Saturday, January 30, 2010

End-toEnd SEO Checklist

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Here is the simplistic and summarized process you need to undertake to achieve a top ranking on Google. Print this page out where you can refer to it.

1. Determine the best keyword phrases for your site. Use KeywordDiscovery or WordTracker to come up with a list of at least 100 2 to 4-word phrases for your site.

2. Create content-rich pages. It’s better to have 20 short pages than 5 long pages on your site, all else being equal. Each page should contain at least 200 words and discuss one topic only. Optimize for at most two keyword phrases per page.

3. Optimize each page for it’s best keyword phrases:
• Include keywords in the of each page. This is a must.
• Include keywords in the

headings for each page.
• Include keywords in the first paragraph of each page.
• Include keywords in the text of links. Never use “Click here”.
• Read Appendix A - Website Do’s and Don’ts.

4. Link to each page from your sitemap page, and from each page back to your home page. Also link between pages that discuss the same topic.

5. Submit your site to search directories. Submit your site to the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), Yahoo Directory, GoGuides, and other general and industry-specific directories. Stagger your submissions over time, don’t submit them all at once.

6. Setup and maintain a link-building & exchange campaign:
• Create a “Related Links” page on your site for exchanging links.
• Create “Link to Us” code can be copied by your link partners.
• Determine the best sites to exchange links with. This is important.
• Read Appendix B - Linking Do’s and Don’ts”
• Submit articles, write online press releases and post in blogs and forums.
• Actively manage your link campaign. Always strive to get more links!

7. Regularly monitor your progress and modify your efforts:
• Monitor your site traffic often – it contains a wealth of information.
• Check to see that all new pages are indexed in Google.
• Check your site’s ranking on your chosen keywords once a month.
• Regularly check your incoming links as part of your link campaign.


Appendix A - Website Do’s and Don’ts

This is a general list of SEO do’s and don’ts for your website. Adhering to this list will not only improve optimization of your site, but will make it easier on visitors in terms of faster pages and better navigation.

DO

• Do create relevant, timely, and useful content on your site – particularly for your home page. This may be obvious, but often is overlooked.

• Do update your content frequently – particularly your home page. Sites that frequently update their content get visited by Google more often. This also gives your visitors a reason to return to your site regularly.

• Do create lots of relevant content and pages on your site. It is better to have 50 short pages than to have 10 long pages, all else being equal. It's also easier to optimize a page tightly focused on a single keyword. Make sure each page contains a minimum of 200 words of content.

• Do use your keywords in the page title, headings, first paragraph, and in link text. These are the main places that Google looks – the page title is extra important.

• Do keep your page size small. Both your customers and Google like smaller pages. They download (and are crawled) faster and are easier to read. For every second it takes your page to load, you lose 10% of your visitors.

• Do create unique titles and META descriptions for each page. Unique titles are a must. Don’t skimp on this.

• Do use a shallow site structure. If you can manage it, keep all your web pages in the same folder on your server as your home page.

• Do create a “Related Links” page for adding links to other sites as part of your link exchange campaign. Try to add some content on this page too.

• Do put JavaScript code in a separate .js file and link to it. This makes pages load (and get crawled) faster.

• Do create a stylesheet .css file and link to it from your pages. This makes pages load (and get crawled) faster.

DON’T

• Don’t use page redirects on your site. Google has been known to penalize sites that use fast redirects.

• Don’t use "doorway pages" hosted on free servers, or create one-page “mini-sites” as such pages usually have very low PageRank. Spend time adding new content to your main site instead.

• Don’t repeat your keyword over and over again throughout a page, otherwise Google may consider it as spam - as might other search engines.

• Don’t use hidden text on your site, such as using white text on a white background. Search engines consider this as spam.

• Don’t use tiny text with extremely small font sizes. Search engines may consider this as spam.

• Don’t use hidden image links on your site. Hidden image links are 1-by-1 pixel sized images inside a link tag.

• Don’t use frames. Although Google can crawl framed sites, they are problematic in other areas. Most sites don’t use frames.

• Don’t use elaborate image maps, gratuitous animations, or Flash on your site if possible - especially on your home page. Google needs to see actual textual content on your pages!

Appendix B - Linking Do’s and Don’ts

DO

• Do submit your site to the Open Directory Project (ODP or DMOZ). A listing in the ODP is considered golden as the ODP feeds so many other directories.

• Do exchange links all sites that offer similar or complementary services to yours, with specialized directories, and with industry associations.

• Do include a link to your site in your “signature” line when you post in forums, blogs, or newsgroups. This also applies when submitting articles or sending out newsletters.

• Do link to each page on your site from your home page or sitemap page and back again. This will help funnel PageRank to your most important pages.

• Do include inline links on your site. Inline links appear in the body of a paragraph rather than in a navigation menu. Google likes the neighboring text that surrounds inline links.

