Relocated from Top10SEOTips.com
In an effort to consolidate our websites, we’ve moved this page from an older domain and will be updating it in 2016. The tips are still relevant and important today.
Please enjoy these award-winning Top 10 SEO Tips for webmasters and website owners. Too many people make the mistake of spending thousands of dollars on just Pay-Per-Click (Sponsored Ads) campaigns before they realize that most people click on the non-sponsored listings more than "Sponsored Ads". There are several hundred techniques to achieve higher ranking in the search results, but these Top 10 SEO Tips are in my opinion the most valuable and timeless. They are also current, as I’m making a point to update this list respective to changes in search engine algorthims.
The Top 10 SEO Tips contained in this tutorial were created after years of experimentation and practical application with hundreds of client websites, mostly with final results of achieving higher ranking within the first page of search engine results. We hope you find these SEO tips valuable. For an in-depth study of everything we know about search engine optimization, please visit our new SEO Roadmap website, download our free eBook, or give us a call.
SEO Tip #1: Find the Best Keywords
It would be a waste of your time to optimize your website for keywords that are not even being searched for. Even if you do get top placement for a broad keyword that isn’t what most users are looking for, Google will calculate the number of times users did not select your listing, and the number of times they returned to the search results to choose a different website. Trying to beat this calculation is futile and more often then not, just a huge waste of time and energy.
Therefore you should invest some resources into finding the best keywords; those that turn searches into purchases or leads. Buying Sponsored Ads and paying for high end design and usuability is best place to start. However, there are several SEO tools and SEO software available on the Internet to help you find the best keywords; most of which are offered by the search engines themselves and are completely free.
Here is a core principle of the Top 10 SEO Tips: When using any SEO tool for doing keyword research, start by keeping your searches ambiguous, creating categories, and drilling down to create small clusters (or silos) of keywords. The results will always return new suggestions and ideas, sometimes surprising ones that you may not have thought of. In the Sponsored Ads, these clusters become your ad groups. With your SEO, they become the directories (or taxonomy) of the content you’ll want to have on your website.
Behavioral-targeting and using Long Tail Keywords are an excellent way to get higher ranking quickly for keywords that generate sales, and will have longevity to them in the search results. Poor keyword examples would be: kindle, nike shoes, roommate new york. Here are some examples of keywords that are ideal for SEO:
- Buy Used Amazon Kindle Online
- Nike Shoes Kobe Mens Size 10
- Find a Roommate in NYC
SEO Tip #2: Discover What Your Competitors are Doing
It’s a fact and one of my Top 10 SEO Tips, that search engines analyze incoming links to your website as part of their ranking criteria. Knowing how many incoming links your competitors have, will give you a fantastic edge. Of course, you still have to discover your competitors before you can analyze them.
Your analysis of competitors should include these extremely important linking criteria (super SEO tips), such as:
- Competitor rank in the search engines
- Quantity AND quality of incoming links (prioritized)
- What keywords are in the title of linking page?
- % of links containing specific keywords in the link text
- The Google PageRank™ or MozRank of linking pages
- The popularity of the linking domain and the linking page (measured by links & mentions)
Aside from using some of the awesome SEO software mentioned on this website, here are some things I personally do when researching a competitor:
- Click the link to their Site Map page and see what keyword you find in the links
- Get a savvy web person to find and parse their XML Site Map to find keywords in page names
- View the HTML title and meta tags of your top competitors to compile a list of needed content
SEO Tip #3: Write Very Linkable & Sharable Content
An article is not a sexy thing to look at here in today’s online marketing world. Generic content can’t be slapped together and thrown online with the hope that it will get high ranking for the life of that page of content. Think about the book the Long Tail that I linked to above. I do because the content was meanful and useful to me in my career as an SEO Expert. The content could have these attributes if it has any hope of earning and sustaining higher ranking in the search engine results (many of these came directly from Google):
- The content is useful
- The content is original
- You can’t help but link to it
- There are supportive facts and references
- There’s enough detail that nobody can memorize it
- Something fun or interesting is included (like video)
- It’s not just blah, blah, blah, content
- There’s enough call to action to invoke engagement
- There are visual examples, charts, and references
- You had multiple contributors who all link to the content
- You thank or compliment someone who shares it with others
- You have an offer, discount, or promotion included
- How To’s and tutorials are a great way to get people to link
- Create a controversy
- Answer questions
- Conduct research & discuss the results
- Get involved with social media
- Create lists (Top 50 Link Building Techniques, etc)
- Get a blog and establish yourself as an authority
- Run a service or create a product (ie: Firefox extension)
SEO Tip #4: Optimize Your Title and Meta Tags
HTML titles and meta tags should be different on every page of your website if you wish for most search engines to store and list them in the search results. Us SEO Expert’s have experimented with these two pieces of code to help us reach an accepted conclusion about how best to use them and what happens when you optimize them.
