What is SEO – ‘SEO’ is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. The process in which to make a document easily accessible for search engine bots to understand and properly organize and display your website higher within it’s search results.
SEO has many factors and components that equate to it’s result placement on the search engines. Each search engine has a different algorithm in which is uses to rank webpages according to the end-users search term. Search Engines regularly make modifications to refine the quality of the search results. People or businesses that keeping up with these changes usually are labeled ‘Search Engine Specialist’ and can easily become a huge asset to a business.
Making SEO a priority when developing a webpage can become pretty stressful. So I have put together some top things to look out for when developing your website. Take it as sort of a search engine optimization check list.
The Search Engine Optimization checklist
Gorgous Graphical interfaces
One of the hardest yet blatant SEO look overs people have are the aesthetics of their pages. Getting people to your website is only half the battle. Confidence levels of your customers in your business takes a professional presentation. Consistent professional appearance. That means if your homepage is beautiful so should your contact page! This ranges from your business card to your newsletters!
Ensure you have all the main social media accounts that are currently popular. Remember these changes constantly but don’t be in a rush to switch over. Try to connect them with your website and vice versa. This is becoming more and more important as search engine marketing and optimization is evolving into the social age. A large online social outreach is worth lots now. Do your best to expand your ‘outreach’.
Broad Keyword Use in Page Title
When search engines rank your page for a keyword, they consider the page title tag (<title>) to be the most important place for some form of the keyword to appear. Using a keyword or phrase in your title helps search engines associate the page with a topic and/or set of terms.
Accessible to Search Engines
To rank in search results, search engines have to be able to crawl and index your pages. Before you can benefit from keyword targeting or other optimization techniques, you must make sure your page is accessible to the search engines. You can do this by setting up webmaster accounts with all the major search engines such as Google & Bing.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing in Pages
If you use keywords too many times in the webpages text, search engines may tag your page for keyword stuffing (a form of search engine spam), which can hurt your rankings in the search engines, as well as appear spam-like to potential visitors in the search results. This technique was used back in the day by search engine specialists but now it is considered ‘black hat’ and should be avoided at all costs.
Avoid Multiple Page Title Elements
Web pages are meant to have a single title, and for both accessibility and search engine optimization reasons, we strongly recommend following this practice.
Only One Canonical URL
The canonical URL tag is intended to refer duplicate pages to a single canonical URL. To ensure the search engines properly parse the canonical source, your page should use only one version of this tag in the header.
Exact Keyword is Used in Page Title
Higher rankings are strongly connected to the use of a keyword in the title tag. When search engines rank your page for a keyword, they consider the page title tag (<title>) to be the most important place for the keyword to appear. Using a keyword or phrase in your title helps search engines associate the page with a topic and/or set of terms.
Exact Keyword Used in Document at Least Once
Search engines and potential visitors are both seeking the targeted keywords in the text of your page. Using keywords in the document element is not only a best practice, but an essential part of SEO and good user experience. Keep in mind unnatural keyword density is penalized. Simply put don’t sound like a robot.
Use Static URLs
Using a static URL can improve your performance in search engine rankings. URLs with dynamic parameters have dramatically worse performance in the rankings. Using dynamic parameters does not necessarily cause worse rankings, but there does appear to be a correlation, and they generally do lead to lower click-through rates. Dynamic URLs are also a common source of duplicate content.
Sufficient Words in Content
Search engines seek pages that contain a sufficient amount of machine-readable content, assuming those pages are more likely to fulfill the goals of potential visitors. Pages with unique machine-readable content are also much less likely to be seen as duplicates of other pages and removed from the index as such. The 50-word limit, while somewhat arbitrary, is a reasonable rule for an acceptable level of ‘minimum’ unique content in most cases.
URL Uses Only Standard Characters
If you only use characters that are common in URLs, it makes it easier for more users to access and interpret your URL. Not all users have keyboards that can easily enter less common characters, or browsers that support the display of these characters, and some special characters can look spammy. Using only standard characters can also avoid potential problems with your search engine ranking.
Use Meta Descriptions
While a meta description does not influence your page’s rankings in the search results, it can be valuable to improve the click-through rate of potential visitors from the results page, and to provide context to potential visitors about the page’s topic and focus. The meta description is also what will show up as a description when users share your page on social media sites like Facebook and Google+.
Keywords in the Meta Description
If your keywords are in the meta description tag, it is more likely search engines will use it as the snippet that describes your page. Potential visitors see the keyword bolded in the snippet, which increases your page’s prominence and visibility. Be careful not to use keywords excessively, however, as it can be seen as spam by both search engines and potential visitors and reduce the chance potential visitors will click-through to your page.
Use Keywords in your URL
Using your targeted keywords in the URL string adds relevancy to your page for search engine rankings, assists potential visitors identify the topic of your page from the URL, and provides SEO value when used as the anchor text of referring links.
