There's a post in this blog called the starter for ten post. It's a simple SEO checklist. However in the spirit of our plain English approach here's another take on this old favourite using what and why.
On page analysis from the top down:
- What? - Make sure your title element (tag) describes the page and uses keywords. Every page needs its own title tag, site wide title tags are a bad idea. Remember Google will display 66 (although I've seen 70) characters and Yahoo 120 characters.
Why? - The text in the title tag is used by search engines for indexing your page. It's also used in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as the text in the link that links to your page. Make your title tag something worth clicking. More on title tags.
- What? - Make your URL's human readable or Search Engine Friendly (SEF).
Why? - Making your URL's human readable means they can help to describe the page and use keywords. Keywords in URL's can help you rank for a keyword or phrase.
- What? - Describe your page in the meta description element (tag). Google will display 160 characters. These elements should be unique for each page!
Why? - The text snippet displayed in the SERPs under the blue link text can either be taken from the page (by the search engine spider) or from the meta description. If you write good meta descriptions and Google's spiders use them you can be in control of the words that appear in the SERPs. Google will highlight keywords that match the search and this could mean the difference between getting a click and not getting a click.
- What? - Use the meta keywords element (tag) for important keywords. Only add keywords that describe the page, don't add unrelated keywords.
Why? - Although Google doesn't use the meta keywords information other search engines do.
- What? - Use a CSS based design and adopt web design best practices for styling your page.
Why? - Search engine spiders don't see what users see. They have to parse all the code that makes up a page including all your HTML. Make it easier for them.
- What? - Make sure your page content is correctly tagged. For example if you have a main header make it an H1.
Why? - By tagging your content you are providing the search engine spiders with a clue about what's important on the page and what isn't so important.
- What? - Create an XML Sitemap and feed it into Google, Yahoo and Live.
Why? - To make sure the search engines can find all your pages.
- What? - Use Google Analytics or something like Clicky.
Why? - So you can measure and see what's working and what's not.
- What? - Sort out any canonical issues.
Why? - So there is only one version of each of your sites web pages.
Obviously there is a lot more to SEO than is shown in this simple check list but if you follow this advice you WILL see an improvement in your site's performance.