50 Best Practice tips for SEO
No one understands the dynamics of On Page, Off-page and Technical SEO quite like the experts whose business it is to remain in the know. Not every business owner has the time or inclination to keep up-to-date with the many changes and updates that Google implements each year to improve the online search user experience. You may have heard of Penguin, Panda and Possum but find the technical details baffling, and worse still, difficult to implement. This is when hiring an SEO consultant will save you the time in figuring out the technical requirements of good practice SEO yourself and whose expertise will get you the results you are after much quicker and with less stress.
Yes, keywords do play a vital role in SEO but it is not the be all and end all of this important cornerstone to digital marketing. This misnomer is one of the many reasons why website owners who take control of their own SEO fall short of attracting high visibility and an increase in sales leads. SEO is not about keyword stuffing but is rather a complementary process made up of individual parts that work well as part of a
Another common misconception that many self-marketers have is summed up in the question: Do I focus on implementing SEO techniques first or invest in Google Adwords for a boost in sales leads? In answering this question consider this: in leveraging the potential of digital marketing, diversification is key. You have
to make use of every tool, each with its own distinct advantage, available to you to beat the competition. SEO and Adwords work hand in hand to give you great ROI. Effective On page SEO helps with your business’ Adwords page score as the website’s content matches with ad content. Both strategies are
relevant to search and prioritising relevance in favour of good user experience which is why they are so successful in complementing each other. It is misconceptions like these and many more that we try to address in this comprehensive list of 50 best practice tips for SEO.
HOW TO APPROACH SEO
Using 4 categories, we have attempted to compile an easy-to-follow breakdown of the SEO process:
These categories contain techniques that require expert proficiencies for the best results from any SEO campaign. That was a warning: a less-than-knowledgeable approach can have your website not indexed at all.
This does not mean you have no control over the SEO process. Any reputable SEO professional will be more than happy to partner with you to ensure you get the best results, in fact, most would welcome your engagement. You can certainly play your part, and if you’re wondering what that is, have a look at the section on What You Can Do Yourself.
DIY SEO – What you can do yourself
- Know your online market
- Design your website in WordPress
- Do keyword research
- Create a sitemap of your website
- Conduct an SEO Audit of your website
On Page SEO
- SSL Certificate
- Domain Registration Length (Should Be More Than 1 Year)
- Should Have A Country TLD Extension i.e .com.au for Australian Websites
- Missing page titles
- Create Unique Titles for Each page
- Use Keywords in H1 & H2 tags
- Page titles and descriptions (too long or short)
- Missing a meta description
- Meta descriptions that are too short, too long, missing or duplicated
- Use Long Content
- Remove duplicate content
- Blog (2 posts a month)
- Focus on contextual links
- Internal and external links are missing anchor or ALT text
- Internal and external links are broken
- Images are missing ALT and title text
- Images are broken
- Site Usability
- Page Loading Speed Should Be High
- Site Uptime Should be High
- Server Location
- Terms of Service and Privacy Pages
Advanced On-page SEO
- Directory listings and niche directory listings
- Local High authority directories
- Guest posting
- Social bookmarks
- Unique article submission
- Competitor analysis
- Keyword tracking
- Google search report
- Backlinks and backlink audit
- Installing Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools
- Installation of codes that support the SEO program
- Set up a Google+ page
- Check browser and screen resolution compatibility
HOW TO GET STARTED ON SEO
WHAT YOU CAN DO YOURSELF
Whether you’re intending on creating a new business website from the ground up or planning on giving an existing one a makeover, SEO is going to be an indispensable part of the process. In order to smooth out this process, here are 5 tips explaining what you can do yourself to get the most out of your SEO campaign. We reiterate again: SEO should be done by a professional, however your involvement and buy-in is integral to the process.
1. Know your online market
The first step is to have a thorough knowledge of the online market in your particular business niche. Do you know who exactly your target market is? Where will you find your prospective customers? Will you cater to a local market or a global one? Do not be afraid to research the competition to see what type of
content they are offering. Their customer reviews provide useful information regarding gaps in the market, points of pain as well as customer needs. This can prove quite helpful when researching keywords to use (see tip 3) to get your web pages noticed.
