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Top 5 for SEO

SEOI’m often asked what are the first 5 things to do for improving a site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and although I find it difficult to narrow to just 5, and I prefer to do this for the site in question, I thought it might be helpful to write up a generic “Top 5 for SEO”.

First consideration should be given to “on-page” optimization (as opposed to “off-page”) without which most of our efforts will likely fail.  My “Top 5 for SEO” includes;

  • Domain name
  • Site Structure
  • Meta tags
  • Header
  • Content

Domain name If your site already exists (has for some time), and has traffic this may not be an element that you can change however, if you are just starting out with a new site, it is advisable to select a name that contains a primary keyword for your niche.  Domain age does count as well so if you do have an ‘aged’ site, you’ll want to think twice before changing the name.

There are of course, examples we all know (think Google, Yahoo, Zappo’s or Amazon) that have succeeded without having done this however, they have millions to spend on marketing.  Most small businesses or start ups would be well advised to choose a domain name that contains a primary keyword for their niche.

Site structure Site structure is an element that most folks don’t think about since it isn’t visible to visitors however, it is visible to the spiders crawling the net and therefore should not be overlooked.  Directory, folder and filenames are prime opportunities for keyword use that will increase your site’s validity to spiders.  If blogging, you’ll want to set up categories that reflect your keywords where/when possible.

Also pay attention to any coding errors and/or broken links in order to make it easy for the spiders to crawl your site.

Meta tags Years ago, the ‘keywords’ meta tag was seen to be the most important of the page tags until too many people tried gaming Google and undertook the practice of ‘keyword stuffing’.  Google got wise to the practice and this no longer works.  Today, many webmasters will put just a few keywords in that tag and leave the world to guess at what their real ‘money words’ might be.

It is more important today to ensure that your title and description meta tags contain keywords and that they are unique for each page on your site.  This may well be one of the easiest elements to forget but if you use a WP plugin for SEO (All in One Pack for SEO for example), it will help you remember your meta tags.

Header If possible, include your primary keyword in your header.  If your domain name does not have a keyword, you might consider using a tagline.  It is important to note that spiders don’t read graphics so you’ll need to include keywords in your image ‘alt text’ in order to make it count.

Content Last but certainly not least, is the all essential content.  Not only is it important to provide valuable content for your readers, but for the spiders as well.  Where possible, try to include keywords in your post title (h1 tag), content, images and links.

I say ‘where possible’ because it is essential that you *not* be tempted to stuff keywords but rather maintain a normal writing style.  Some SEO practitioners believe that including a keyword 3 times in the first paragraph is essential to ranking.  Others prescribe to a percentage of overall use methodology.  Both are worthy of testing as long as you maintain a ‘normal’ style of writing.

Easily forgotten and often ignored are images and links.  Be sure to include keywords in the ‘alt text’ tag of your images and in the anchor text of your links.  Finally, remember to use keywords when naming your images.  Images are filenames too, and will count towards optimizing your site.

That’s it.  You now have my “Top 5 for SEO” and I hope you find it helpful.  There is no time like the present to review your site and see how you stack up.  Are you providing all that you can in order to rank higher in the search engines?  Please share your comments below.

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68 Responses to Top 5 for SEO

  1. Dan Johnson March 1, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Great tips on seo. I also use seo processor to check my articles as well. It does a great job of reminding you of what’s missing before you hit “publish”.

  2. Linnea March 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Hi Dan,
    Great to see you again. Thanks for the kind words. I do use an seo processor on one of my blogs however, I’ve found that after a while, the habits become so ingrained that it isn’t needed nearly so much but you are right, it does serve as a great reminder of bases to cover before publishing. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Kevin Martineau March 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Hi Linnea:

    Very informative post! These are things that I have been trying to implement and it is always good to get a new and different perspective.

    Thanks!
    Kevin
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..7 dangers of not having goalsMy Profile

  4. Linnea March 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi Kevin,

    I’m happy to have offered a different perspective for you. Isn’t it amazing how much there is do learn and do when you are new to blogging? Have no fear however, all will come in due time. Keep up the great work!

