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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. Gary Young China Sourcing September 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Great advise. I never really understood Meta tags and will make sure they are in each page and will plugin-to: “All in one pack SEO” Great post tips, thanks!
    Gary Young China Sourcing recently posted..Links for 2010-09-24 deliciousMy Profile

  2. Linnea September 29, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Gary,

    So glad to be of help. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Richard Goutal September 30, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    Thanks for this overview. I don’t want to change my domain name at this point, but I wonder if using a new domain name with right keywords and forwarded to my old domain name and site would have any SEO value?
    Richard Goutal recently posted..Internet Marketing Leadership Myths 2 Newbie Leaders Can’t Be TrustedMy Profile

  4. Robin van der Merwe October 1, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    Really great post here with lots of SEO nuggets. We use the All in One SEO Pack…and you’re right, it really helps make it easier to get all the necessary SEO info into each post and page.

    Thanks so much for sharing your tips….they’re good ones!

    To your continued success,
    Robin van der Merwe recently posted..Six Ways to Get More Blog CommentsMy Profile

  5. Melodie Kantner October 1, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Hi Linnea,

    These are good tips for SEO. It really helps when you can learn these things for yourself and not pay someone to do it. Several years ago I got suckered into paying 1500.00 for a company to do SEO and link submitting for a new website I had. I did nothing myself to promote that site because I wanted to make sure any success came from their efforts and not my own work. It was basically an expensive test. Looking at the tracker after that year, there were about 250 visitors for the year. The sites I promoted using SEO techniques I learned myself was much more successful.

    I love the “All in one pack SEO.”
    Melodie Kantner recently posted..Are You Thinking About Buying Network Marketing LeadsMy Profile

  6. Linnea October 2, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    Hi Richard,

    You are welcome. I doubt that redirecting from another domain will do much good unless you are up to maintaining the second site as well. While it is an admirable thought, the search engines aren’t terribly fond of sites without content either so while you’d have your keywords in the title in the new site, it would be very hard to rank that one without everything else. I think you simply concede that point and redouble your efforts elsewhere.

  7. Linnea October 2, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    Hi Robin,

    You’re welcome. I’m happy to share and glad you find enjoy the tips.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Linnea October 2, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    Hi Melodie,

    Yikes! That was an expensive test. That’s really a shame not only for you but for that company as well. You obviously won’t be using them again, or referring others to them. Seems like they’d be much better served by doing a good job for folks. I agree that it’s better to learn for yourself early on even if you plan to outsource the work later, you will at least know what to look for.

  9. rebeccahappy October 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    These are great 5 tips. I am grateful to know about the category of internal web structure. I have not read that anywhere and some of the people I learn from on WP always seem to skip that part too.
    rebeccahappy recently posted..Ready For Google MeChris Lang PredictsMy Profile

  10. Nancy Burke Barr, JD October 2, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi linnea!

    When the student is ready, the teacher will appear! I have been talking about studying SEO, but didn’t really know where to start. These are some great places for me to begin! Can’t change the domain name, but CAN change the tagline! The other issues need to be implemented as soon as I finish syndicating! 😉

    I had never even heard of keywords in file names, etc.! That makes so much sense! Thank you!

    Mentor Mama
    Nancy Burke Barr, JD recently posted..“Mentor Mama’s Marvelous HALLOWEEN MIXER!!!”My Profile

  11. Wendy MacKay October 3, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Hi Linnea,
    All great information to know when starting out, and when needing to attract more traffic (which is what blogging is all about, isn’t it?).
    Thanks for sharing, you are aligned with my recent posts and I will be happy to share your post.
    Wendy MacKay recently posted..Best Advice Ever for Online BusinessMy Profile

  12. Dan Johnson/ TSA October 4, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    Great blog post. SEO is an on going affair when trying to keep your site optimized. I have read that just because Google ignores meta tags, some of the less popular search engines still do, so I always had them anyway.

  13. Linnea October 5, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Hi Rebecca,

    Glad you found something new. I do hope it helps you get better results.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Linnea October 5, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    Hi Mentor Mama,

    Glad to be of help. It is really good to understand SEO…even if you decide to outsource the work. Once you have your keywords down, it helps focus your posts etc. It can be so powerful for your site not to mention the opportunity for free traffic and who doesn’t like that? I hope you see some good results.

  15. Linnea October 5, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Hi Wendy,

    It is interesting that SEO seems to remain such a mystery to so many just starting out but really doesn’t need to be. in reality it’s just about implementing practices that make good common sense. Thanks for sharing my post!

  16. Linnea October 5, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your comment. So many focus only on Google since it is the largest however, the merger of Bing and Yahoo is changing that picture somewhat. They are running a very close second and should not be discounted for optimization. and yes, there are many other smaller search engines out there as well. I definitely think it helps to pay attention to all, and it certainly can’t hurt.