2. Design your business website in WordPress
Using WordPress to design your website offers three great advantages: a very user-friendly CMS platform, affordability and a diverse range of plug-ins make SEO implementation simple. Backed by these benefits it is easy to see why WordPress remains a popular choice for small business owners wanting to
design their own websites as well as those wanting professional expertise for customized websites. The setup is very quick and simple and you don’t need to be an HTML specialist to get going.
3. Do keyword research
Don’t leave it all to the professionals. You know your business best and what your customers are looking for. It is helpful to bear in mind that it takes time to find the best keywords that provide desired results in rankings. A professional SEO consultant is proficient in long and short tail keywords and can advise on
how best to use location keywords, but it is still important that you find out what terms your prospects are looking for yourself. You can make use of free keyword planning tools available to help you. Of course a more experienced and knowledgeable eye can help you better understand the analytics part.
4. Create a sitemap of your website
A sitemap will help you organise the structure and look of your website, whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or you outsource to a professional web design company. Before you can choose a layout design, you will have to decide what pages you want on your website. Visitors are more than likely going to find
that a sitemap enhances their experience on your site. They can find the information they are looking for much more easily, saving them time in trudging through unnecessary information. A sitemap also communicates to search engine bots what pages of content your website offers, making indexing these
pages more effective.
5. Conduct an SEO Audit of your website
The only useful way to know why your website is not performing well on search engines is to conduct an SEO audit. This audit provides you with insightful information on where your website falls short on good ranking factors. You can conduct a free online SEO audit analysis by choosing any of the programmes
available on a Google search. These provide at best a limited analysis of your website’s shortcomings though. For a deeper and more reliable SEO report, using a professional SEO company that offers this service is a better investment. SEO professionals will also know exactly what steps to take to improve your
SEO, saving you time and money in the long term.
6. SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate serves to offer a secure and safe online experience for you and your visitors. Even if you aren’t an e-commerce site you will still want the privacy protection offered by the SSL certificate. You have peace of mind that your website’s security and data integrity and your visitor’s personal information is protected.
How does this help your website’s visibility? HTTPS or SSL websites are rewarded by Google with a minor boost in rankings. It is best to rely on the services of a professional webmaster to ensure that all proper steps are met and you are effectively protected.
7. Domain Registration Length (Should be more than 1 year)
Domain names form part of an effective best practice SEO strategy. Firstly, search engines consider the website name itself in order to determine its ranking. Secondly, the inclusion of relevant keywords in a domain name is important – the name is used as anchor text when website content is linked.
8. Should Have Country TLD Extension i.e .com.au for Australian Website
Country-code Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions offer a visual clue that tells search engines who your intended target audience is and where they are based. This helps search engines identify for which localized area the content will be more relevant and useful. In international searches the country code
extension is a strong indicator of where the websites originates. If you’re targeting a global audience then the generic .com extension is a better suggestion.
Country code domains have a secondary function – they can also be used to establish legitimacy as proper country codes help web users tell a legitimate website apart from a ‘spammer’ website.
9. Missing page titles
Page titles communicate the essence of what to expect from your content, to users as well as to search engines. This is why Google places a high indexing value on title tags as these help determine the content of a page. Title tags should contain keywords your visitors will be using in their search as it will immediately draw their attention and encourage them to perform the desired behaviour. A professional SEO consultant will know of the best practice techniques on how to include your brand in a title tag naturally.
10. Create Unique Titles for Each page
Page titles offer significant click-worthy value and spending time crafting compelling and unique and titles is well worth the investment. A professional SEO company has the experience and expertise in creating titles that grab attention and encourage desired reactions. Title tags have key roles to play in
browsers (they appear in tabs), search engine result pages (search queries using title keywords will boost visibility with the corresponding result of increased click-through rates) and it is good to keep in mind that social media sites use web page titles as link anchor texts.
A web page’s search results are prioritised according to a searcher’s experience with the bounce rate being the most crucial engagement metric measurement – a searcher will quickly navigate away from a site that provides no value. H1 tags are one of the first elements a searcher sees and they provide essential information on whether the page will be of value and whether they have landed on the right page.