  5. Cori Hughes May 9, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Linnea-
    Thanks for the great tips. I never thought of some of those things. I never thought about the header with keywords or your site structure before. I am definitely going to go and check those two things now and redo what I need to. Thanks again. This is my first time to your site and I really like it!
    Cori
    Cori Hughes recently posted..Please Don’t Tag Me In Your Facebook VideosMy Profile

  6. Linnea May 10, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Hi Cori,

    I’m glad to be of help and think you’ll see positive results by remembering your keywords. That really can be more challenging than one might think when planning content however, the payoff can be huge. The plugins can really help to jog your memory with regard to the content and perhaps a checklist would help with structure etc.

  7. Dereck May 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Linnea…

    Yep! You’d be amazed at how powerful those 5 steps are in SEO, but more importantly, what can really happen when you have those set correctly!

    Founding the functionality of my personal site/blog on these principles has landed me in the top 30K websites in all of the United States!

    Crazy when you think about it, SEO really isn’t as difficult to understand once you set a habit in your posting duties.

    Thank again, I know a whole grip load of people will find this to be useful and even more so, put it to good use!

    Awesome!

    -Dereck
    Dereck recently posted..NouVara Review – The HD 10 High Definition Skincare OpportunityMy Profile

  8. Linnea June 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Dereck,

    Thanks so much for the great success story and congratulations on your results! Isn’t it great when a plan comes together?! Building SEO into your habits isn’t as tough as some seem to think and you’ve definitely proven its value. It certainly is a worthwhile pursuit. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us.

  9. Andy Nathan June 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    It is amazing how much a little content does wonderss for your business.
    Andy Nathan recently posted..Utilizing Facebook and Twitter for Online MarketingMy Profile

  10. Linnea June 29, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Hi Andy,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. A little well thought out content goes a loooong way.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Jeffrey Sooey July 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Great SEO Tips. Could not have explained this better myself. Great post, and great tips to use. Often times these tips seem sooo simple, but they are all to often not adhered to.

    Jeffrey
    Jeffrey Sooey recently posted..So just who the hell is YOUR life coach?My Profile

  12. Linnea July 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Welcome! I agree that although they sound so simple, it seems so many people either ignore or overlook them. People do seem to think that SEO is so complicated that they’d rather not tend to it. Perhaps this is part of the reason however, if just looked at step by step, it isn’t terribly complicated at all. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Loren July 24, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    Hi Linnea,

    Another great post! You’ve listed really important strategies for practising good search engine optimization. The importance of choosing the right domain name with a relevant , specific keyword is vital to getting noticed by the search engines. Site structure helps to point spiders to our site and keywords in our titles, descriptions and headers as well as dispersed properly throughout our content really helps improve our rankings.Adding webinars and video to our sites will also aid in gaining higher rankings. Your “Top 5 for SEO” is very helpful. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    Loren recently posted..Why SEOMy Profile

  14. Linnea August 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Hi Loren,

    AH my fellow SEO-er, I thank you for the kind words. Perhaps between the two of us, we can persuade many others that SEO is not so bad but rather that it is in fact, extremely helpful and fairly easy to do. Thanks for stopping by and thank you for your feedback.

  15. Joyce Penner August 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    All of us SEO stuff is starting to make a lot of sense and it’s because people like yourself are willing to repeat the same information over and over again until we get it !

    Thank you for that.
    Joyce
    Joyce Penner recently posted..Can you help someone today? Some deserve it.My Profile

  16. Linnea August 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Hi Joyce,

    I’m not exactly sure why it seems to be one of those “gnarly” topics but it sure seems to be. Perhaps because of the language involved (meta tags, algorithms etc. ) it sounds as though it is going to be highly technical or just very “dry” and non-sexy to the newcomers. I’m glad to hear you are getting it as it will serve you well …and you are welcome.

  17. Dewane Mutunga August 6, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    These are sound tips for newbies to SEO. Another important tips is to find the “right” keywords to rank for. When I say the “right” keywords I’m referring to those with low competition, roughly 10,000 global searches or less. By using low competition keywords, you increase the chances of you ranking on the first page of google when people search these terms.

    Great Tips!
    Dewane Mutunga recently posted..How To Create Offers That SellMy Profile

  18. Linnea August 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    Hi Dewane,

    Excellent point. Keyword choice is absolutely key. It wouldn’t do much good to build a site and strategy around the wrong keywords…the would be a great waste of time. Thanks you for chiming in and adding that.

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