Your SEO checklist for success with search engines

Starting with your visitor… don’t skip this paragraph. Do not go straight to checklist below

Have a read of this interesting article before you have a look at the SEO checklist for success below. First and foremost your website and all its pages need to be designed and created with a single objective … to meet the needs of the person (i.e. individual, not company or business) who was searching for what your web pages offer. This is the single most over-riding objective since if you fail to meet such needs it doesn’t matter how many visitors come to your web pages.

Google calls this relevance. Web pages must be relevant to the search term(s) used to find your pages.

Search Queries and Keywords …

Efficient and comprehensive keyword research is the cornerstone around which ALL internet strategies should be built. These days there is little need except in extraordinary circumstances to buy keyword tools if you know how to use Google’s own free tools.

Until you have completed this vital keyword research phase it is a major challenge to design a web site that will work well.

In Reviewing this basic checklist …

Always bear in mind that no single search engine is a static entity … Google for example is continuously changing ranking algorithms. You need to keep abreast of changes in search and search technology. There are lots of good SEO blogs out there.

  • Optimize your <title> tags on every page … this tag is vital and must contain the main keyword phrase and preferable a synonym related to it
  • Create unique keyword and description meta tags for each page
  • Use important on page HTML mark-up tags and avoid deprecated ones like <b> and <font>
  • Use CSS (cascading style sheets) in your web page design\
  • Never use H1 more than once on a page
  • Make your page about the selected keyword phrase but also ensure it is not keyword stuffed and that it reads well.
  • Do not get a hang-up about keyword density and if you want to really do an excellent job then study LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing).
  • Use keywords in sub headings.
  • In general use the absolute URL for links within your pages.
  • It is probably helpful to have a domain with an important keyword embedded into it somehow.
  • Files names with keywords in them are good but do not overdo this … for example: www.yoururl.com/nokia-motorola-samsung-cellphones-cheap.htm is not a good idea
  • Make sure your site has a navigable site map on it and submit the site map (in a different format) to Google using their special page and xml layout
  • Make sure you verify the Google site map submission at Google. Very important!
  • Use a similar site map technique to submit your pages to Yahoo
  • In terms of MSN (and Yahoo and Google as well) there is an excellent way to get pages indexed … it needs quite a bit of explanation. So contact us for more.
  • Start building as many appropriate and relevant links from outside web sites that you can get and spread these incoming links throughout the site so that not all your links go to the home page.
  • Ensure that you use appropriate words in the anchor text of links wherever you can arrange this.
  • Add fresh UNIQUE high quality (in the eyes of the searcher not you necessarily although both is preferable) content to your site frequently … daily would be good.
  • Avoid Flash as the main page content and especially on home page
  • Avoid Frames… definitely
  • Try to use static HTML wherever you can rather than dynamic pages
  • Plain easy to read and understand websites outperform flashy ones in the vast majority of cases. The word used to cover this point is “USABILITY”
  • Follow to the letter the rules laid out by search engines in their “instructions to webmaster” pages.
  • Never use any of the myriad of tricks to attempt to “fool” the search engines.
  • Use plain text links on every page … if you must use image links then duplicate the links in text format elsewhere on the page
  • Make sure every mage has an “alt tag” description which preferably should contain a keyword but must read well
  • People have a real aversion to slow loading web pages (and in South Africa dial up connections are very slow. This means you need to limit the use of images and conserve page file size in general.
  • Submit to important directories … a good example is  GoGuides
  • Do not duplicate your own content and do not use other duplicated content
  • Seriously consider a Google Adwords campaign especially if your site is selling products or services.

Links are vitally important and as such it is a good idea to provide in html mark-up to assist your attempts to request a link. For example I would dearly like you to link to this page so to make it easier for you I have supplied the following html. All you now need do is copy this html and paste it into your own page. Once your page is uploaded to the web the link will look like the one below the html:

<p><a href=”http://www.projectdesign.co.za/seo-checklist/”>For an excellent search engine optimization (seo) check list please click here</a></p>

Don’t expect overnight miracles and keep working on your website.

Make sure you use a good stats package to track your site performance

Make the right decision in terms of your domain name … i.e. do you know whether it should be a .co.za, a .com or some other TLD. Most sites do not need to be .co.za in South Africa.

Success with SEO starts with a complete understanding of keywords and key phrases. Consider every search term to be a tiny niche market. You just cannot hope to succeed and gets lots of visitors without many targeted keywords for your website. In this regard you need to think like your customer … ask yourself the following question.

What are the many phrases (queries) my customers might type into Google to find my offering on the web? …. Let your mind wander. The more targeted the query and keyword the greater the chance of getting highly ranked SERP’s. For example if you are really only interested in attracting customers in Sandton, then Sandton is a very important keyword when used appropriately.

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