A SEO Checklist

Search engine optimization is on every webmaster’s mind these days. Achieving a favorable ranking for the right keywords can mean a steady stream of targeted traffic to your site, and all for free – that is hard to beat. The key to high search engine rankings is structuring your website correctly, including plenty of content that is related to your keywords, and ensuring your website is spider-friendly.

You can use this checklist to make sure all of your Web pages can be found, indexed and ranked correctly:
Your website is themed.
Your site deals with a familiar theme that’s obvious from the text to the home page and strengthened by all the other pages on your site. To put it differently, each the individual Web pages relate to one another and deal with different aspects of a central motif. The text on your home page should say clearly what that theme is and what your website is all about, and also the other pages need to reinforce that.

Your Web pages have adequate high quality, relevant content.
Spiders come to your website searching for content. If a page doesn’t have plenty of content, or the content doesn’t appear closely related to the page’s name along with your website’s theme, the page probably won’t be indexed or if it is indexed it won’t rank well. Search engines love quality articles and lots of it – content is what Web searchers are looking for and search engines try to provide.

Your site’s navigational structure is relatively flat.
You don’t want important pages to be too”deep” within your website, meaning it takes several clicks to get there from the home page. Search engines typically index the home page first, then gradually index other pages on a web site with time. Many spiders are programmed to only go three layers deep – if some of your important content is buried deeper than that, it may never be found and found whatsoever.

You’ve created a unique”Title” tag for each page.
The title is one of the most important aspects of any Web page from an SEO standpoint, especially for Google (which is the most important search engine to optimize ). Don’t use a generic title for all your pages, use the keywords your targeting for that page and keep it brief but descriptive.

You use the “Description” meta tag.
Includes a very descriptive sentence about the content and purpose of your page, and contains your main keyword phrase early in the sentence. Not all of the search engines will display this”canned” description when they record the page in search results, but a lot will, so it’s worth getting it right.

You use the “Keywords” meta tag.
Much like the meta tag description, not every search engine will use the keywords meta tag. But some will use it and not one will punish you for having it. Also, having a short list of the keywords you’re targeting can help you write appropriate content for every page. The important word tage should include your targeted keyword phrase and regular variants, common misspellings and related terms. Make certain that your keywords relate closely to the page content and link to the general theme of your site.

Your keywords are inside the visible page content, rather high up on the page.
You will need to reach a balance here – you want to add keyword phrases (and variations ) a couple of times in your text, but not so many times that you appear to be guilty of”keyword stuffing”. The trick is to work the keywords into the text so that it reads as naturally as possible for your site visitors. Remember, you can incorporate keywords into any Web page component that is potentially viewable by site visitors – header text, link text and titles, table captions, the”Alt” attribute of the image tag, the”title” attribute of the link tag, etc..

Each page of your website could be reached by search engine spiders.
This is critical – if your pages can’t be found, they can’t be indexed and included in search results, let alone rank well. Search engines use spiders to explore your website and index the pages, so every page needs to be accessible by following text links. If pages require a password to view, are generated by a script in response to a query, or have a long and complicated URL, spiders may not have the capacity to read them. You should have simple text links to the pages you want indexed.

You’ve included a site map.
Unless your website is extremely small, it’s a wonderful idea to create a site map with text links which you link to the site map from your home page. Together with a connection, include descriptive text for containing the relevant keywords for each page.

You connect to your most important pages from other pages on your own site.
Internal links help determine page rank since they show which pages of your site are most important. The more links you need to get to a page, relative to additional pages on your site, the more importance search engines will assign to it.

You use keywords in your link text.
Whenever you make a text link to another page on your site, use that page’s targeted keywords as the text for your connection (inside the anchor tags that create the link ). Make it as descriptive as possible. By means of example, a link which says”Premium Customized Widgets” is much better than one that says just”Product Page”, and indicates to search engine spiders what that linked page is about.

Your website doesn’t use frames.
If it is possible, don’t use frames on any page that you want to get indexed by search engines. If you feel you simply must use frames to get a webpage, then take advantage of the”noframes” HTML tags to provide alternative text that spiders can read (and make that text descriptive rather than only a notice that”This site uses frames etc. etc.”).

You do not use automated page redirects.
Do not create any webpages automatically redirect the visitor to another page (the exception is a page you’ve deleted for good – in which case you want to use a”301 redirect”, a permanent redirect that is okay to search engines).

Your content is in plain text instead of contained in pictures.
Search engine spiders can’t”read” content in JPEG, GIF, or PNG files. If you genuinely feel that using a picture instead of text is vital to your design, at least put the identical text in the image’s”Alt” tag (or in the”title” tag if you’re using the image as a hyperlink).

Links and keywords are not hidden inside JavaScript code.
If your links use JavaScript to direct the user to the appropriate page (for instance, a drop-down list ) or relevant content is contained within JavaScript code (if it’s displayed dynamically using DHTML, by way of instance ) search engine spiders won’t be able to”see” it. You can, however, use the”noscript” HTML tags to provide an alternative which might be read by spiders.

You’ve optimized each important page of your website individually.
Do not stop at your home page. Take the problem to optimize any page which has a fair likelihood of being indexed by the major search engines, targeting appropriate keywords for each. If you face a whole lot of competition it may be nearly impossible to get a top ranking for your home page, but you can still get a fantastic deal of search engine traffic to your site from other pages that are focused on very specific keyword phrases.

You didn’t duplicate content.
Each page of your site should have unique content that distinguishes it from every other page on your site. Duplicating content or utilizing pages that are just slightly different could be seen as”search engine spamming” (trying to manipulate search engine results).

You supply linking instructions for men and women that would like to link to your site.
Somewhere on your website say your policies about other people linking to your site and provide the wording you’d like them to use in their relationship. You will need to encourage others to link to your site, preferably using link text and a description that reflect the keywords for that page. For their advantage source the readymade HTML code for the link – not everyone will use it, but most often they will use your favourite text as a courtesy as long as it is really descriptive of your site and doesn’t contain”marketing hype”.

You supply linking instructions for men and women that would like to link to your site.
Somewhere on your website say your policies about other people linking to your site and provide the wording you’d like them to use in their relationship. You will need to encourage others to link to your site, preferably using link text and a description that reflect the keywords for that page. For their advantage source the readymade HTML code for the link – not everyone will use it, but many will use your favourite text as a courtesy as long as it doesn’t include”marketing hype”.

Important links are plain text links and not image links or image maps.
Text links are better from an SEO perspective than image links, as spiders can’t read text from an image file. If you feel you must use a picture as a link, at least include a text description which (including the applicable important words ) using the”title” attribute of the link tag.

Your website is free of coding errors and broken links.
HTML coding errors and non-working links can keep search engine spiders from correctly reading and indexing your pages. As a result of this, it is a wonderful idea to use a Web page validation utility to check your HTML code to make sure it is error-free.