Not optimizing H1 and H2 tags is a lost opportunity as tests have shown that in addition to a headline tag’s direct relationship to a web page’s ranking thanks to the inclusion of a keyword, an H1 can also impact on other organic ranking factors as well as a searcher’s engagement experience.
12. Page titles and descriptions (too long, short) and duplicated)
Too short, too long and duplicate page titles can all have an adverse effect on a website’s rankings. Duplicate titles can confuse a search engine as to which URL to show. Think of it as being at a crossroads with the same destination on road signs that point in opposite directions. This problem is easily solved through redirecting to a canonical version of a page.
Titles that are too long will be cut off by search engines on the results page. You run the risk of searchers not seeing essential keywords. And if your title tags are too short you are not using the designated space effectively and can generate an error message.
13. Missing a meta description
After the title tag, the meta description is the second opportunity to convince your searcher to click on your result. A meta description offers more word space to show a searcher that you have relevant and valuable information pertinent to their search.
Without a meta description not only will your ranking be compromised but a searcher will most likely skip your result, punishing you for not providing enough information. While you can write these yourself, an SEO professional will already have the expertise and experience in creating effective and hard-to-ignore
14. Meta descriptions that are too short or too long and duplicated
Too short meta descriptions may indicate to a searcher that your web page may not have sufficient information that is relevant to their search. In addition to this potential problem you are not utilizing the word space given to you and may not be providing key information.
Too long meta descriptions will be cut off by search engines. The searcher will not be able to see anything information that comes after the first 156 characters. Meta descriptions may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of SEO but they offer valuable information to a searcher. Duplicate descriptions can result in searcher avoiding your web page in favour of more unique descriptions and content. 15. Use Long Content SEO practitioners know that Google loves web pages that provide value and promote engagement to their users. All of their updates and changes point to this.
While well-written and optimized content provides some use for a user, with the extended word count of long form content, a web page can offer an increase in value to the user to the extent of a brand being deemed an ‘authority’ . Think of how beneficial this can be on your backlinking strategy. Long content is all
about enhancing the user experience with additional benefits of ranking content for keyword usage.
16. Remove duplicate content
One of the most common duplicate issues involves providing printer-friendly versions of your web page. Other duplicate content issues include having blocks of information repeated on different URLs. One problem is that search engines have difficulty in deciding which URL offers the best version to a search
query. Search engines will only provide one version to provide a good user experience.
Duplicate content results in undesired ranking performances and loss in web visitor traffic. 301 Redirects are a best practice SEO method to solve duplicate content issues. You can also make use of the meta robots tag and include “noindex, follow” if you do not want specific pages to be indexed.
17. Blog content
There are a number of reasons why a business blog finds itself at the top of the list of best practice SEO techniques. Tests conducted by industry experts continue to point to the positive impact blogs have on gaining a website high visibility on search engines, its influence in improving sales conversions and enhancing engagement with customers. These are just some of the advantages offered by a blog.
In order for your website to benefit from these business and marketing advantages you will need to pay attention to a few factors such as publishing at least two blog posts a month, strategic use of keywords and ensuring that posts contain engaging content.
One of the arguments in favour of contextual links is that they have a significant impact on search rankings. These offer a higher SEO value but have to be used correctly to do so. Contextual links are links that are surrounded by text (and have the keywords included) in the body of a web page’s content or blog post. One of the reasons why a blog page is so important to a website’s rankings is that blogs provide useful content that can be linked and shared on social media sites. Contextual linking is a highly effective strategy to can drive traffic back to your website.
Links that contain anchor texts boost a website’s organic search rankings. In creating both internal and external links, using anchor texts is a best practice method. The reason why search engines love the use of ALT text is that it references the subject matter of the page being linked to.
Broken links tell search engines two things: that your website is not updated regularly and that content may not be relevant. Secondly broken external and internal links do not contribute to a good user experience. Broken links can be a result of old content, change in CMS or technical issues.
If your web page has three broken links and a competitor’s page has none, a search engine will rate the competitor’s page higher than yours. To search engines broken links signify a dead end which is why they contribute to poor rankings.
21. Images are missing ALT and title text
All website content including title texts for images needs to be optimized for better search engine visibility. One of the best practice methods to optimize images is to include ALT texts. While we may be able to tell the subject matter of an image by simply looking at it, search engines require an image’s alt text to understand what an image is about. ALT texts and image title texts also perform a secondary function by telling search engines what the content context is all about which is why inserting a keyword or phrase is a good idea.
