Search engine optimization practices can be categorized in three ways: SEO practices to include, SEO practices to avoid, and SEO practices that can get your site banned from search engine indexes. Today’s post sorts 39 common SEO practices into the three categories so you’ll know which ones to put into effect and which ones to pass on.
The Good — SEO practices every blog owner should strive to include:
- Create content relevant to your blog’s topic.
- Add fresh content frequently.
- Use keyword phrases.
- Emphasize your keyword phrases with HTML tags such as <strong>Keyword Phrase</strong>.
- Include keyword phrases in your domain name.
- Include keyword phrases in your title tag and meta data. (Tip: Use the WordPress All-in-One SEO Pack plugin)
- Use keyword-rich permalinks.
- Measure your post’s keyword density.
- Use tags for your post title and subheadings.
- Develop quality backlinks — incoming links to your site that are relevant and from popular sites.
- Use anchor text when creating links within your posts.
- Link to other pages within your own site to develop deep links.
- Ensure your graphics have alternate image text.
- Include keyword phrases in the opening paragraph of your posts.
- Check the quality of your outbound links using a free PageRank checking tool.
- Make substantive updates to older pages.
- Make your images clickable to relevant content and use the image’s description field to let viewers know where the link will take them.
- Include a text script of your podcasts. (Search engine bots can’t “read” audio files)
- Ensure your site is hosted by a reputable host. (Read their spamming policy and check the server’s up-time percentage)
- Make sure your site’s theme has clean code. (Search engines can’t read badly written code and will ignore those pages instead of indexing them. For more information about this, read “My Personal Reasons for Choosing WordPress.”)
The Bad — SEO practices every blog owner should avoid:
- Flash — not only do flash sites load slowly and annoy viewers, flash cannot be read by spiders, and therefore no flash content can be indexed. If you must use flash on your blog, make sure you include alternative image text.
- Frames — frames aren’t supported by some browsers and are skipped by some search engine spiders. If you must use frames, include a <noframes> page with a good description of the page.
- Overuse of external links — Use links when necessary to enhance your viewer’s experience and expand their knowledge, but overuse of external links dilutes the quality of your own site’s content.
- Image-only navigation — if you use image links for your blog’s navigation, include a text link as well.
- Over-optimization of keyword phrases — keep your keyword phrase percentage within the recommended 3-5% range.
- Misspellings — check the spelling on your posts before publishing to ensure your content is properly indexed.
- Link Farms — do not link to link farms.
- Link-only Pages — if you create a link page, include relevant descriptions with the links. Search engines sometimes equate link-only pages with spam.
- Frequent Minor Corrections — updating your old content is good for SEO, however, make the updates useful and substantive. Minor changes to old content, especially frequent ones, may give the appearance that you’re only doing the updates to attract attention of search engines.
- Repeated Links on Same Page — avoid including duplicate links on the same page. This appears spammy to search bots.
- Link Exchanges — participating in deliberate link circles and link exchanges (Blogger A links to C and C links to B, etc.) may give the appearance to search engines that you are buying inbound links.
- Duplicate Content — duplicate content appears spammy to search engines.
- Broken Links — periodically check your links and mend broken links.
- Buying Links — you should never buy inbound links in hopes of increasing your search engine rankings. Instead, develop a consistent link-building strategy that includes good tactics.
The Ugly — SEO practices that can get your blog banned from search engines:
- Copyright Infringement — know the law about fair use and quoting, but when in doubt, ask the author’s permission.
- Improper Redirects — use the permanent 301 redirect (found within your domain registrar’s admin panel). Otherwise, search engines may think you’re a spammer by attempting to display one url but directing viewers to another site.
- Invisible Images — some spammers use links within 1-pixel square images, which cannot be seen by humans. The best practice is to never include image links for single-pixel images.
- Invisible Text — matching text to the background color or making it so small it can’t be seen (i.e. 1-pixel) is a practice by many spammers. Don’t do it.
- Cloaking — this practice includes displaying search-engine friendly content to the search engines to attain high rankings but directing those who click on the search engine results to completely different content.
You’ve heard this many times before, but the best SEO practices center around relevancy and reader relationships. Write great, informative content with your readers in mind, then go back through your post and tweak it by ensuring you’ve included a good percentage of keyword phrases (3-5%), and you’ll naturally climb higher within the search engine results pages.
Until next time,