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.


  • 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
  • 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.


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.