1. SEO from the beginning.
You should incorporate SEO planning into your website project right from the get go. Many builders opt for the “build first, ask later” approach and inevitably get fried as a result. Don’t be like the entrepreneur who spent thousands on a
marketing and advertising campaign around his new website’s launch which
was built entirely using Flash. Save yourself time and money by making
SEO a priority right from the beginning which will influence the way the
design, layout and content of the website is built and placed.
Constantly meet up with the SEO project team to ensure that all site
elements are addressed, such as tags, links, content, site architecture,
URL, code and redirects. SEO matters should always be considered from
the website planning and development stage all the way to the
maintenance phase, and beyond.
Things to take note of:
-Flash-type website is not good for SEO. Spiders can’t read flash
-Websites full of graphics and little text cannot rank well, as spiders can’t see images.
-Focus on building text-based websites. The longer and more useful information there is, the merrier.
-Focus on having only one main keyword per web page.
2. Use the right keywords.
Sounds easy? Picking the
right keywords to use requires a thorough understanding of what words
and phrases your target audience is likely to use when entering search
queries and a strong research effort to optimize said words. Stand in
their shoes and determine what words they are going to enter to find
your website and web pages. Don’t use technical and sophisticated terms;
searchers don’t understand what they mean and won’t bother inputting
them to find what they want. Instead use layman terms. As mentioned, use
phrases that narrow down the focus and attract your intended target
audience. Devise a list of words that you think are relevant to your
website, and then use keyword research tools to further refine and
whittle down the list. Take the following into consideration when
deliberating on the choice of keywords:
• Strong relevancy for which you can create content to support and build on.
• Low number of search results and small competition.
• Popular terms that many people use and, hence, a high search volume.
careful research to find the right balance. You do not want keywords
that are so generic that you will have a hard time getting into the
rankings (let alone finding your target audience) and yet you also do
not want them to be too narrow and specific that no one will search for
them. Also, consider the following once the keywords have been chosen:
• For best results, each web page should have 1 main keyword and 4 related keywords at most.
Support your keywords with relevant text and content, and all of this
information should be placed high up on the web page, at the very
beginning of the body of content.
• Be sure to include keywords
in the following elements: navigation links, headings, all tags (title,
description, and meta), and alt text.
Keep the keyword list
updated and anticipate cyclical changes when keywords will evolve to
suit a particular event or circumstance. Store keywords into an
inventory and constantly run keyword research tools on them to see
what’s hot and what’s not at any given moment. As your website grows and
evolves along with customer needs and wants, so too will your keyword
list grow in tandem.
Do not go overboard and saturate your web
pages with keywords, hoping to rank high on search engine rankings this
way. You may find yourself pushed lower instead. In SEO, keyword density
means the percentage of times a particular keyword appears on a webpage
compared to the total number of words in that webpage. Spiders that
crawl and detect a high keyword density may conclude that you are merely
padding your webpage with that keyword (keyword stuffing) to try to
attract traffic and they may penalize you by downgrading your search
engine ranking based on that keyword. A general rule of thumb is to keep
the keyword density around 2 to 4 percent in body content. This is the
best range from my experience.
3. Targeted, directed traffic over mass traffic.
SEO efforts should be about getting qualified traffic, traffic that
matters. Fact is, general visitors to your site are going to spend just a
little amount of time on your website. Targeted visitors are going to
see if your site really has what they want, what they need. A sound SEO
plan will answer the visitor’s query and attend to his needs as soon as
he arrives at the website, such as through optimised content management
whereby rich, relevant information such as articles and links are
strategically placed on the body of the page.
4. Every page on your website is an access point.
Google ranks pages, not domains. Gone are the days when the website’s
homepage served as the primary access point from which visitors examine
and navigate the rest of the website. SEO has flung wide the doors of
opportunity and now searchers can be directed to their destinations
without having to navigate through a primary homepage. Indeed, they can
land anywhere on your website as long as it pertains to what they are
seeking. Smart online business owners will know that the importance of
SEO is not limited to just the traditional homepage of the website, but
every page has the potential to attract potential customers and be the
setting point from which they further explore their website. Hence, be
sure to address potential customer needs and wants by having clear, easy
site navigation, well written site content that tells the visitor which
part of the site they are on and where to go to further their queries
within the site, an internal search tool, comparable listings, and site
anchors. Every web page should have a clear main keyword, appropriate
meta tags, descriptions, page titles and qualified content so that they
go with your targeted audience’s queries and needs when they search
online and navigate to your webpage.