• Do use simple A HREF format links rather than JavaScript to generate the link. Google may have a harder time deciphering your link otherwise.

• Do actively monitor who links to you. You need to track this on a regular basis to make sure your link is added on sites you have agreed to trade links with.

DON’T

• Don’t use “click here” as the text for your links. Otherwise, Google may decide your page is about “click here.”

• Don’t exchange links with link farms, link free-for-alls (FFAs), or other sites that are obvious spam.

• Don’t exchange links with unrelated sites simply to boost the number of links. Your customers won’t be on these sites and it won’t help with Google.

• Don’t have your Links page automatically generated by a program. Google has been known to penalize sites that generate Links pages using “cookie-cutter” template pages.


Appendix C – Best Tools & Resources

Rather than list a mind-numbing number of different resources simply to impress you, this list represents the best of the best:

Best Software Tools


A. Keyword Research & Analysis Tools

Keyword Discovery - – Indispensable online software tool for researching keywords. This tool from Trellian contains 12 months of data from 180 different search engines and has a Seasonal Trend graph for each keyword.
http://www.keyworddiscovery.com

WordTracker – Another outstanding keyword research tool. A great complement to Keyword Discovery. I use both, they each have their unique strengths.
http://www.wordtracker.com

B. Link Analysis & Management Tools

SEO Elite - Outstanding link analysis and link-building software that does the job of OptiLink and Arelis combined, truly top-notch.
http://www.seoelite.com

Arelis – Great software for finding and managing reciprocal link partners. Complement to SEO Elite – I still use this as it has unique features.
http://www.axandra.com


C. Website Ranking Tools

WebPosition Gold – Full-featured software for checking website ranking. The gold standard and used by SEO professionals to produce ranking reports.
http://www.webposition.com

Digital Point – A good free ranking tool, but not as full-featured as WebPosition Gold. Requires you to obtain a Google Web API Service key first.
http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/keywords

D. Other Tools

MarketLeap – Great free tool for determining link popularity, how many of your pages are actually indexed, and if your site is in the top 30.
http://www.marketleap.com/services/freetools/default.htm

Google Toolbar – Toolbar used for measuring “public” PageRank (PR).
http://toolbar.google.com


Best Books & e-Books

The Unfair Advantage – Planet Ocean
Great e-book that discusses all things SEO. You also get a monthly newsletter “Search Engine News” for 12 months which contains a link for the updated e-book.
http://www.searchenginehelp.com

Search Engine Marketing Kit – Dan Thies
Excellent guide to SEO and PPC. Includes huge 3-ring binder and CD.
http://www.sherpastore.com/Search-Engine-Marketing-How-To-Kit.html

SEO Book – Aaron Wall
Superb e-book on SEO from Aaron Wall that is actually updated daily. Also runs a very popular blog. http://www.seobook.com

Small Business Guide to Search Engine Marketing – Jennifer Laycock
Comprehensive SEO and marketing e-book for the small business owner.
http://www.searchengineguide.com/ebooks

The AdWords Edge – Dan Sisson
Don’t pin your business model just on Google SEO rankings. Discusses how to setup a cheap, targeted Google AdWords campaign to drive traffic.
http://www.adwordsedge.com

Desperate Websites – Dan Sisson
Great book that discusses how to convert visitors to your site into customers. Discusses website usability, copywriting techniques, ROI calculation and more.
http://www.desperatewebsites.com

Other Google Information Sources
Google Information for Webmasters – Important information straight from the horse’s mouth. The information here is MUST reading.
www.google.com/webmasters/index.html

US Patent Office – "Historical Retrieval Based on Historical Data" – Important Google patent paper that discusses who it will rank pages in the future.
http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=20050071741&OS=20050071741&RS=20050071741.


Google SEO Glossary

Here is a list of terms that were either used in this book, or represent terms in the Internet marketing industry that you may encounter.

Aging delay. Term describing a set of filters applied to new websites whereby the site cannot rank well (or at all) for any competitive keywords for 6 – 24 months. Also called the Sandbox.

Algo, Algorithm. A specific mathematical process for achieving a desired result. Google uses a proprietary algorithm that contains over 100 different criteria to rank Web sites in a specific order based on a specific search request.

Algorithmic listing. Any search engine listing that is on the “free” or unpaid section of a search results page. These listings are obtained using SEO techniques without the use of paid advertising. Also called organic, natural or editorial listing.

Anchor text. The clickable portion of text displayed (usually as blue, underlined text) for a link. Also known as link text.

Authority. Site with a high number of incoming links and a relatively low number of outgoing links. Opposite of hub.

Backlinks, backward links. Links from other sites that point to your site. Also known as inbound or incoming links.

Algo, Algorithm. A specific mathematical process for achieving a desired result. Google uses a proprietary algorithm that contains over 100 different criteria to rank Web sites in a specific order based on a specific search request.