  17. Chester Delameter October 5, 2010 at 11:41 am #


    I wish I had known some of this when I first set up my site. I have read a few other posts about this too. I will be doing some changes to my site. Thanks

    Have a Great Day

  18. Yorinda October 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Hi Linnea,

    so much to learn.

    Thank you for shining the light on the SEO issue.

    It seems like there are a few different opinions out there.

    As long as all this fits in with creativity, it is all good.

    Love and Joy
    Yorinda recently posted..Digestion Health and Well BeingMy Profile

  19. Linda Thomas October 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    Hi Linnea,
    Thanks for the review of your “Top 5!” Sometimes we just get going and then it pays to revisit and update from time to time!
    Now I must rush over to your “10 Terrific WP Plugins and Gadgets” post!
    Thanks again for sharing!

  20. Peter Fuller MBA October 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Hey Linnea

    Excellent post on SEO. I used to think that Domain Names were overrated for search results but a couple of my niche sites started to show up in search results, and I did not really start to promote them :)

    Peter Fuller MBA recently posted..Can You Admit When You Make A MistakeMy Profile

  21. Mr. Personal Development Michael Berry October 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Great post Linnea and while I knew most of it, what is important that you pointed out something to me that I did not know. You said “remember to use keywords when naming your images”. That alone is worth it’s weight in gold. Thanks so very much.

    Mr. Personal Development Michael Berry recently posted..Networked BlogsMy Profile

  22. Linnea October 11, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Hi Chester,

    Glad to be of help and wish you well with your site.
    I’ve enjoyed it so far and will be visiting again.

  23. Linnea October 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi Yorinda,

    I’m so with you there…we certainly shouldn’t put it ahead of expressing our creativity to the extent that imposes a negative impact on our writing. At that point, it can make posts seem much too stilted and posts do still need to be written ‘naturally’.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  24. Linnea October 11, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi Linda,

    I too, find it useful to review now and again. It’s very easy to get so busy that we forget (or don’t take the time) to cross our “I’s or dot the “T”s. Please do feel free to browse around and check out anything of interest. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Linnea October 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Thanks, Peter.

    Interesting that you saw results so very quickly by getting a good domain name.
    Good for you! Keep up the great work!

  26. Linnea October 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    So glad you found something of great value! Yes, images are a great way to get a few more keywords in here and there.
    Use it in good health! Thanks for stopping by and for the comment!

  27. Emma October 16, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    Hi Linnea,

    Thank you for the top SEO tips.

    This is my weakest area and I appreciate so much the knowledge I have just gained here.

    I most definitely have to put more effort in to SEO!

    Thanks again,

    Emma :-)
    Emma recently posted..How Far Will You GoMy Profile

  28. Tim Somers October 16, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    Linnea, I’ve studied and studied SEO and you hit the major factors for sure – being consistent and keeping at it makes all the difference in the world.
    Tim Somers recently posted..Multi Level Marketing Business Prospect QualifyingMy Profile

  29. Joe Malinowski October 16, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    And number 6 backlinks! All of the other pieces are imperative, but without a strategy to continue building backlinks and relationships just doing the minimum will leave us dead in the water.

    Thanks for sharing your insights. Great tips!!

    Joe Malinowski recently posted..4 Steps to Enhance Your Business’s Social NetworkingMy Profile

  30. John Gaydon October 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    HI Linnea,

    These are great basic tips for getting good SEO, using on page optimization. Something else to consider is content. If you want google to rank your posts highly, read the first 6 posts that appear on a keyword search for the keyword you wish to rank for and then use some of the phrases in your posts and you will rank better!

    With a little effort, it is surprising how well your articles start to appear in the search engines.
    John Gaydon recently posted..Using A Treasure Map To Achieve Your DreamsMy Profile

  31. Linnea October 19, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    Hi Emma,

    I’m so glad I could be of help. I think you’ll find that it does pay off.
    Best of luck to you with your SEO efforts.

  32. Linnea October 19, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Hi Tim,

    Ah yes, consistency. That does make all the difference, truly.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  33. Linnea October 19, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Hi Joe,

    Right on! You and I are in absolute agreement on that one.
    Number 6 would certainly be building backlinks. Glad you enjoyed the list.

  34. Linnea October 19, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    Hi John,

    That’s a great tip! Just do a little reconnoitering and incorporate the results…as long as it still sounds like natural writing. Thanks so much for sharing this tip. I’m sure that many of my readers will find it very useful.
    Thanks again.