5. Content, content, content
At its heart SEO is about
the proper usage of words, words and words. Clear, easy to understand
content that informs and answers the queries and questions of searchers
will attract traffic. Most importantly, good and relevant content can
retain traffic. Whether you like it or not, Google is extremely good at
tracking visitor behavior. If a site’s visitors show satisfaction, then
Google will reward that site with better ranking, since it means that
the search results displayed is very relevant to what the searchers
want. It will also give spiders a lucid idea of what your site is about
and what it aims to achieve. Be sure to observe proper grammar and
spelling, proper placement and usage of keywords and phrases, and the
content must be fresh, up to date and be presented in short, easily
readable paragraphs. You don’t have to do all the writing by yourself.
Make use of user generated content such as reviews, feedbacks, news
feeds and research reports to bolster your existing content.
6. Your image is at stake
Do a quick search on Google
and see what results you get when you enter your business’ name, your
name, your employee’s name, the nature of your business, and other
queries related to your online business. You may be surprised to find
that there are negative things said about you out there. Worst, it could
be very first thing you see on the first page. It might be negative
content that has since lost its relevancy as time goes by. It might have
been a fault about your product that your business has since corrected.
However, just by sitting there on the first spot of search engine
rankings today, it’s going to give searchers and your audience a
negative perception about you right off the bat. What’s an online
business to do? Engage SEO and make sure that you optimize your web
site’s on-page and off-page leverage so it gets to, and stays, at the
top, knocking off the bad press pages. Marketing and branding wise, be
smart and generate useful content to project a positive image. Engage
your viewers, both good and bad, to see what needs to be done. Have
constant, frequent dialogue with bloggers, customers and online
communities. Spread good things about your online business that you know
will set tongues wagging (and fingers clicking) on the Internet, such
as contributions to noble causes and charitable donations. Good image
helps branding, which in turn builds word of mouth on the Internet,
which translates to more backlinking to your web site. Others will pick
up the good news and create their own positive content about your online
business. Over time, quite simply, the good content is going to grow
and grow, meaning more free backlinks!
7. Whenever you can, be specific
Use keywords and
phrases instead of pronouns. Don’t use “we”, “us”, “our”, for example.
Spiders aren’t going to understand what those terms are referring to.
Instead, use terms like “ABC corporation” whenever you can.
8. Place the keywords and phrases at the beginning of the content.
allocate more value to words and phrases that are placed near the top
of the content, especially the first 100 words. They may read the entire
content from top to bottom, or they may not. Similarly, your visitors
may read the entire content from beginning to end, but they aren’t
likely to read all of it if the first few sentences don’t have the
keywords or phrases that will anchor their attention to your webpage.
Present yourself clearly and effectively from the beginning.
9. Use keywords and phrases as often as possible.
don’t go overboard and place words and phrases for the sake of spider
crawling alone. Be intelligent and creative in how you present your
content. Keep in mind the content is for your target market, not for the
spiders. Before starting to write, research the keywords and phrases
that are relevant to what you are doing and that will accomplish your
goals, and make sure that they match precisely what your intended target
audience will be entering into their search engine queries.
10. Use semantically related words.
To take advantage of
latent semantic indexing, use words and phrases that are related to
your main keyword or phrase and include them into your web page. Search
engines give more priority and rank higher those pages that back up
their keywords with related terms. For example, if your website is about
computers, use related terms like PC, hardware, software, laptop,
desktop, computers, computing, mouse, monitors, hard drive, motherboard,
processor, and so forth, throughout your whole website.
11. Observe differing versions of keywords and phrases.
the plural and singular form for words and phrases. Ascertain the way
searchers enter the query words if they have various spelling forms
(digicam, digital camera). Be consistent about the way you enter
keywords and phrases into your web page. Use only one form of spelling
for one particular web page. So, as an example, you can use the term
“digital camera” as the main keyword for one web page, and its variant
term “digicam” as the main keyword for another page. Doing this also
helps you rank for multiple keywords.
12. Have a preference for phrases over keywords.
are more likely to enter phrases than keywords into search boxes to
narrow down their search results and be more specific in finding what
they want. “Computer” is too generic as a keyword. Searchers may instead
enter “Dell studio 450”. In this case, you want to have a page that
targets this keyword. Use relevant phrases that will direct your target
audience to your web pages.
13. Don’t use images if you can write it.
and interpret text and cannot decipher images. If you can write it out,
then do so. If you want to put in images, at least make sure to tag and
label them accordingly along with a proper caption. A description below
the image to tell what the image is about works very well.