Algorithmic listing. Any search engine listing that is on the “free” or unpaid section of a search results page. These listings are obtained using SEO techniques without the use of paid advertising. Also called organic, natural or editorial listing.

Anchor text. The clickable portion of text displayed (usually as blue, underlined text) for a link. Also known as link text.

Authority. Site with a high number of incoming links and a relatively low number of outgoing links. Opposite of hub.

Backlinks, backward links. Links from other sites that point to your site. Also known as inbound or incoming links.

CSS. See Cascading Style Sheet.

Directory. As opposed to search engines, search directories use humans to review and place websites in alphabetical order under defined categories and sub-categories. The best-known directories are Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project (ODP).

DMOZ. Another term for the Open Directory Project.

Editorial listing. Any search engine listing that is on the “free” or unpaid section of a search results page. These listings are obtained using SEO techniques without the use of paid advertising. Also called organic, algorithmic or natural listing.

Everflux. Term used for the constantly changing search results that occur regularly.

External links. Links located on websites other than your own.

Googlebot. The name given to the main Google spider that crawls sites.

Google AdWords™. Google’s Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising program, whereby your site is listed in the right-hand side of Google search result pages in a small box. This type of advertising involves an auction where you bid, along with your competitors, for the cost per click for a specific keyword.

Google bombing. Term used to describe the process of artificially altering the ranking of a page by the use of links. It requires a concerted group effort from many different site owners who all agree to use the exact same link text in links that point to the same site. The linked-to site may not even contain the text used anywhere on the page.

Google dance. Older term designating the time period where Google updates their index, which results in site rankings that jump around, sometimes minute by minute. This is caused by Google running PageRank calculations for all pages repeatedly until the values reach a steady-state.

Google Directory™. The Google Directory lists those websites that are in the Open Project Directory (ODP), then ranks them according to PageRank alone.

Google Toolbar™. A downloadable program that attaches to your browser, allowing you to see a public approximation for the PageRank (PR) value of a page, along with the external sites that link to that page.

Hub. Site with a high number of outgoing links and a relatively low number of incoming links. Opposite of authority.

Inbound, incoming links. Links that reside on another website that point to your website. Also known as backlinks or backward links. The opposite of inbound links are outbound links.

Index. Term used to denote the database that stores information about every web page for every website that a search engine has crawled (visited). If your website is included in the Google database (index), it is said to be indexed.

Index page. Another name for a home page. Many home pages are named index.html so that Web servers will display this page by default.

Internal links. Links that are located on pages within the same website. As opposed to external links, which are links that are located on a different website.
Inline links. Links that are part of a sentence in a paragraph on a page, rather than simply listed in a menu bar or a links page without any surrounded text.

IYP. Internet Yellow Page directories such as Verizon Superpages, SMARTPages and other local-based directories like Google Local and Yahoo Local.

KD. See Keyword density.

Keyword phrase. General term used to define a specific word phrase that best describes the main topic of a web page. Synonymous with a search phrase that a visitor enters into a search engine to find specific information.

Keyword. General term used to define the main topic of a page. Synonymous with search term. A group of keywords used together in a phrase is called a keyword phrase. Google looks for keywords on a page that match searched-for terms.

Keyword density. The number of times a keyword is used on a web page divided by the total number of words on the page. Expressed as a percentage.

Keyword prominence. How close to the beginning or top of a web page that a keyword is found.

Keyword proximity. How close together the individual words that make up a keyword phrase are to one another, and in what order.

Keyword weight. Also known as keyword density.

Landing page. Generally speaking, the web page that a person reaches when clicking on a search engine listing or ad. This may be any page of the site. For paid advertising, it is common to have multiple ads, each one linking to a specific landing page on the site that is targeted specifically for that ad.

Latent Semantic Indexing. A technology used by Google that factors in synonyms and related keyword phrases when ranking a page for a specific keyword. A page could rank well for a related keyword that may not even appear on the page.

Link quality. A general term referring to link reputation and link strength. Links with high quality are those where the PageRank of the linking page is high, and where your keywords are used in the link text and in the page title that the link is.

Link popularity. A term referring to the number of incoming links to your site.

Link reputation. A term referring to how closely link text matches the title of the page the link is on and, more importantly, the text on the page that the link points to.

Link strength. Dependent on the PageRank of the linking page as well as the number of other links on the page. Also referred to as link voting power.

Link text. The clickable portion of text displayed (usually as blue, underlined text) for a link. Also known as anchor text.

LocalRank. A variation of basic PageRank whereby links from sites that share the same Class C IP address block are weighed less (are worth less) than links from a variety of different IP addresses (different servers owned by different businesses).

LSI. See Latent Semantic Indexing.