The meta “keywords” tag won’t be discussed in to much detail here, since Google has announced that they do not use the meta keywords tag in their ranking criteria. Because Google has 64 percent market share in search, that should be enough to convince you to not spend a lot of time on this attribute.
Optimizing Your Homepage Title
There are different theories about how long your homepage title should be. Since Google only displays the first 66 or so characters (with spaces), my Top 10 SEO tips for the title on anything other than the homepage would be to keep the title under 66 characters and relevant to the content on the page. However, some (including myself) argue that the value of the homepage title may warrant additional search term inclusion. Let’s take a look at Amazon and Ebay homepage titles:
- eBay – New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices
- Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more
- Local SEO Services, Local Search Engine Optimization, Mobile Search, Online Advertising for Local Businesses | LocalSplash.com
- Buy.com – Computers, Electronics, Digital Cameras, Books, DVDs, Music, Games, Software, Toys, Sports
Optimizing Your Homepage Meta Description
Same best practice applies here. Get those top terms into a description that isn’t spammy and is a clear indicator of what your website is about. Below are the meta descriptions from eBay and Amazon.
- Buy and sell electronics, cars, clothing, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods, digital cameras, and everything else on eBay, the world’s online marketplace. Sign up and begin to buy and sell – auction or buy it now – almost anything on eBay.com.
- Online shopping from the earth’s biggest selection of books, magazines, music, DVDs, videos, electronics, computers, software, apparel & accessories, shoes, jewelry, tools & hardware, housewares, furniture, sporting goods, beauty & personal care, broadband & dsl, gourmet food & just about anything else.
The rule of thumb here is to get your most important keywords into your homepage title and meta description.
Optimizing Subpage Titles and Meta Tags
Let’s take a break for a moment and discuss Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Bounce Rate. When you perform a search in a search engine, what shows up in your web browser is called an impression. When you make a selection, that selection is called a click. Google and other search engines record each impression and each click to help them understand which listings are being clicked on the most. They also record patterns (so stop thinking about getting all your friends to search for and click your listing). If the majority of normal search volume selects your listing, you’ll have a higher CTR and higher ranking; same applies for Sponsored Ads by the way.
That being said, if a healthy percentage of searchers return to Google’s search results (called a Bounce) and select a different listing, your CTR value will be reduced and ultimately so will your ranking.
To get and stay at the top of the search results, you need to be the most attractive listing in the search result, and you need to provide enough content to prevent the searcher from leaving your website to find a different listing.
This one SEO tip could make or break your SEO campaign. Click-Through Rate (CTR) plays an instrumental role in how relevant Google thinks your website is. By compelling users to click with clear call-to-actions (buy, order, download, beat, fix, etc) and by using value propositions (guaranteed, on sale now, etc), one can improve their CTR and search engine ranking. Oh, don’t forget to squeeze your keywords in there as well.
If you ever forget this SEO tip, just perform a search in Google for “title tag principles”, where you’ll find my listing invoking these principles. Another great resource for learning more about writing effective meta tags can be found on the Splash Copywriter blog, entitled Meta description masterclass: a data-driven guide to the little search snippets that win you big business
Here’s some sample syntax:
<title>Call to Action, Keywords, & Value Proposition (under 66 characters)</title>
<meta name="description" content="Differently worded call to action, keywords, & value proposition (under 160 characters)" />
<meta name="keywords" content="one to five keywords separated by commas" />
SEO Tip #5: Optimizing Your Headings and Subheadings
In college and some high schools, essays are written using a standard guideline created by the Modern Language Association (MLA). These guidelines included how to write you cover page, title, paragraphs, how to cite references, etc. On the Web, we follow the W3C’s guidelines as well as commonly accepted "best practices" for organizing a web page (page structure).
Headings play an important role in organizing information, so be sure to include ONLY ONE H1 tag when assembling your page, and optionally using one or more subheading (H2-H6). Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), I was able to make my h1 at the top of this page more appealing. Here’s a piece of code you can pop into your heading:
h1 font-size: 18px;
h2 font-size: 16px;
h3 font-size: 14px;
Since a page full of headings would look just plain silly, my SEO tip would be to fill in the blank space with paragraphs, ordered and unordered lists, images, and other content. Try to get at least 400+ words on each page.
SEO Tip #6: Use Title and ALT Attributes
Using the title attribute is a direct method of telling the search engines and the user more information about where a link will take them if they click through it. It’s also a W3C standard for making your page accessible to those who are visually impared. In other words, blind folks can navigate through your website using a special browser that reads title and ALT attributes. Sample syntax might be:
<a href="http://www.top10seotips.com/seo_software.htm" title="SEO Software to Help You Get Higher Search Engine Ranking">SEO Software</a>
The ALT Attribute is used for the same reasons as the title attribute, but is specifically for describing an image to the search engine and to the visually impared. Here’s how you might use ALT attribute in an image tag:
<img src="http://www.top10seotips.com/images/logo-top10seotips.jpg" alt="Top 10 SEO Tips – Search Engine Marketing Tips and SEO Software Featured by SEO Expert Steve Wiideman">
SEO Tip #7: Optimizing File Nomenclatures
Whenever possible, you should save your images, media, and web pages with the keywords in the file names. For example, if your keyword phrase is "golf putters" you’ll want to save the images used on that page as golf-putters-01.jpg or golf_putters_01.jpg (either will work). It’s not confirmed, but many SEO’s have experienced improvement in ranking by renaming images and media. You also may receive visits from Google Images and other media search queries.