14. Proper grammar and spelling
Proofread and edit your
content frequently to catch spelling mistakes and grammar errors. It
does no good if you spell your keywords wrongly and searchers aren’t
going to find your website on the search engines. Whenever your website
is updated with new content, make sure they are properly proofread. The
exception to the rule is, if you are targeting misspelled keywords, you
probably want to “intentionally” misspell the words so you can rank for
the misspelled keyword.
15. Snippets are important.
A snippet is the short text
that accompanies every search engine result. They are important in
drawing searchers to your site since they can be used to encapsulate
what your website/web page is about. Write a unique description meta tag
for every web page that you have so that searchers get a clear
understanding of what you offer on your site. Snippets are gaining more
importance nowadays as Google is tracking the click-through rates of
search results listings. If you are ranked #7 yet you have a better
click-through rate and retention rate than listing #5, you are probably
going to rank higher very soon, ceteris paribus.
16. Don’t use Flash.
Spiders don’t read Flash. If you
really must, create another HTML site to complement your Flash site.
Flash sites may be flashy and look very cool and modern, but when it
comes to SEO they might as well not exist.
17. Don’t duplicate your content.
Spiders don’t look too
kindly on blocks of the same text and content that appear on multiple
domains or pages of the same website. Vary your content from page to
page, domain to domain. Use “nofollow” and “noindex” to block spiders
from accessing the duplicates otherwise.
18. Create your website using clean, efficient coding.
clunky, messy coding that will confuse spiders as they crawl through
your website. Search engines like websites with clean, uniform, precise
and efficient code that are more semantically defined and that comply
with the latest Web standards.
19. Don’t use splash pages.
Splash pages, in order to
grab the viewer’s attention, are rich in visual graphics and sound but
have minimal text content. This is poor optimization for spiders when
they crawl through your site. Therefore don’t use splash pages if you
can help it.
20. Use internal linking.
Include links that navigate to
other areas of your website whenever the occasion presents itself.
Structure them in such a way so that visitors will connect the dots and
navigate from page to page because the contents are relevant to what
they want and need. Internal links also give spiders a chance to
investigate your website deeper and delve into more and more pages. Good
internal linking: Every page should be less than 2 clicks away from
your home page.
21. Text first, graphics second.
Spiders pay attention
to what’s placed on your webpage first. They look for words and give
higher priority to words that appear near the top of the page. If you
put too many images at the top of the page, the spiders may give a lower
ranking for your webpage. Put images at the bottom and text on top for
best effect. However, if you have a video, place it at the beginning,
above-the-fold. Videos have proven to lengthen visitors’ staying time on
your site, which can positively affect how Google judges your site.
22. Title tag is king.
What you type here for the title
tag will be the exact same words and phrases that appear in the title
bar. More importantly, they also appear as the text for links for search
engine results. When spiders enter your site, the first thing they are
going to see is your title tag. Therefore, make sure that the words used
in the title tag are related to the keywords for your SEO. Since each
HTML or XHTML web page on your site requires a title tag, customize and
optimize for each web page by using highly-targeted, focused keywords
that are relevant to each. Use proper grammar and apply seperators such
as commas and semicolons when writing text for title tags to make text
structure easier to comprehend. While it’s very tempting to squeeze as
many keywords into the title tag as possible, bear in mind that the
content of the web page is also very important in determining SEO as
well. You may end up with a long and rumbling web page that would have
served SEO purposes better had it been split up into several web pages.
Hence, it may be necessary to make two or more separate web pages so
that the keywords and content are aligned in purpose and optimization is
23. Get linked.
Much like how we humans have friends who
exert more influence and popularity than others in a social network,
the same can be pretty much said for websites who share a common
background or network. Links are therefore the relationships that
connect websites to each other. Similarly, one of the criteria search
engines use to determine your placing on the page rankings is by looking
at the quality of the links to your site. The more links to your site
from other places on the Internet, called inbound links, the more esteem
you have according to the eyes of the search engines. However, quality
matters over quantity. To get quality inbound links, they must come from
related and relevant websites that have high page rankings. Usually,
these websites are perceived as the authoritative head by members of the
relevant community and hence have great sway and prestige. Request the
site owner for a link to your website politely and return the favour if
accepted. It is also good marketing and business practise to provide
links to these websites from your own. Finally, manage your links and
discard those that link to non-existent web pages, or have not been
updated in a long time.
24. Avoid bad company.
Just as you would do your best to
get quality inbound links to your website, you have to be mindful of
bad apples that could potentially ruin your page ranking standings by
way of association. Websites that have a spotty reputation and that use
unethical and sneaky means of getting visitors to their site or to
increase their page rankings are definitely to be avoided at all costs.
