Stupidly Simple SEO

Over the past few months I've been asked time and time again "What steps can I take to perform SEO on my site?" Generally, I ask about the site they are talking about (all sites need something a little different), have a nice little consultation with the person asking the question and then give them a list of things they may want to do (ideally), what they should do (mid-ground) and the things they need to do (must-do). So under those headings I've created a Top 10 list of the most common occurrences that I've found.

Must Do - Keep It Simple Stupid

Every site should generally have all the following completed.

Each page should have a UNIQUE title tag - add a keyword/phrase and your company name for good measure. - This is your primary marketing tool on search engines.

Each page should have a UNIQUE description - this should emphasise the main subject on this page - Its your main marketing tool on SERP's after your Title.

Use CLEAN CODE - this at a basic stage just means that you make styling and javascript external where possible.

Use a valid STUCTURE to each page - use Heading Tags appropriately ... don't use the H1 tag more than once.

Use ABSOLUTE LINKS for internal linking - a few reasons but I like it for safety reasons, if someone copies your content they copy a link to your site (most people who copy your content are too lazy to realise this link).

Create and Update a SITEMAP - this is in essence an aid, it means search engines can see a list of pages and relevant details about them. (there are a few places that will create sitemaps for free)

Define your URL - www. vs non- www. decide which you want and add a 301-redirect - tutorial.

Be SOCIAL - get yourself on twitter, facebook, myspace, digg etc - link up a little, but more than this just build connections, talk to people ask opinions and build a network. Search Engines love people to be SOCIAL, but don't spam social sites else they may ban you.

Where possible output to RSS feeds - you can submit these feeds to many sites, increasing your readership vastly.

Use ALT text on images - this attribute means google can index more about your site, meaning again more people can find you, and makes your site more accessible.

Mid - Ground

Still fairly simple stuff here - but requires a little more time, commitment and skill.

CONTENT is king - Give as much detailed info on the page topic as possible - do NOT copy this from another site - be unique.

REPLACE all "click here" links - links should be as descriptive as possible, anchor text is used by search engines and helps with accessibility.

Setup and send regular NEWSLETTERS - e-mail marketing is a fantastic way to reach your audience, encourage sign up and send out a newsletter on a regular basis.

Sign up to Google WEBMASTER tools - this is a nice little bunch of tools - sign up now for these tools.

Sign up for Google ANALYTICS - and any other analytics packages - get Google analytics.

Update your META tags - do this at least once a month until you get the best results possible for your site.

Find LINKS - ask your friends, family and anyone else for a link (or two) then go and ask other people too.

Content DENSITY ratio - this means less coding and more content!

Keywords in the DOMAIN - often this will help your SEO efforts, but only if your content is good.

Avoid FRAMES - they can't be indexed and there are CSS/AJAX alternatives that are better for search engines and from a usability view-point.

Ideally - Getting Advanced

This is where it can get complicated and it will need real time and effort, as well as skill at a higher level.

Do NOT use Flash -  flash cannot be indexed, it won't harm your SEO efforts (unless its your navigation) but it certainly won't help it.

Link OUT - but only to sites your trust, this generally means the links will be of a higher quality.

Implement extra META tags - this includes the robots and expire tag.

Link new pages from your HOMEPAGE - doing this means that search engines and users will find it sooner.

Host on a REPUTABLE webhost - get a good referral and don't jump into a deal that looks good, quality over price means you will always see more traffic to a reputable host than a host whom is questionable.

Start using PPC advertising - normally through Google Adwords (though MSN and Yahoo have similar programs), depending on your market this can be dirt cheap quality-traffic or high-cost quality traffic.

Submit PRESS releases - there a several sites that allow you to do this for FREE.

If your content SYSTEM is "out of the box" use the SEO plugin available - eg wordpress has "all-in-one SEO", it cuts your work down.

Update ALL content on a regular basis - dependant on the size of your site you should update each page every few months (this doesn't include blog posts).

Finally, keep clear of BLACK-HAT techniques - keep the right side of the Guidelines.

Free Sitemap Tools

    If you use Wordpress I advise you use - XML Sitemaps plugin (it also creates a robots.txt file and submits the sitemap for you).

    Another nice little tool to generate XML sitemaps (though a little limited).

    Also there is this tool which generates the sitemap in a slightly different way to the one above.

Free Press Release Tools

    I use Press Box quite a lot - not the best or the worst of the bunch.

    Click Press is another nice tool - though quite limited.

    Finally, my favourite Press Release tool is PRLOG.org - it has the best search engine pick up i've found for any site like this.