Just so we're both starting on the same foot,
here's what "Search Engine Optimization" means
SEO is the process of making your website attractive to search sites and
easy for them to accurately list you, also making it easy for people to find you and enticing them to
click-through to your site, and being persuasively on-target so that their expectations are fulfilled
when they arrive.
Notice I said nothing about "keywords" or "ranking
highly". That's just part of the "easy to find" part.
At its fullest, SEO is a multi-step, ongoing process that encompasses
everything from your site's look and the form of its code, to what you
say on each page and in all your site descriptions. At its simplest,
SEO is a checklist of things you can add or modify in a relatively short
time. SEO is a subset of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which includes
paid search listings and your overall marketing strategy. "Organic" SEO
consists of things that are visible on your web pages and the underlying code,
including some of the documents. Organic SEO takes awhile to accomplish,
and awhile to work, but once done and successful, you can sit back and
relax. Sort of.
Get the DETAILED
This "top-line" version of my SEO Checklist tells
what to do. The detailed version tells how.Like this page (which I'm in the process of updating), the Detailed Checklist is very out of date,
but parts of it will still be helpful. And it's free. Get it now.
IMPORTANT UPDATE (2019):
SEO techniques are constantly evolving, and since my first version of this
list in 2008, they have changed a LOT. In fact, some aspects of SEO have become so
complex that it would be silly to list them all here. The average businessperson
would waste a lot of time by trying to keep abreast of standards and trends, and
very possibly could be tweaking on the basis of obsolete information.
But, if you know anything about the topic, you might ask, "Yes, but what about 'organic' SEO --
things I can do once, or just now and then, that will enhance my search engine position based
simply on what is on my pages? In other words, without fancy programming, embedded codes and continual
revision and other work?"
The sad response these days is, "That IS organic SEO -- even the static, natural changes you might incorporate
into your site have become more extensive, more complicated, and different in their nature. For example, while it is
still important to incorporate keywords and key phrases, the days of salting them at prescribed intervals in a certain
percentage relative to your overall content ... those days have come and gone. There is so much competition for position, that
it's first critically important to understand how people will search for your site, exactly what phrases they will use, and
embed those phrases in a natural way. Overdoing it can actually get you penalized!
More important is your site's reputation, and your reputation as an authority or go-to-source for the type of
product or information your site is about. That means developing unique, useful content, and cultivating links to it
from other sites having as much or more authority.
So, you can go through this list. It won't hurt to attend to these practices (and avoid the no-no's), many of which are now almost two
But for a current list of important SEO practices that don't require special expertise (other than being a good, knowledgeable
writer), I'll refer you to some authorities respected throughout the SEO industry:
SearchEngineLand.com:The 40-point SEO checklist for startups ... The entire SearchEngineLand site is one of the original search engine authorities and still a champ.
Its co-founder Danny Sullivan is currently a public liason officer at Google.
Somewhat redundant here but still up-to-the-minute with lots of SEO and SEM details, this site was founded and sold by Danny Sullivan before he moved on to Search Engine Land.
Michigan TechFive Ways to Improve your Site's Ranking (SEO) ... I chose this almost at random. There are a zillion such lists and this one is hardly exhaustive. But it's not promoting
its own SEO services, and in turn, it includes some good further resources, including Google Webmaster Tools.
Nevertheless, attention to all these points will take you a long way. They
are in the order you should take them, but many can be done at the same
time. As far as it goes, I have tried to update it reasonably well for 2019.
One more important point ...
... that I barely touch on below is the impact of "web content" on Search Engine results. In pursuit of
rankings, countless websites are constantly adding "content" (how I hate that word!) of various sorts, often in the form of "blog" posts or articles. Don't get me started on that subject; it's
grist for an article in itself. For now, suffice it to say that before you start blogging, you should understand exactly what you hope to achieve, how to
make your blog worth reading, and how to promote it.
The point is to be seen as an authority in your field and acquire genuine referrals from other sites and authors. There are
already way, way, way too many blithering "bloggers" saying pretty much the same things. That's not helpful to their cause, nor to rest of us.
Although this list is probably not exhaustive, it may be exhausting. So another way to do all this is is simply to call or
write an experienced SEO copywriter.
How're you doing now?
