On-Site SEO Checklist

Its critical in 2011 to understand the importance of both incoming link valuation & metrics in addition to the value of your current written on page content and XHTML elements. Many pro level SEO and Search Marketing pro’s will not always agree on which factors matter most, you need to look at your own site and market to best understand what is working and whats not. The fact is each market of the web has potentially different ranking factors which are often determined by the level of current and projected competition within that vertical.

Regardless of whats being talked about in your favorite forum, you will need to go through a set of trial and error on your own domain to determine whats good for your domains keyword rankings and whats not. Sticking to the guidelines issued by the major search engines will help you deal with common algo updates that can wreak havoc on sites that utilize black hat strategies, often getting them banned from the index altogether.

On Page SEO Ranking Elements Checklist for Beginners

On Page Content Style Functions Vs External CSS Files

CSS is your friend when it comes to the presentation of your html content and seo, avoid inline styling like the plague. Avoid using JavaScript & images for drop down menus; make your navigation as simple as possible. If you have a web developer that is still stuck in the dark ages make sure any scripting you use is hosted in an external file, it absolutely should not be inline within your HTML.

Meta Description Tag

Currently the meta tags will not be helpful for any type of rankings, and the keyword meta tag is completely useless, but the description tag will be used for the text site summary read by browsers, which is the key to quality CTR from the SERPS to your site. The most important thing to keep in mind is that stuffing keywords into any meta tag will be viewed as a negative, and will damage ranking valuations. Never utilize a keyword that has no relevance to your page, again while these tags wont help you rank, they will hurt if you use them the wrong way.

If your wondering why they don’t help with rankings any longer the answer if simple, people abused the feature and Google modified their ranking algorithim. Now with all of that said there are perhaps other low tier search engines that may still utilize the tags for everything from discovery to rankings, just understand that Google, Yahoo and Bing do not.

Heading XHTML Tag

Using keywords in your H1 tags can be beneficial. You can use H2 and H3 tags for keywords. These tags allow search engines to get more from your site. Using the tags in an expected order such as H1, H2, H3, etc is what will benefit your site the most. To wrap up proper use of these tags will help your sites seo value, but remember the opposite is also true.

Page Load Times and Content Compression

Countless site and WCMS systems use a compression format known as GZIP as an effective method of compression the size of your pages content, which will often help boost your sites load speed, this is obviously of benefit to both the search engines and your human visitors. The way this often helps your page load faster is with a reduced number of server calls for each element on your webpage. It should be of no surprise that faster loading pages and therefore sites will keep both the search engine and human visitors happy.

KEI in Modern Rankings

Keyword density is an old way of evaluating content that has less and less value today. Common sense should prevail here, if your still stuffing everything including the kitchen sink into your content you are running an uphill battle with the engines that you will lose. Make sure you don’t overdo placement of targeted keywords. The search engines have never made public the rules for keyword usage but its common knowledge in SEO circles that two percent should be the absolute maximum, and that would be for a larger written piece of content.

HTML Alt Image Tags

Your image can’t be read by search engine bots just yet so you need to tell them what this image is all about. The proper usage of the img alt keyword tag can be helpful for universal rankings and of course image search verticals, just don’t over do it and make sure your text actually describes whats on screen or your looking for a serious headache. As stated, the img alt tag is no silver bullet for rankings, but it needs to be there for accessibility for those visually impaired, don’t stuff keywords and you should be fine.

Fresh Content Creation and Uploading To Your Web Server

You need to be adding fresh content your website on a frequent basis to help build domain strength and authority. Bots are always crawling the web, they have an index of every single time your site has been crawled, having a site with content that never updates is not going to do a lot to help your potential keyword rankings and traffic levels. Frequent content publishing to your website or blog is not required to ensure bots come back to your site, but it ensures they value your site as providing new quality content, which is a big part of the ranking equation. Write your content for readers and stick to a posting schedule if possible. You may come across spammy methods of auto content creation such as plug-ins, tools or even services that do nothing more than steal content from other sites and then try and publish it on yours, this trick is of zero value to your site or your sites visitors.

Old Content 301 Linking Value

When developing your domain structure you are able to use either “yourdomain.com” or “www.yourdomain.com”. Several people within the industry feel strongly that “yourdomain.com”  Because they feel it works better for ranking purposes than “www.yourdomain.com”.  I personally always use the www, register it within Webmaster Tools and ensure that either a cano or 301 is in place to handle the other.

Rel No Follow Tags For Outbound Links

Linking to your own content should not require a no=follow meta tag, previous methods of utilizing the tag for page rank funneling has not worked for several years therefore its sole purpose is to safe guard your sites trust when linking out to unknown content. It’s usually a good idea to always utilize the no follow tag when linking out to content that’s trust and value factors are unknown. When linking out to another site or third party sites that are trusted and relevant there tends to be very little risk of incurring any kind of penalty or issue. But if you link to spam-link-farms from your site then sure it will hurt your site.

SiteMap in XML

If you’re using WordPress, Drupal or Joomla then you have a lot of plug-ins for generating xml sitemaps. Other content management platforms have their own ways of adding sitemaps. If your using a simple static HTML site, you are able to quickly create a XML sitemap and submit it to the engines or use one of countless sites that can do it for you. Many CMS platforms such as WordPress will auto build your sitemap when any content is added and automatically ping the search engine spiders to let them know about the new content whens it been published.

Robots.txt

The advent of the Robots.txt file allows you to control what content within your website is both indexed and crawled by the search engines, but keep in mind if you make a mistake with this file you could block the search engines from crawling your entire site, which would essentially block your site from the search engines.

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