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Google, Bing Yahoo Search Engine Optimization Checklist - Part Three

Friday, February 03, 2012

This is the third and last installment in this series. Last post we looked at the various things to consider when working with on page SEO.

This time we will look at the importance of your content and the importance of internal and external links.

Content

Keyword matching

What are your potential visitors searching for? Many people think they know the keywords people are using to search for a particular product or service but are often surprised when they discover the words that are actually being used in search queries.

There are some great tools for researching search behavior on the Internet, some are free and some you need to pay for. One of the free ones you should definitely know about is Google's AdWords Keyword Tool. Take it for a spin and see what you find. 

Competitors, especially high ranking competitors are also a great source of keywords. Studying the copy they use can be very enlightening, especially when you compare it to the keywords they are targeting. A good way to do this is using an SEO tool bar like the free one available at SEOBook. It has a feature called SEO Xray that gives you a summary panel of several SEO related website parameters. From the main panel you can display a full page of keywords complete with count and density analysis. Pretty cool.

The bottom line? First and foremost, make sure your copy reads well for human beings. Then make sure you have included the keywords you are targeting in your headings, page titles etc.

Why Rich Media won't make you rich

What does a search engine know about an image? Not much. There's the <alt> tag of course, but if you have information for your customer locked inside a JPEG image that is never a great idea.

The same goes for Flash and other so-called Rich Media technologies. They have their place but when it comes to SEO you'll need to be very careful about the content you include.

There are many designers who routinely use images for Headings and other typographical tasks. It makes for a stylish visual presentation but it can kill your optimization if you don't take the necessary steps to include readable text in the HTML markup and use CSS to display the image.

Make a plan and plan to work

SEO ain't easy. People advertising a quick and easy solution are simply selling something. 

SEO takes knowledge, skill, patience and time. Lots and lots of time.

New content is vitally important. It helps crawlers sift the wheat from the chaff. Web sites with little or no change over extended periods of time will atrophy and fall off the radar.

Set a schedule and keep it. Constantly producing fresh content is one of the best ways to improve your ranking over time.

Roll you own

Copying content from other websites may seem like an easy way to generate content quickly but it's generally a bad idea. Crawlers read fast and they are on the look out for duplicate website content. If you do use content from other sources make sure that you attribute it to the source and cite the author, just like you would with any other written publication medium.

Move it (properly) or lose it!

If you move things around on your site make sure that you employ 301 redirects to inform crawlers about the change. Using a 301 status code is the best method to let the search engine know that the information has moved to a new, permanent home.

If you delete a page you should use a 404 error page. This can help search engines do some house cleaning and get rid of the invalid database entry.

Links

Outgoing links

Many people are obsessed with getting in-bound links to their site to boost their page ranking. So why bother with outgoing links? There are several reasons:

  • It adds value for your visitor by connecting your information with the rest of the web
  • Linking to others makes them aware of you. You might just get an in-bound link in return
  • It may boost your page rank! Linking to recognized authorities from your site may just add some lustre to your content.
  • Building the web earns you the respect of those who are building the web. Don't try to be an island. By sharing the link love you will participate in the miracle that is the World Wide Web.

Internal links

As stated by Google on their Webmaster Tools site: "The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page. If an important page does not appear in this list, or if a less important page has a relatively large number of internal links, you should consider reviewing your internal link structure."

Couldn't of said it better myself. Next.

In-bound links

Finally, the coveted in-bound link. Every one wants them. Attempts to generate them by the thousands to artificially boost search ranking using so-called Black Hat techniques are the stuff of legend. 

While these links are certainly an important part of the SEO package, it's important to put their usefulness in context and keep their importance in perspective.

Many factors influence present-day crawlers and they are becoming more sophisticated day by day. All of the in-bound links in the world will not make up for shoddy SEO practices in the other areas we have touched on. In fact, by doing the grunt work of on-page SEO and putting in the time doing the there things outlined in this article a magical thing happens: you create content that is relevant, interesting and appealing to other people on the Internet and in-bound linking start to happen.

Another wat to generate links is to add your site to business and other online directories. 

Link building is a huge topic all by itself so we'll have to leave a more detailed treatment for a future series of posts.

Please feel free to comment and add your thoughts. We'd love to hear from you.

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