22. Images are broken
Similar to broken links, broken images can also provide a frustrating user experience. If images are important to the nature of your business, for example, your business is in the food and hospitality industry or you have an e-commerce website, then fixing broken image issues is critically important.
Broken image issues can be easily avoided by ensuring that you use your own images instead of relying on third-party images from stock photo websites.
23. Site Usability
One of the best ways for Google to provide its users with the best possible results is to look at the usability value a website offers visitors. In determining usability, variables such as ease of use, simple navigation, high quality actionable and relevant information (pertaining to the search) and easily understood content, linking patterns and site structure matter most.
Visitor behaviour such as bookmarking the site, sharing content on social media platforms and return visits all point to a great usability experience and will encourage a better ranking position.
24. Page Loading Speed Should Be High
The speed at which your website’s pages load is a strong influencer on how well search engines such as Google indexes a website. Pages that take time to load are found to have a higher bounce rate as they negatively impact a user’s experience.
25. Site Uptime Should be High
Uptime is one of the critical factors that influences a website’s ranking on search engines. When indexing websites, Google bots will test pages’ loading times (at three different times) and websites with many pages being unavailable will be penalised with low rankings, or as a more extreme punishment, your website’s removal from the index. Particularly important for e-commerce websites, downtime bears a direct impact on sales as customers will move onto the next site if yours takes a long time to load.
Regularly monitoring your site’s uptime will draw your attention to any problems visitors might be experiencing. Do your research. An expert SEO practitioner can point to effective software applications that monitor and measure uptime.
26. Server Location
Where your server is located has a bearing on your site’s performance on search engines, more particularly if the target audience is based in a single country. With the rising importance of localized searches, the importance of where your website’s server is located becomes an important consideration.
The closer the server location the better the visitor experience on the website.
27. Terms of Service and Privacy Pages
This may not be immediately apparent but Google does indeed take into consideration whether a website has included a Terms of Service and a Privacy page. These pages promote a website’s ‘trustworthiness’ in Google’s eyes and offer another level in the argument for legitimacy.
28. User and XML sitemap
All attempts to enhance the search experience contribute to improving SEO. This highlights the importance of making navigating around your website easy for web visitors by providing user and XML sitemaps. Sitemaps can be likened to an archive that stores all the URLs of your website’s pages. To a search engine, the more pages you have in your sitemap the more value you have to offer a searcher.
XML sitemaps are a handy technique used to ‘talk’ to search engines notifying them that you have updated your website with new content so that it can be indexed more quickly.
Robots.TXT, also referred to as robots exclusion protocol (REP), is an instruction-based text file created to tell search engine robots how to search through a website’s content in order to index it on search engines. The text file can also be used to prevent bad search engine bots from accessing a given domain. If there are pages you want to keep ‘hidden’ this is the text file to use.
Robots.TXT must be implemented correctly or else could ruin your business and you could end up with virtually no online visibility at all. As such, this should be best left to your SEO company to take care of.
30. 404 Error page
It may seem a contradiction in terms that an error code is a good SEO practice as it indicates that the URL you are looking for does not exist. However you can optimize and customize a 404 error page to make it appear ‘friendly’ to searchers. Use the page as a good branding opportunity and offer actionable navigational options in order to avoid a visitor from leaving your site. It is also a good idea to have a link back to your website’s Home page on the custom-designed error page.
31. Redirects not compatible with Google
Another contributory factor to good SEO is redirection which is forwarding to a different URL from the one a searcher clicked on. There are three types that can be valuable to a website’s performance on indexing by search engines: 301, 302 and Meta Refresh.
The purpose of redirects is useful for telling search engines that a web page has changed location or that an updated version of the content can be found at the new URL.
32. Robot Blocking
Robot blocking or the incorrect use of the robot.txt file can interfere with how well search engines index your website. Proper use of robots.txt can lead to quicker and better rankings. Using the file can also hurt your rankings if you mistakenly exclude important and useful information. Safe pages to exclude are:
temporary pages, code and script pages and private pages. Writing a well-written robots file takes a certain amount of expertise which is why it is best to leave to a professional SEO professional. This way you get to enjoy all the advantages of better SEO value and avoid the costs of lower rankings.