Some of the methods these websites employ include:
• Duplicitous content
• Keyword stuffing
• Violating copyright laws
• Link farming
• Doorway pages
• Installation of software without the user’s permission or knowledge
refrain from the above practises or you will find yourself losing more
than just your page ranking standings. Check the background of sites
that you are linking to, and that are going to be linked to you. Link
only to contextually relevant websites with a solid, proven background
and reputation. At the same time, constantly update your website with
original content and observe ethical business practices so that your
website is beyond reproach, which in turn means more quality inbound
25. Avoid farming links.
You may have come across web
pages where the only thing you can see is a sea of links, with minimal
or no useful content whatsoever. These are link farms, which exist
solely to stuff the site with as many links as possible to boost their
visibility to spiders and searchers alike. This is a deceptive practise
and all search engines frown heavily on this kind of link stuffing.
That’s why it is very important that when you create outbound links to
other websites, make very certain that those websites share a contextual
relevance with your own and harness only good quality links. When
considering whether to link to a site, check the website and especially
take note of the content of the website. If the contents appear to be
irrelevant to what the website is purported to be about, or if the
contents seem to be duplicated or otherwise dubious, then it is best not
to link to that site. Also, see if there is some contact information on
the website. You have the right to be highly suspicious if the web site
provides no contact information of any kind. As always, exercise
caution and due diligence when you want to consider outsourcing and hire
the services of search engine optimizers who promise you thousands and
thousands of quality links to boost your page rankings in no time flat.
There is a high chance that the person is using unscrupulous methods to
get those links such as software-generated link farming.
26. Avoid keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is the
practise of overloading web page content or its meta tags with keywords
for the purpose of increasing search visibility and page ranking. Some
ingenious technics used back in the day include hiding text in the
background by blending them together in the same color and using
cascading style sheets (CSS) positioning. It goes without saying that
search engines have clamped down hard on this method and it is now no
longer effective in SEO. However, there are still black hat SEOs out
there who want to outsmart the system and still employ keyword stuffing
albeit in a different form. These now include:
• Tiny text (to maximize page space for keyword stuffing)
• Duplicating the content
• Hiding text
sure to write content that is geared for the end users rather than for
the system to increase your page ranking. A world of good can only come
if you constantly provide quality content.
Robots.txt files are essentially
barriers that prevent spiders and other search crawlers from accessing a
particular web page. For example, if your website has web pages with
duplicate content or sensitive information, you will want to include a
robots.txt to these pages so that they don’t get indexed and appear on
search engines. The common format is:
User-Agent: [Spider or Bot name]
Disallow: [Directory or file name]
open notepad or another text editor and enter the lines of text. One of
the foremost reasons for using a robots.txt file is to protect privacy
and to block out certain sections of a website that have no relevancy to
its primary uses and functions. Take note that robots.txt files are not
a complete safeguard against intrusion of privacy, however. Always take
safety precautions and build smart website structures and hierarchies
to minimize risk.
28. What to look for in a SEO.
There are many different
kinds of SEOs out there, and with the increasing sophistication and
diversity of both search engine optimization and Internet devices, you
should pick a SEO that would best suit your needs, aims and objectives.
Check the credentials of the SEO and make sure that he walks the talk,
so to speak. Speak with clients whom the SEO has worked with before and
determine what methods he employs to optimize page rankings. To get a
better understanding of the SEO:
• Request for the SEO’s portfolio of work and testimonials
• Past experience and current outlook about SEO
• Clients and referrals
• Value-added services, if any
• Affiliations and associations that the SEO is a member of
• Practices and methods used
• Fees and charges
expected duties of SEOs today also encompass the areas of site traffic,
link and network building and helping increase conversion rates.
Consult with the SEO about the services offered and how that would best
fit in with your overall strategy. Make sure to discuss the following
points with your SEO and improvise and adjust as necessary as the
• Site coding, structure and hierarchy
• Optimization by media platform
• Keyword and phrase research
• Content development
• Linking and networking strategy
• Ongoing monitoring and rank reporting
instant quick fix offers and solutions that “guarantee” instant high
page rankings or other such dubious claims. Some SEOs may indeed give
you fast short term gains but with awful long term consequences. Don’t
get scammed and if an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Generally, stay away from black hat practices and work hard and
diligently at ethical, legal SEO methods and the results will come.