  35. Dr. Erica Goodstone October 19, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Hi Linnea,
    Thanks for your advice. I have had several sites for many years and it is always useful to hear, with fresh ears, about how to optimize them to get more traffic. I will get the SEO All in on pack for my new Healthy Baby Boomers Network web site.

    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted..Does YOUR Face Need Surgery STOP! Read This FirstMy Profile

  36. Lesly October 20, 2010 at 4:33 am #

    Great article! Recently someone was telling me I should change the name of a website I’ve had for over 10 years and has been bringing traffic. After reading your article I think I’ll keep it! I wondered about that!
    Lesly recently posted..Your Amazing Body Series 4 – Stem CellsMy Profile

  37. Linnea October 20, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Hi Erica,

    I find that I have to remind myself as well, now and again. I think you’ll like the SEO All in One Pack. It’s very useful, particularly in reminding us to pay attention. btw – I like your new blog! It’s chock full of good info. Thanks!

  38. Linnea October 20, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Hi Lesly,

    Wow, I would certainly have to think long and hard before changing a name after 10 years especially if it’s been bringing good traffic. Since you really can’t “change the name” but rather need to register a new domain, you’d have the additional challenge of getting your base to move to the new site…and redirecting backlinks etc., etc. Sure sounds like a huge project to me. If your current site (and a good site it is) is performing for you, I’m not sure that I’d mess with a good thing.

  39. Walter October 21, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    When I started my blog I have not given any consideration of SEO, that’s why I’m ignorant about some of the information you have shared here. Gosh, I miss a lot by ignoring these stuff. I hope I’m not too late to implement this. :-)

  40. Linnea October 27, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Hi Walter,
    I think it’s really easy to get totally caught up in the content we really want to share without worrying about SEO but a little reminder now and again can’t hurt anything. It may just help your site rankings!

  41. Linda Thomas October 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi Linnea,
    Thanks for these Top 5 for SEO! It is still a mystery to me how sites get ranked. I know that these 5 are imperative, and I know that longevity helps! I believe I need to hop over to your “10 Terrific WP Plugins & Gadgets” article so I can see what else I may be missing!
    Looking forward to your next post!
    Surround Yourself With Entrepreneurs!
    Linda Thomas recently posted..Way Back in Chicago&8230There Was An EntrepreneurMy Profile

  42. Linnea November 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi Linda,

    So glad you found some good useful info here. Please do feel free to browse and poke around. I’ve come up with a few more plugins that I think are great so will be doing a follow on post to include those soon. Take care and best of luck with your blog.

  43. kirsty January 2, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Choosing the right domain name for your site is important. Choose a domain name that is related to your primary keyword for your niche before buying one. This is help your site bring more traffic.
    kirsty recently posted..Leaving Reviews for Your Own ProductsMy Profile

  44. Linnea January 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi Kirsty,

    I absolutely agree with you regarding the domain name, given the purpose of your site. It can be key to ranking in the search engines for your particular keyword/niche. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  45. Guy Santeramo January 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Hi Linda,

    I just started my blog a few months ago, and I am stumbling forward.

    Even though I understand the importance of keywords, I have totally missed the mark. I am embarrassed to say that I still haven’t written my meta tag description and keywords.

    Great Post.


    Guy Santeramo recently posted..Why Don’t You Just Quit Your MLM Business Now… And Save Yourself All The HeartachesMy Profile

  46. Guy Santeramo January 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm #


    — not Linda :-)

    Guy Santeramo recently posted..Why Don’t You Just Quit Your MLM Business Now… And Save Yourself All The HeartachesMy Profile

  47. Linnea January 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Hi Guy,

    You’re welcome. I’m thrilled to welcome you to the industry. I think you’ll have loads of fun…and I wouldn’t be at all embarrassed. There simply is so much to learn about that it would be amazing if you didn’t overlook a thing or two along the way. That’s the beauty of reading blogs…to either remember something you’ve forgotten about or learn something entirely new. Best of luck to you with your blog.

  48. Linnea January 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    No problem, Guy.
    I totally understand and yes, I accept your apology :)

  49. Dr. Adam Sheck February 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Thanks for these SEO hints. I remember “back in the day” when metatags meant so much. Now, besides picking a solid url, I think that great content is what will get us noticed and high ranking. Though I think that writing posts about celebrities (I haven’t yet, but in the relationship field I certainly could) can boost ranking temporarily 😉
    Take care,
    Dr. Adam Sheck recently posted..3 Tools To Reignite Your Relationship By Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  50. Linnea February 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Hi Adam,

    Great to see you. You are so right, the meta tags were all-important til folks starting over stuffing them. Things just keep progressing I suppose. Yes, I suppose you could write about celebs in your field. That’s a very clever thought. Don’t know why, but somehow I think I”m glad you haven’t gone there :)

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