Sufficient Characters in Content
Search engines seek pages that contain a sufficient amount of machine-readable content, assuming those pages are more likely to fulfill the goals of potential visitors. Pages with unique machine-readable content are also much less likely to be seen as duplicates of other pages and removed from the index as such. Our 800-character minimum is admittedly somewhat arbitrary, but it is a reasonable rule for an acceptable level of ‘absolute minimum’ unique content in most cases. This minimum amount is on the rise. Serve your viewers more than the search engines. If it takes most to fully explain your basis topic then take the time and write more.
Keywords in Image Alt Attribute
Using keywords in the alt attribute of an image on a page is surprisingly positively correlated with good rankings. It also helps your page rank better in image search, a popular and oft-employed universal search system. Correctly describing your images using keywords also adds value for sight-impaired users who may be using a text reader app to browse the web.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing in the URL
If you use keywords more than once in the URL, search engines may flag your page for keyword stuffing (a form of search engine spam), which can hurt your rankings in the search engines, as well as appear spam-like to potential visitors. Keyword stuffing also makes your URL longer than it needs to be, which can have a negative effect on users and search engines alike.
Optimal Page Title Length
When search engines display your page on their results page, they often only show about the first 70 characters (the exact number of characters depends in part on how many pixels wide each character is, but 70 is a good target overall). If your title is longer than this, engines may truncate your title with an ellipsis or replace it with other text. The best possible title (and best way to encourage potential visitors to click through to your page), is a title tag that is less than 70 characters long.
Optimal Use of Keywords in H1 Tags
Although using targeted keywords in H1 tags on your page does not directly correlate to high rankings, it does appear to provide some slight value. It’s also considered a best practice for accessibility and helps potential visitors determine your page’s content, so we recommend it. Over-using keywords, however, can be perceived as keyword stuffing (a form of search engine spam) and can negatively impact rankings, so use keywords in H1 tags 2 or fewer times. To adhere to best practices in Google News and Bing News, headlines should contain the relevant keyword target and be treated with the same importance as title tags.
Minimize URL Length
Search engines often truncate the URL display at 75 characters and appear to pass less keyword value in longer URLs. We also recommend using fewer than three subfolders in your URL to make it easier for search engines to parse.
Avoid Too Many Internal Links
Google has confirmed that the use of too many internal links on a page will not trigger a penalty, but it can influence the quantity of link juice sent through those links and dilute your page’s ability to have search engines crawl, index, and rank link targets.
Avoid Too Many External Links
Linking externally is generally a good thing, but as with many optimization tactics in SEO, moderation is the best path. If your page uses a high number of followed external links, it may prevent the engines from passing much value through any given link and may also set off spam/manipulation triggers, particularly if those links are not pointing to high quality/trustworthy sites.
Keyword Placement in Page Title
There is a direct relationship between proximity to the beginning of the title element and prominence/rankings as seen by the search engines, and the closer to the end of the page title the keyword appears, the worse the correlation with high rankings.
Only One Meta Description
If you have multiple meta descriptions, it can confuse the search engines and they may not display the intended meta description tag.
Includes a Rel Canonical Tag
The Canonical URL tag tells the search engines that your page should be treated as though it were a copy of the URL the tag points to, and that all of the link and content metrics should flow back to the canonical URL (the one you want all the link juice to go to). You can use it to increase the possibility that a page with parameters attached (for example, query strings, session IDs, scraped versions, or licensing deals) doesn’t create a secondary version of the original page and pull link juice or other metrics away.
Pages may also contain a canonical tag that references the URL it is located on, also known as a ‘self-referencing’ canonical tag. While Google search has stated that this is fine, it is not known whether or not this can cause problems in Bing search.
Optimal Meta Description Length
The snippets that search engines use to describe your page, cut off after 156 characters in most cases. The meta description isn’t used for rankings, so words beyond this count aren’t seen by anyone or used by the search engines.
Use External Links
Linking externally is something the search engines have suggested provides potential ranking rewards, and many who’ve tested this can confirm it has SEO value. On any page specifically targeting a keyword, link externally to at least one (and possibly more than one) relevant, trusted resources as a best practice.
Building backlinks to your webpages is HUGE. Understanding what are Backlinks can be difficult. Imagine these as votes for your website and each for has different values depending on who it is linking to you. A more reputable website with lots of high quality backlinks to themselves have lots of ‘link juice’. Some of this ‘link juice’ is given to your website when they link to you. Your goal is to get high quality websites that are relevant to your website to link to you. Remember, when you link to other websites you are giving away your juice so choose wisely. Soon I will be putting together a list of white hat link building techniques.
I hope this guide helped you work toward the right direction with your search engine optimization while understanding what SEO is. Ranking your website’s pages is a sluggish process and takes lots of hard work and time at the end of the day it will all pay off. Don’t cut corners and serve your users before search engines. With these tips and guidelines you will be well on your way to surpassing your competition!