ADVANCED ON-PAGE SEO
Internal links directs a user to another page on your website. Internal linking can be used to point to product pages, blog posts and additional information that a user may find relevant. Internal linking makes navigation easier and helps a website create information hierarchy. It also helps SEO by providing a good user experience and keeping a visitor on your website for longer.
Two common mistakes made with internal linking are creating too many links to a homepage and contact us page. A better suggestion is to link to other pages on your website to strengthen their indexing.
34. Rich snippets and schemas
Rich snippets and schemas Once you have your title tags, meta descriptions and content optimized for search engines, adding shema.org structures can add an additional layer to improve the way your snippet information appears to visitors.
Schemas are tags that are added to your website’s HTML codes to instruct search engines on how you would like your information to be displayed on results pages. Snippets can be enhanced by adding a star rating and/or date of publication and can provide more details on items. For example, an event can be further identified as either a business event or entertainment event such as a theater production.
35. Multi-lingual websites
The very nature of a multi-lingual website requires a higher level SEO experts and optimized content in a number of languages. Having your original website optimized for top rankings will make it easier when having to do the same for web pages in a different language.
Make sure that each page has content in one language only as search engines use the content to determine the language used. Do not include side-by-side translations. Automated translations are not always reliable and can negatively affect a website’s reputation with users and search engines. Cross-
linking and using different URLs for each language are examples of best practice methods.
36. Mobile optimized
With more and more searches being accessed on mobile devices today it was just a matter of time before Google included the mobile-friendliness factor to its list of high ranking index elements. A mobile friendly algorithm implemented in 2015 by Google has forced website owners to pay attention to optimizing a
website to make it mobile friendly. A frustrating user experience will once again encourage Google’s algorithms to place a website at a lower ranking.
In optimizing a mobile website avoid anything that might lessen a user’s impact on it such as pop ups and Flash effects. Look at factors such as the size of buttons and the use of Schema.org structured data to offer better mobile visibility.
The use of Infographics for SEO is not one of its more commonly known uses. Considering their major social sharing appeal, Infographics can be a highly effective medium in garnering desirable attention to your business online through link building. The design of Infographics should pay attention to conveying relevant information quickly. These should also be captivating with high visual appeal to encourage sharing thus driving more traffic to your website. For SEO purposes think of Infographics as message boards to create the perfect message that promotes your brand as an industry leader.
38. Directory listings and niche directories
You’re well aware that in order to gain maximum attention for your business, you will need a greater amount of exposure. Business directory listings provide one such source to get your business noticed and is just another tool to be utilized. The problem is to find the right and relevant directories to post your business information to. Instead of spending time you do not have to research these sites, a professional SEO consultant already has a database of which directory listings are the most reliable for you and which keywords you should rank for.
Local high authority directories answer to two main purposes: boosting visitor traffic and better performance on search engine rankings. Authority directories can get your business website the desired exposure it needs for business growth. A simple search will provide a vast number of business directories that can prove to be too overwhelming to figure out which ones are the best to use.
Not all directories are created equal with some directories even being bad for your website’s ranking performance. Relying on the services of a professional SEO company in this regard is the best way to get your website on the high authority websites that count.
40. Guest posting
Guest posting on independent blogs in your industry’s niche offer advantages that range from encouraging backlinking to your website to being set up as a thought leader and industry expert. If you’re new to the blogging scene, an SEO company has the expertise to find ‘authoritative’ sites that have a great
number of followers and that accept guest posts. In order to drive a flood of traffic your way and encourage more backlinks, the content has to be of a high, killer quality. Ensure that you adhere strictly to any posting guidelines that need to be met with so that your post is not rejected.
41. Social bookmarks
In the quest for high quality backlinks social bookmarking has a key role to play. Again there are a great many social bookmarking sites to choose from which is why using a professional SEO consultant will save you enormously in time and money as opposed to if you had to do it yourself.
Another important benefit to take note of is that an inexperienced person might revert to spamming which only leads to disaster and Google punishing your website’s rankings. When used appropriately social bookmark sites are a highly useful channel in getting the word out about your website. Think of
them more like a digital public relations channel.