Spot-check the major search engines and note how your site
Don't over-use or misuse rank-checking automation.
If it's working, don't "fix" it. Much.
But do keep your site fresh and persuasive. Do
Use your prospect's words, not just your own.
Focus on phrases, not words.
What keyphrases are most popular? Learn this at Wordtracker
What relevant keyphrases have less competition? (Wordtracker tells you this, too.)
Use relevant keyphrases having a high popularity-to-competition ratio. (Wordtracker quantifies this for you.)
Is NOBODY searching online in your category? Use other channels
to market your site.
Mind your appearance and architecture
Make your site visually attractive.
Make your site's operation clear and highly usable.
Is the your site's topic apparent at first glance?
Are your filenames based on relevant keywords?
Try to avoid frames. If you can't or don't want to, use appropriate
Eliminate or deal with spider traps (e.g., dynamic URLs). Implement
workarounds if necessary.
Include a special Sitemap page for spiders. And
a different site map page for people.
Include a robots.txt file.
Avoid delays and dead ends.
Never say "under construction" on a live site.
Write clean overall code
Put your indexable content as early as possible in the source
Minimize use of multiple nested tables and other complex page
Include spider-friendly navigation.
Remember that spiders don't read images and generally don't
Include alternative text within <noscript> tags.
This "top-line" version of my SEO Checklist tells what
to do. The detailed version tells how. It's free. Get it now.
Make use of codes ("Tags", "Attributes", Etc.) A unique Title tag for each page.
A specific, compelling Description meta tag for each page.
Keywords meta tag.
Image "alt" attributes. (Also use them to sell.)
Title attributes (don't confuse this with Title Tag).
Headlines and headers.
Use keywords as your links
Use <a name=> Links.
Table caption tags, if appropriate.
Image captions, if appropriate.
Make the site keyword and content rich
Have content throughout the site.
Make it unique content.
Keyword placement and frequency are important not too
little, nor too much.
Be sure it's written VERY well. You should be conscious of
the way you embed keywords, but your visitors shouldn't be aware of
it at all. Make human visitors your first priority. Give them concise,
highly readable web copy that quickly delivers what they were looking
for, and lead them directly to the action you want most -- be it a
sale, phone contact, email, a download, etc.
Avoid the unintended faux pas
Avoid invisible text.
Avoid teensy-weensy text.
Optimize your entire site.
Optimize your interior pages.
Give each page its own focus.
Submit to Search Engines and Directories. For each Directory,
select your category and word your description carefully.
Know what you submission software does, and keep it careful.
Do not oversubmit.
Some, including Google and Yahoo, accept site map submissions in certain formats.
Plan Open Directory (dmoz.org) and Yahoo Directory carefully.
Read ALL the instructions at ODP. Leave Yahoo till last, and only if you need it.
Cultivate quality links and avoid garbage links.
Write custom emails.
Suggest the page you should be on, and if not self-evident,
briefly explain why.
Offer descriptions they can use.
Ask them to link using a keyphrase of yours, but not the same one for every partner.
Reciprocate conservatively. Don't water down your pages. If
your site will really make the other one more valuable to its visitors,
the site should want to link to you regardless.
Links from Yahoo and Open Directory count bigtime.
There are ways tools to search for sites compatible with yours, and which link to your
competitors. Also try Ken Evoy's Value Exchange.
Participate meaningfully in Web 2.0 communications blogging, social networking, etc. (The value in this
goes beyond just SEO.)
Evaluate any server-side techniques you are using, for honesty
and SEO compatibility.
Don't delete or rename old pages that are well indexed. Instead update
them, or politely redirect to the new one(s), manually or automatically
Keep the site active. Re-upload various pages now and then, after making small revisions.
Be sure pages appear quickly and without errors.
Do bridge pages/landing pages honestly
Build bridge pages if/as needed, and give them true content.
Evaluate Pay-Per-Click directory opportunties, and plan for
Convert visitors into sales.
Improved sales conversion often outweighs improved SEO performance.
Keep at it.
Do it again.
GET THE DETAILED
This "top-line" version of my SEO Checklist tells
what to do. The detailed version tells how.
It's free. Get it now.
If you have a question about your SEO project, existing or planned,
please write, or call me.