance of webmaster tools) you can check if there are any broken links. Meaning, if any page is linking to another page but that another page doesn't exist. Make sure you amend this.
- Check for floating pages: You have to make sure that all your pages/articles are at least linked from one of your page on the site. If no page links to say page 'xyz', then the page 'xyz' will never be crawled by search engines as crawls will never ever be able to make it to that page.
Now what you should not do!
- Do not overuse keywords: Well, key words usage are very important, but do not overuse the keywords. Logically, an article should focus on a very narrow topic and hence catering to only a small set of keywords. If more keywords are used or same keywords repeats many times, its a bad sign.
- Stop being worried about keywords ranks: Do not worry much about the ranks and the density of keywords. Again it is important but if the article is genuinely written by you, then half of the keywords you will already know.
- Stop keywords spamming: Well Google is smarter than what you think. If your keywords are different than what you are about to say in your content, then you are doing a keywords spamming. Please avoid it! Penalties that your site will face are bad enough.
- Stop comments back links: If you go through some other site, and you want to add some more detail to it, use their comment box. Do not use it just to acquire more back links to your site. Again spamming! The site owners may instantly block you.
- Stop Using Article Marketing: Article marketing was another cheap tactic used to drive back links. It doesn't work any longer. People have started using a better alternative to guest post than to spend time on article marketing.
- Directories over usage: Well when someone says they have included their site in 250 different directories, its rubbish! Few important web directories like Google, Yahoo and Bing are enough to bring all the required traffic...i mean all the required genuine traffic.
- PageRank over-obsessed? If you are the one who keeps on checking page ranks every day, you are a page rank over-obsessed. First thing, it does not change that ofter. Second thing, it has little relevance to your page content as it does not change often. Third thing is that it lacks all parameters to check a complete profile of the page.
- Stop Buying Links: When some agency promises that they will bring hundreds of back links if you pay them an amount, its all fake! Getting hundreds of poor quality back links can only degrade your site ranking. Do not buy back links...earn it!
- Do not follow others: Web Analysts have clearly mentioned one point: Do not follow others. Keep an eye on your competitor sites but do not try to replicate their SEO techniques. Something that has worked for them does not guarantee it will work for you. There are 100s of other parameters to watch out for.
- Never ever get penalized: Do not do anything wrong. At every step of your online, you are being monitored. So keeping that in mind, do not get penalized from Google. It takes a lot of time to recover your site's fame and to come back to the top of search results again.
- No duplicate pages: Please see to it that you do not have duplicate pages (same content on more than one pages). If you do have such similar pages, try to redirect one page to the other.
- Avoid keywords stuffing: Keywords are not necessarily in your meta keywords tag. Key words are all the words used between your head tags. It can be in your meta description tag or meta author tag or any other meta tag. Do not repeat the same words again and again.
- No doorway pages: According to the definition, doorway pages are web pages that are created for spamming. This is for spamming the index of a search engine by inserting results for particular phrases with the purpose of sending visitors to a different page. Avoid!
- No hidden links business: Never ever try to use hidden links in your content. Its a clear sign of spamming. Especially if you are using Adsense Ads program, do not use hidden links to your ads. It may affect your site ranking.
- Text navigation: Try to avoid animations or drop-down menus for navigation on your site. Some scripts work differently in some browsers so in that case people will find it hard to navigate your site that would be fatal for your site. Keep it to text links. Keep it simple.
- Hidden text: Hiding text should be avoided. Some people hide the text from users so it is only seen by search engines. This is considered a bad activity and is strictly not recommended as a good SEO practice.
- Do not flood social media: Social media sites like Google+, Facebook, twitter, etc are meant to generate true followers for your site. It is not meant to spam their walls with your stuff continuously. Spamming report are growing concern for social media users. Do not fall pray to such activities.
- Authority takes time: To build the authority of a good site takes time, both for the users and for the search engines. Have patience. Gradually keep updating. No site is perfect. But following these points can at least bring you close to perfection.
- Balance out both the type of SEO: Yes this is the summary! Balance both the on page and off page SEO work. Being good at one thing and avoiding other is not going to help you at long run.
- Try to read Google Updates: Google keeps on adding new algorithms to their search. It makes some of the information about the search public. Try going through this updates and learn if you are suppose to make any SEO changes related to the new updates.
- Use many tools: There are so many official online tools out there. It is all meant for site owners for their use. All these tools can be of great help to understand things about your site in much greater detail. You become much more knowledgeable on whats happening on your site.
- Optimize: At many instances you may find that even after months, you are not getting enough response to your site or some individual pages. Do not worry. Come back and revisit the points. You either might be missing some key elements or the search is so saturated that you need to optimize and change few things on your page. Keep optimizing until you don't see a better response...and yeah no frequent changes...it may take few months for traffic to gather.
- Summary: Good SEO will surely bring more traffic but with a lot of your gradual efforts. Again no site on this web is perfect. Just try to be the best amongst your competitors in a genuine way. There are no shortcuts. And with an increasing competition, this will become even more difficult. However, the results obtained after this work is awesome...truly awesome. Visitors will start coming to your site and your that dream will always come true. Happy working for your site!
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