August 2009

On-Site Optimization for SEO

by Jay Bhatti on August 25, 2009

  • Create a site with unique, rich content.
  • Ensure that both content and page markup are well-formatted and have no errors.
  • Google will naturally favor bigger brands, and push them to the top of search results.
    • This means that site branding is more important than ever.
  • The ‘keywords’ meta tag is never used by Google for determining search ranking.

Keywords

  • Have 5-10 specific keywords or keyword phrases been identified to increase targeted traffic?
  • Have Keywords been analyzed for search popularity?
  • Have selected keywords been associated with specific pages on the site?
  • Have selected keywords been inserted in content with 7% keyword density?
  • Are keywords leveraged in URL folders and file names, including image files?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in URL?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Domain Name?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Title Tag?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Meta Description Tag?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Meta Keyword Tag?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in H1, H2 and H3 Tags?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Bold and Strong Tags?
  • Is there use of a Keyword / Key phrase in content?
  • Is there prominence of Keyword / Key phrase in webpage code?
  • Is there a Keyword / Key phrase in Alt text for images?
  • Is there use of Keyword / Key phrase in Anchor text?
  • Are we using hyphens to separate keywords in URL’s?
  • Are Keyword Density and Keyword Prominence employed?

Technical Considerations

  • Does the site properly use a robots.txt file?
  • Does the site have an XML-based Sitemap deployed?
  • Does the site have a text-based, standard sitemap?
  • Does the site avoid serving duplicate content on multiple URLs?
  • Are 301 redirects in place for content residing in alternate URL domains?
  • Does the site limit user input forms required to access content?
  • Are Query-string URLs avoided throughout the site?
  • Does the site consist of 5 or fewer subdirectory levels?
  • Do site URLs generally avoid parameter strings in excess of 4 variables?
  • Is JavaScript / CSS generally avoided or referenced external to source code?
  • Is Flash-only content avoided?
  • Is there a good Internal Navigation tree like structure?
  • Does HTML Sitemap link to all pages?
  • Are there any RSS Feeds?
  • Have we validated coding of webpage’s as per W3 standards?
  • Are we compressing the file size of web page?
  • Do we avoid excess use of Java Script?
  • Are we promoting use of CSS for coding?
  • Are we using off page CSS and Java Scripts?
  • Are we avoiding long URL’s?

Off-Page Ranking Factors

  • What’s the age of page from were back link is coming?
  • Is there frequent change in Anchor Text?
  • Popularity of referring page
  • What’s the position of the link?
  • Is site listed in Dmoz.org?
  • Is site in Yahoo Directory
  • Is site listed in Wikipedia
  • Is site listed in other reputed directories
  • Have we submited site to classified directories?
  • Are we getting back links from Social Media sites?
  • Have we submited frequent articles to article directories?
  • Have we submited press release frequently?
  • Increase site and web page traffic
  • Do we have a method for increasing CTR?
  • Do we have a method for decreasing bounce rates of site?
  • Do we have a method for increase time spent on page and site?

Destination Site

Because Google penalizes sites for being low-content gateway or thin referral sites (see the -30 penalty below) every site must be a destination site that retains users for as long as possible. There are a number of common strategies for adding value to a site and preventing it from being marked as a gateway or referral site, though the most important thing is always to add content to a site and retain users for longer. Some common strategies include:

  • Adding a blog to the site. Rumor has it that Google loves blogs, but the blog must have regular content updates – just its presence won’t help!
  • Writing content for humans, not search engines.

There are a number of additional theories circulating that have not been verified. These are nothing more than ideas, but they may be valuable.

  • Every page should be content-rich, and that any pages that are not will only detract from a site’s PageRank.
  • Each page should have a single focus. If a page has multiple targets or foci, it should be split into separate, more focused pages.

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Google Penalties

by Jay Bhatti on August 2, 2009

These penalties are speculation, and penalty numbers are neither an exact nor a precise measure of the exact ranking change associated with each penalty. A penalty of -N means that a site will drop (approximately) N positions in Google’s returned results, equivalent to falling N/10 pages from the front page.

Certainty Description Penalty Potential Solution
High Site is overly-optimized for a certain keyword -6 Do not overly stress a single keyword.
High Site is a low-content gateway to another site (a doorway site) or has many redirects -30, hurts both sites Create unique, high content sites with high-quality links and avoid JavaScript redirects (use a 301) and doorway pages.
Medium Backlinks to site have over-optimized or uniform anchor text -50 Use natural language and vary your backlink anchor text and use ‘nofollow’ where appropriate to prevent Google from crawling a link.
Medium Site appears to be involved in a link-farming scheme -60 Avoid site-wide links, links from ‘bad neighborhoods’, paid links, and links from low-quality directory sites while building quality links with varied anchor text.
Low Site appears to be a spam site (a meta-penalty taking into account all the above penalties and more) -950 Avoid other penalties while also maintaining a content-rich, clean site with good html. Avoid over-optimization.
Low Site is hacked or purely a spam or scam site delist Failure. Start over.

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