29. Search is getting more personalized.
search engines are already offering users and searchers many options and
choices for narrowing down their searches so that they can get to what
they want quickly and efficiently. Many other factors are also playing
havoc with the concept of being ranked highly in the search engines,
particularly now that search engines are getting more and more
personalized and detailed in their search criteria offerings. Depending
on region, personal details, language, filters and preferences, what may
be a number one ranking for a particular query may not even appear at
all for another similar search. What this means for SEO is that SEO is
never a one-and-done deal; it is an organic process that continues to
evolve and adapt to externally changing situations and circumstances so
that a particular site will remain high in its rankings.
30. User generated content (UGC).
content, also known as user created content (UCC) are publicly available
media content that are created by end users. In the world of SEO, they
are a major force to be reckoned with as they increase visibility and
spread awareness of a brand or website. Examples of UGC include reviews
and testimonials. You may have already seen reviews done by your friends
or family on a product and may have even done some reviewing of your
own. Some UGC may link back to your website, while others may provide
quality content about it. It is good practise to create and foster an
online community where users get to trade information and opinions with
one another so that you can maximize your site’s exposure and increase
its page rank through content creation and keyword generation on the
community’s part. However, the community must be genuine and be free
from outside interference, even your own. Moderation is practical so
long as it deals with abuses and other infractions that would harm the
community. Encourage user participation on your website by having
contests and other such events so that more UGC is created. Lastly, keep
in mind that UGC such as reviews can be either positive or negative.
You cannot satisfy everyone 100%, but know that the good outweigh the
bad by far when it comes to user created content for SEO.
31. Google Sandbox effect.
Many falsely refer to the
Google sandbox effect as either their website being delisted or listed
under supplemental results. Sandbox merely means Google is testing the
ranking, nothing bad about that. However, getting delisted is a problem,
while getting into supplemental index is another case. The real sandbox
is the one that new domains are indexed to. For Google to determine a
new domain’s ranking, they will place the new domain a little bit higher
on the search rankings so that more visitors will go to it initially.
Google can then profile the web site’s visitor response, from which
Google will be able to determine the correct placement of the website.
Usually, new domains will experience high ranking on the early stages,
and then suddenly experience a drop. This is because the early ranking
was only temporary and Google has since determined that the site does
not deserve a high ranking, hence dropping it. We also have cases where
google decided that the site deserved a higher ranking and got pushed
further up. This is the true sandbox.
The sandbox fear that
says too much backlinks will hurt a site is just a rumour. It was true
somewhere back in 2006 to 2007. Back then, SEO firms exploited this and
started spamming competitors’ site with thousands of backlinks a day to
see them drop dramatically in the rankings. After that, Google decided
that off-page linkbuilding will not affect your ranking. Google has even
publicly confirmed that off-page linkbuilding will NOT affect ranking
http://www.google.com/support/webmaster ... swer=34449
32. Duplicate content is fine (wait, what?).
sound absurd. You know that Google penalizes web sites for duplicating
content. Actually, this is true only if you duplicate content within
your own domain. For example, if you have the same content on both www.domain.com/ page1.html and www.domain.com/page2.html, then Google is going to penalize you. However, if the same content were to appear on two (or more) different domains, such as www.hisdomain.com/page1.html and www.herdomain.com/page1.html,
then Google will treat the content as if it were unique and not
penalize either site. This only makes sense as articles, press releases
and other content do get copied and duplicated over many different web
sites. What this means is that you can submit the same content to as
many sites as you want, for example submitting the same article to
dozens of article directories, without fear of being penalized or
downranked. Bear in mind that Google will be placing excessive
duplicated content in their supplemental index, which means, duplicates
won’t really show up in search results. It is still a fruitful practice
to submit the same content to as many relevant sites as possible so it
gains maximum exposure to readers and Internet users. These readers may
very well link to your original site from their own blogs, web pages or
sites and therefore increase traffic and the number of backlinks to your
More on duplicated content and getting flushed into
supplemental index: Most of the time, duplicate results are shown in a
supplemental index (that means, not displayed). Google has a problem
determining who is the original and who is the duplicate. This can
happen if someone else copied your content and Google actually thinks
the other person is the original and you are the duplicate. However,
there is still a way to let Google know who is the original. For
example, you have the same article on your site and on 1,000 article
directories. The best way to tell Google you are the original is to have
the 1,000 sites point a link back to your site. This is the same as
academic referencing where 1,000 sites referenced your site. Therefore,
this tells Google your site is the original source. Also, since 1,000
other sites referenced your site, it makes Google think that the content
is quite important and hence, rank better. If your content has been
copied and Google mistakenly puts you in the supplemental index, what
you can do is to change your content afresh and make a press release.
This way, you have unique content and the press release will bring the
spiders back to your site so Google can recache your site. This often
rescues a site from getting binned in the supplemental index.