Beginner SEO Checklist

Every webmaster is concerned as to what SEO techniques should be followed to gain a maximum search engine rating and exposure. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a concrete checklist of such items? The following is my effort to create a comprehensive system of simple SEO techniques that with time will guarantee a top ranking for your site.

1. Select a list of realistic keywords

First, let me explain how the keyword selection process works. The tool I highly recommend on using is a Keyword Selector Tool from Overture, notable feature of which is ability to see keywords or keyword phrases that are most popular and bring the largest number of visitors. When selecting your keywords, keep the following in mind:

  • Highly ranked keywords are already taken

A search for SEO as a keyword returns 74002 as an estimated number of times keyword SEO was searched last month. SEO Company is second with 14271. Googling SEO returns 30,000,000 URLs with SEO Chat and SEO Today ranking first and second. You can imagine number of Google referrals these two sites get!

  • Target low-medium traffic keywords

Performing the same Overture link analysis, I can see that at the bottom of the list are keywords such as web site seo and web seo with 562 and 536 searches respectfully. This tells me that these keywords are not yet competitive and it would make sense to optimize for them.

As you can see, less competitive keywords have a greater potential of bringing more traffic. So be smart about picking your keywords, avoid highly competitive ones, but also don’t settle for the rock bottom.

  • Be specific when selecting keywords

If possible, select keywords that are specific to your site. As an example, select Honolulu SEO company as a keyword phrase rather than SEO company. This will greatly narrow down your site’s focus and will contribute to a higher Search Engine relevance.

2. Incorporate keywords in your Title tags

Search Engines place high importance on what you have in your Title tags. In fact it’s so important, that Google lists search results by Title tags. You can see your search queue bolded in each item. It’s very important that every page on your site contains a title, every title contains a keyword or a keyword phrase, and your content matches the idea behind your Title. More on that last one to follow.

3. Optimize your content for selected keywords

Content is king on the Net and Google prides itself for bringing you the most relevant results. So here’s a list of must-do content optimization techniques.

  • Place keywords in H1, H2,… tags

This is the next important item search engines like to take a peek at after your Title tag. Obviously all headers should be enclosed by H1 tags and all sub headers by H2 tags. Ideal situation is to have keywords in your Title tag match those in H1 or H2 tags. H3, H4, and so on are also relevant, but they are not as highly stressed as their lower-numbered brothers.

  • Use keywords in your anchor text

When linking to a different page, use a phrase with your keywords as anchor text for a link. For best results, I highly recommend using keywords that appear in Title and Header tags of the page you are linking to.

  • Separate your keywords from the rest of content

A great technique to keep in mind is to have keywords bolded and/or have them in larger font, and/or even a different color. Perhaps employ all three together. Think of how you can do that with your Header tags.

  • Move more important keywords toward the top of the page

Google loves this one. Since most hotspots of a site are located at the top, this tells search engines that your website is in fact about ideas behind keywords and not spam. Utilizing this technique together with the one right before will be a pretty powerful SEO move on your part.

  • Interlink pages like crazy

Not only will this technique allow Search Engine robots to index your site properly, it will also contribute to your relevance. Don’t forget to keep anchor text and keywords in mind when doing so.

4. Create a robots.txt file

Robots such as Googlebot come to your page and the first thing they look for is a robots.txt file that contains a list of instructions. Robots.txt should be located in the root directory of your site and using it, you can specify which pages you want indexed, which ones you don’t, which robots you want indexing your content, which ones you don’t. The list goes on. In this article I will assume that your goal is to have all bots index all your pages. Open up that Notepad and begin writing some code.

</p> <div style="text-align: center"><i>User-agent: *</p> <p><xmp>Disallow:

This code snippet allows all bots to index your entire site. If you want to take full control of robots.txt, I highly recommend reading a full set of instructions at SearchEngine World.

If you don’t feel like writing a robots.txt file, you can use the following meta tag:

This tells robots to follow the links from this page to get more pages.

5. Create a Sitemap

Sitemaps are great for letting Search Engines know where to look for new pages. You should make sure that every page is reachable via links on your site and you’ll have no troubles getting indexed by robots. Remember that content is food for robots and they are pretty hungry. If you haven’t done so already, you should take advantage of Google’s Sitemaps program [] where you manually tell Googlebot which pages are indexable and how often they are updated, which brings me to my next point

6. Keep your content fresh all the time

You will not get indexed if Search Engines stop visiting you and you will not rank highly if you stop getting indexed. Google and other Search Engines love fresh content. This is part of the reason why certain blogs are outperforming major websites. Keeping content fresh can be as easy as incorporating RSS headlines on your pages or as time consuming as adding a blog to a corporate website.

7. Acquire relevant backlinks

To gain importance, you need important sites to link to you. Of coarse to have that done, you need to be useful enough to get a backlink. In either case, .gov or .edu backlinks are jackpot. Google boosts you up the rankings in a matter of days, depending on how often Googlebot crawls your site. There are a few black-hat SEO techniques to get .gov and .edu backlinks, but I won’t get into them here. This is purely white-hat SEO. If you are interested though, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll do my best to educate you.

Anyway, try to get sites in your niche to link to you. They should be optimized for similar keywords as yourself, and links should have anchor text that contains your site’s keywords.

8. Get older and wiser

Google naturally ranks older pages higher than their younger competitors. Reasoning behind that is obvious I think. There are techniques such as purchasing an older domain name, but I don’t recommend spending your money on that. Google’s current algorithm also monitors the number of times domain name has changed owners and incorporates that into determining rank. My best recommendation is

9. Be patient

When it comes to Google or any other Search Engine, patience is the key. Factors like Sandbox have some part in webmasters’ irritations. It all boils down to determining how trusted your site is. Backlinks play a major role. In this case, you might acquire a single backlink from a well ranked site and fly up the rankings, while tens of backlinks from lower ranked dot-com’s will barely wiggle your toes.

Most importantly remember, it takes time for Google to index the Web. Billions of sites are updated daily and they all need to be crawled. A few extra incoming links can shorten the wait period by a lot, so that should be your goal for the next few months while you patiently wait. Now on to the final point.

10. Don’t cheat the bots

You worked so hard on building content, optimizing your pages, researching keywords, and reading SEO techniques. Don’t go on and waste all of this just by spaming sites with links (comment spam on blogs), over-stuffing content with keywords (please, people are actually reading you!), or hiding text (blending your keywords into the background just for bots sakes). I don’t want to go into all black-hat techniques here, you get the idea. The point is that simple misdemeanors like that can get you banned from Google or any other Search Engine. After spending so much time trying to get in, it would suck to get kicked out, wouldn’t it?