META tags. HTML tags located in the section of a web page that specify information that is viewable only to a search engine. The two most commonly-used META tags are the “Keywords” META tag and the “Description” META tag. Most search engines ignore META tags today due to their abuse in the past – however Google and others still use the contents of the Description META tag when listing web pages. In addition, the “Robots” META tag can be used to prevent search engines from indexing a web page.

Natural listing. Any search engine listing that is on the “free” or unpaid section of a search results page. These listings are obtained using SEO techniques without the use of paid advertising. Also called organic, algorithmic or editorial listing.

Off-page factors. Those elements of a website that are not located on your website (such as incoming links). Off-page factors are largely out of your control.

On-page factors. Those elements of a website that are located on your website (such as keywords). You are in control of on-page factors.

ODP. See Open Directory Project. Also known as DMOZ.

Organic listing. Any search engine listing that is on the “free” or unpaid section of a search results page. These listings are obtained using SEO techniques without the use of paid advertising. Also called algorithmic, editorial or natural listing.

Orphan pages. Pages with an incoming link but without any outgoing links.

Outbound, Outgoing links. Links on your website that point to other websites. Opposite of inbound or incoming links.

Paid placement. Similar to pay-per-click. See below.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC). A paid advertising mechanism whereby you bid to have your site listed in a specific position on a search engine. You bid, along with your competitors, for the cost per click of a specific keyword. Every time a visitor clicks on your listing (ad), you pay the PPC company the bid price. Google AdWords is the name of the PPC program that Google offers.

PPC. See Pay-Per-Click.

PR. See PageRank.

Page. Synonymous with web page. The actual HTML file and associated graphics that are displayed in a browser.

PageRank™. Google’s patented system for measuring page importance. PageRank analyzes the quantity and quality of links that point to a web page. The more high-quality links that point to your web page from other sites, the higher your PageRank.

Page importance. Synonymous with PageRank.

Page relevance. How closely keywords on your page match a search request.

Page reputation: what other sites “say” about your site. Google looks to see if your keywords are used in the link text, page title, and in the link text of other links on the page that links to your site.

Page topic. What your page is about. Google looks at keywords on your page to determine the page topic.

Popularity. A general term referring to how “important” your web site is in terms of how many external links point to it.

Rank, ranking: a website’s actual placement or position on a search engine results page for a certain search term or phrase. It is meaningless to speak of website rank without specifying what search words or phrase you are ranked for. Sometimes confused with PageRank – the two are totally separate concepts.

Robot. The software program which a search engine runs to read and analyze your site. See also spider. Google robots is called Googlebot.

ROI. Return On Investment. The amount of revenue generated from a specific marketing expense, expressed as a percentage.

Sandbox. Term describing a set of filters applied to new websites whereby the site cannot rank well (or at all) for any competitive keywords for 6 – 24 months. Also called the aging delay.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM). A general term that encompasses both paid and “free” forms of advertising a website using search engines. SEO is one type of SEM. The other major type of SEM is Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A general term used to describe specific techniques that can be used on websites in order to rank them favorably with search engine.

Search Engine Positioning (SEP). A term used interchangeably with SEO. However, since search engine optimizers do not actually "position" pages within the search engines, this is. SEP more closely describes Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, since that is the only way a site can be positioned in a search engine.

Search Term. The word or words a person enters into a search engine's search box. Also synonymous with keyword or query term.

SE. Acronym for search engine.

SEM. See Search Engine Marketing.

SEMPO. Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization. A non-profit group whose focus is increase the awareness of and educate people on the value of search engine marketing.

SEO. See Search Engine Optimization.

SEP. See Search Engine Positioning.

SERP. Search Engine Results Page. The page or pages that a search engine displays after a search query for a certain search term or phrase.

Server log. The data file that a Web server produces (usually daily) that lists website traffic activity by domain. Web statistics programs use the server log file to produce graphic reports. See statistics.

Spider. The software program, also known as a robot, which a search engine runs to read through and analyze your site. Google’s spiders is called Googlebot.

Statistics, stats. The data associated with visitor traffic to your site over time.

Theme. The overall subject area, topic, or category of a web site.

Topic-Sensitive PageRank. A variation of basic PageRank whereby a web page is assigned different PageRank scores for each different topic a page covers.

Tracking URL. Typically used in paid ads, such as Google AdWords, where unique code is added to the end of a link in order to track visitors who click on that ad. Tracking URLs allow you to measure the popularity of an ad.

TrustRank. A variation of basic PageRank whereby links from site that are “trusted” or “white-listed” by Google carry more weight (are more valued) than other links.

Vote, voting. When one website links to another website, it “casts a vote” for the other website. The strength or weight of this “vote” depends on the PageRank of the page and the number of other links on the page.

Yahoo. A popular search directory (as opposed to a search engine). All Web sites listed on Yahoo are first reviewed by a human editor.

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