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 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.