The Ultimate Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet 4.0
SEO can be an abstruse, enigmatic and intimidating topic for many first-time internet entrants. Moreover, there tends to be many different techniques and strategies and quite about of material out there offering conflicting or ambiguous information.
SEO can also become especially convoluted depending what area one decides to put ones focus and whether one chooses to largely engaged in onsite or offsite SEO or a combination of both.
In response to the need for a quick reference guide I have produced the below quick reference guide or checklist. While I confess, this is heavily truncated, this is primarily designed for clients that have requested some short tips or succinct guidance with their websites they can access now.
This article serves as the preamble or quick reference guide for individuals concerned about their site’s SEO as I develop the full length The Ultimate Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet 4.0 which will be expansive and more detailed for more seasoned website owners and SEO’s.
Hopefully this proves helpful in the short term to avoid some very basic SEO blunders that can have long terms Searh Engine Optimization consequences or to give site owners some tips on things they can effectuate now in order to give their site’s an SEO leg up against their competitors.
The first area worthy of mention (and a quick and easy fix) is the Whois.com information associated with your website. For many the temptation is to privately register one’s ownership information on their websites. There is no shortage or advertisements or solicitations from registrars to upsell additional services like this one to their domain holders. Other site owner may list vague or ambiguous information or false street addresses and contact information that become public on their Whois.com to protect their privacy.
This is a practice that I strongly frown upon. Google, Yahoo and Bing are now looking at the credibility of Whois.com information as a ranking factor. While the temptation is always there to avoid full disclosure on Whois.com the algorithms are designed to penalize sites for failure to pass this very basic “credibility test.” So my suggestion, use accurate and credible Whois.com information when you populate your registrar information. Also, do not privately register your domain under any circumstance. This is an automatic red flag to the search engines.
As a related concern to this issue is the legitimacy and accuracy of the contact information on your “Contact Us” page. I would be sure to actually list an address that is real and verifiable and also corresponds with other websites that may list the address like your Google + page, manta.com, the BBB and other business directory sites.
One other thing that I would also stress, is the importance of proper spelling and grammar. While this may sound rather obvious from a common sense perspective for the sake of conversion on your website and for the benefit of your readers and visitors, the SEO implications are tremendous. The search engines are looking to screen out poor quality content and this starts with well written content with proper spelling, syntax and grammar. One major red flag is the exodus of many SEO companies toward outsourcing content production to the third world where writers produce high volumes of content in English as a second language. Paying for low quality or “filler” content is strongly admonished by the search engines. Remember quality content is key.
Resist the temptation to overly-SEO your website. This is another major caveat as this too can create a penalty for your website or hurt you in the rankings. I suggest natural website development without stuffing keywords, overly adjusting title tags or meta descriptions or attempting to game or cheat the search engines. Remember to provide a positive user experience on your site through your quality content, generally well developed site, etc.
The other thing that I tell many online entrepreneurs eager to monetize their assets, is to strike a balance between content and user experience and the commercial element of their websites. In particular, populating your site with a large number of ads could prove deleterious to your website’s performance and search engine ranking.
Part and parcel of this, is to avoid other overly commercial (or even obnoxious) strategies that many site owners employ to increase earnings on their sites. This may include pop-ups, solicitations, or even affiliate links or banners.
I would suggest also going through your website to prune dead or broken links. Specifically, one should look at links on the upper navigation bar, the side navigation bar, and other important home page links to internal pages. Issues with these primary links that would otherwise create a click path to the internal pages on your site can have a substantially negative effect.
In keeping with the concept of solid and healthy links, one thing to especially look out for are 404 errors. This can be devastating to site performance and can create almost instant repercussions on one’s site. One should consistently evaluate webmaster tools and analytics and run tests on one’s website to ensure there are limited to no errors of this nature and to find and correct any that do arise.
One way that 404’s have a way of creeping up on site owners on the ecommerce side is deleting old products or hiding items when they are out of stock or obsolete. While I know the importance of managing your “virtual inventory” or curriculum of products on your site, please be keenly aware of the SEO implication for product pages that have been indexed and then deleted or hidden.
My suggestion would be to leave the products and maybe change the inventory status in your shopping cart to zero so the product cannot be ordered by your clients or visitors. While this is far from optimal in terms of keeping your site updated in the eyes of your customers it avoids the potential detrimental effects of errors on your site.
While this may sound obvious, make sure that you have Google Analytics installed and check it off to check the health of your traffic.