I thought it would be good to revisit some of the best practices for optimizing a website for ranking high in the search engines. These are practices that have been foundational and supported by Google.
- Crawlable website – If Google can’t see your website pages and crawl them, they can’t rank them. Make sure all the pages you want Google to see are able to be crawled. Google Webmaster Tools have features that allow you to see how many pages are being crawled. You can also do a search for “site:yourdomain.com” and see what Google is seeing.
- Use of targeted keywords on your page – Use your targeted keywords naturally which you want to rank for throughout the page (At least 4 times). Avoid keyword spamming (Having more than 15 keywords on a given page). Google’s algorithm has the ability to look at like-mannered keywords, such as synonyms. Using synonyms naturally is a good practice.
- Keywords in the page title – Using your targeted keywords in the page title is important. Don’t use a keyword more than twice in the title. Put the keyword as close to the front of the title as possible.
- Use of canonical tags – Canonical tags are a way of letting Google know what pages for them to point to when you have two similar pages, thus avoiding duplicate content. Use only one canonical per URL.
- Images and alt tags – Since images can’t really add to optimization, their alt tags can. This helps in two ways. When using your targeted keyword in the alt tag, it helps to add relevancy to the page, as well as helping that image to show up in an image search.
- Minimum page content – Make sure that the pages you want to rank for have a minimum of 300 text characters and at least 50 textual words on the page
- Static URL’s – According to research conducted by SEOMoz, URLs with dynamic parameters have been shown to have dramatically worse performance in search engines rankings than static URLs.
- H1 tags – Naturally use your targeted keyword in the H1 Tag and only use one H1 tag per page.
- Page title length – The visible portion of the page title in the search results extends to 66 characters, after which the engines will often truncate with an ellipsis. So keep your relevant information within the first 66 characters.
- Avoid keyword self-cannibalization – To keep other pages within your website of competing for the same search query, avoid from linking internally to another page with the targeted keyword as the exact anchor text.
- Internal links – Using excessive internal links pointing to other pages reduces the quantity of link juice sent through those links to other pages, and can influence Google from crawling, indexing and ranking those pages. The preferred amount should be less than 100, and at a minimum 300 or less.
- Minimal subfolders in a URL – URLs with a fewer number of tailing slashes seem to perform better than those with more. If a URL has too many trailing slashes a search engine will see this as a deep site structure and may be less likely to crawl those deeper pages.
- Obtaining backlinks – Although recently scrutinized with Google’s Penguin update, obtaining good, natural links from authority sites is still a good practice. Links should come from industry-related websites. Avoid bad link neighborhoods and paying for links. Mix up your anchor text as to not have the same anchor text going to the same page.
- Social Networks – Getting mentioned in and having good social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, are all good signals to Google that people value your website and its content.
- Videos – Having a YouTube channel with your own videos, and links pointing back to your various web pages, add to the ranking value of your website.
- Guest blogging – Participating in guest blogging for other websites, with a link back to your site, helps in increasing the page value of your web pages. Guest blogging should be on industry-related sites.
- Directories – Putting a company listing on industry-related directories is still a good practice. Avoid unrelated directories.
- Open discussion forums and blogs – Although comments in forums and blogs, with links pointing to your website carry little if any link value, participating in these arenas can help to build your brand as an authority.
This list does not cover all the points of optimizing one’s site for higher rankings, but it does cover the most important and basic elements for good SEO.