42. Unique article submission
Article submission is a type of article marketing method that is also beneficial in driving more traffic to a website. Effective keyword research plays an important part in creating relevant article content. When it comes to submitting articles creating well-written content that is engaging and offers high value will boost the impact of using article submission directories for SEO. An SEO consultant knows how to ensure that only unique quality content is submitted to the most trusted high page rank sites that actually gain you genuine traffic. With professional services, the risks of submitting spam-filled content are eliminated.
43. Competitor analysis
Why is competitive analysis important for SEO? The insights provide critical information that will help direct your SEO strategy. In conducting competitor analysis, you will want to factor in a few steps like researching what keywords to target for, identifying who the competitors are online in your particular niche. The next is to validate these SEO competitors by looking at the keywords they are ranked highly for and if these are similar to what you are targeting for. The next step can be a daunting one that includes using data to compare keyword relevance, search volume and page results characteristics before you are finally able to decide on what your final keyword targets will be. This competitor analysis process can be made much more simple and quick with the help of an SEO consultant.
44. Keyword tracking
For strong performance on search engine results pages it is essential to manage your keywords. Tracking your keyword rankings provides two benefits to your SEO strategy: it indicates where your successes lie and allows you to modify and strengthen the weak areas that are not performing well.
A professional SEO consultant has access to advanced keyword ranking tools to provide you with accurate real time results. A keyword monitoring tool is the best resource for helping you receive the best ROI out of your SEO strategy. While there are free keyword monitoring tools available online, having
professional help makes a world of difference.
45. Google search report
Including a search bar on your website allows you to generate a site search report in Google Analytics. The report offers you information on how visitors use the functionality and the keywords they have typed in. You get a first-hand insight into what visitors are looking for on your website and whether they have navigated away due to a poor user experience. You can also use the report to identify new potential keywords as well as search trends. Additional reports that that can be generated include e-Commerce reports and Goal reports.
When a website domain is delivering undesirable results, a manual backlink audit is immensely useful. Seeing that links are part of the bread and butter of good organic SEO, a manual audit undertaken by an experienced professional is a better option over an automated system.
Doing so manually delivers on a higher rate of accuracy. Crawling through backlink data allows you to identify and remove dead and toxic links. A proactive approach helps lessen the risks of link-related problems and being penalized by any search engine updates made by Google.
47. Installing Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools
All website owners who are serious about improving their website’s SEO will want to install Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics – free software programmes that provide immensely insightful information about your website. All that is required is setting up a Google account if you don’t already have one and then a simple verification and authorization process to establish that you have ownership of the website.
Google Analytics focuses on the technical aspects of your website while Google Webmaster Tools is used to improve the visibility of websites and offers information on links, search results and points out diagnostic issues.
48. Installation of codes that support the SEO program
An SEO audit can reveal those harmful pieces of your website’s source code that are contributing to SEO problems. But in determining problems you will need to know what it is you are looking for. Proper coding improves the crawl ability of your website whereas wrong coding can ‘confuse’ search engine algorithms. Your website’s source code matters for a number of reasons, not least of which is being able to identify issues that hamper search engine bots from reading your website properly such as incorrect scripting, the appearance of server-side code or CSS manipulation.
49. Set up a Google+ page
Adding a Google+ page to your business website’s arsenal of SEO strategies is effective for connecting with prospective customers and the community. Google+ business pages are particularly important for local search results. The platform is managed through Google My Business and boosts the visibility of your business, helping customers find you quicker. Additional benefits include managing your business’ online reputation, earning positive reviews from customers and gaining positive brand identity and better community engagement by sharing relevant content. Research also points to Google+ being highly influential on long term SEO.
50. Check browser and screen resolution compatibility
Creating the best possible user experience is one of the key reasons to check browser and screen resolution compatibility so that visitors stay on your website longer. The quicker the visitor navigates away from your site, the quicker the search engine learns that your website offers no value to a user and this impacts on how your website is indexed.
It is good practice to test screen compatibility for most commonly used resolutions.This is to ensure that your website is ‘usable’ and that all information is loaded correctly and clearly. Make sure your website’s content looks good on any screen, no matter the size or resolution.