More important is your web page’s filename, since many search engines now allow users to query using "inurl:" searches. For fun, try this query in Google (copy/paste): “ebook site:.com filetype:pdf”. You’ll find all you can eat eBooks (you’re welcome).
Your filename for the golf putters page could be golf-putters.html or golf_putters.html. Anytime there is an opportunity to display or present content, do your best to insure the content has the keywords in the filename (as well as a Title or ALT attribute).
You may need to contact your IT department or webmaster to rewrite your page URLs if your website platform is non-accommodating to custom URL nomenclature.
SEO Tip #8: Tell the Search Engines What to Index
I may take a lot of heat from the other SEO’s out there for this one, especially because Google and other search engines have already helped reduce the amount of duplicate content indexed. However, I do enough search queries that begin with “site:” to know that duplicate content is still a major issue. Worse, I see a lot of files showing up in the indexes that should be hidden from the world (case in study: all the free PDF’s you’re probably still downloading from SEO Tip #7).
Optimizing Your robots.txt File
By far the easiest top 10 SEO tips you will ever do as it relates to search engine optimization is include a robots.txt file at the root of your website. Open up a text editor, such as Notepad and type "User-agent: *". Then save the file as robots.txt and upload it to your root directory on your domain. This one command will tell any spider that hits your website to "please feel free to crawl every page of my website".
If you have, adding a simple “Disallow: /js/” to a file called the robots.txt will tell the crawlers not to bother with files in the JS folder and to only focus on your content, as opposed to non-important source code.
Here’s an example of the robots.txt file from this website:
Redirecting Duplicate Content
For consistency, it’s better to have one version of each page to get all the inbound links and earn all of the points with the search engines. This means telling Google and Bing (in their respective Webmaster Tools) to only index the www.-version of your website (or the non-www version if you’re “one of those types of people”). You can also use your Windows Server or a file called the .htaccess file on your Apache server to permanently redirect one version to the other.
Next, add a new tag to every page of your website to prevent other versions of the page from appearing in the search results. Just think about all the different ways we display content. There are often “Print View”, “Flash Version”, and pages with reviews, ratings and comments that append page URLs with strings such as &rating=5, &view=print, etc. To correct this issue, we add a Canonical Tag to every page of the website. Here’s the syntax:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.top10seotips.com/seo_tips.htm" />
Finally, you should round up all those domains you bought and make sure they are pointing to your one main website with a 301 Permanent Redirect. Bruce Clay created a way to this efficiently which he called an IP Funnel. I’ve been the victim of this so many times being an SEO Expert. More than once, I’ve found myself scratching my head trying to figure out why a website would not get Google PageRank™, only to find out later than an older domain held by the client had been displaying the same content and had been the one Google gave the credit to.
SEO Tip #9: Feed Search Engines Static and XML Site Maps
Optimizing Your Static Site Map
PageRank is relative and shared throughout a website by a unique voting system created by Google. I could spend two days trying to explain how PageRank™ works, but what it comes down to is having efficient navigation throughout your site. That's where a site map page comes in. Since every page on the website will be linked to the site map, it allows webcrawlers (and users) to quickly and easily find content. This SEO tip is one of my favorite top 10 SEO tips.
It used to take 4 clicks to get to a product page at www.questinc.com. By creating a site map, users and search engines can now access any page on the site with only two clicks. The PageRank from these deep pages went from 0 to 2 in about 3 months and the ranking went from virtually not existent to #1 almost across the board for nearly 2,000 pages on their site.
Feel free to search Google for any of the terms on this catalog page, such as MITSUBISHI Monitor Repair. See how powerful a static site map can truly be.
Using XML Site Maps
Though you may feel like it is impossible to get listed high in Google’s search engine result page, believe it or not that isn’t Google’s intention. They simply want to insure that their viewers get the most relevant results possible. In fact, they’ve even created a program just for webmasters to help insure that your pages get cached in their index as quickly as possible. They call the program Google Sitemaps. In this tool, you’ll also find a great new linking tool to help discover who is linking to your website.
For Google, these two pieces in the top 10 SEO tips would be to read the tutorial entitled How Do I Create a Sitemap File and to create your own.
Effective 11/06, Google, Yahoo!, and Bing will be using one standard for site maps. Below is a snippet of the standard code as listed at Sitemaps.org. Optional fields are lastmod, changefreq, and priority.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod> <changefreq>monthly</changefreq> <priority>0.8</priority> </url> </urlset>
SEO Tip #10: Use Checklists and Validators
There are several ways to validate the accuracy of your website’s source code. The four most important, in my opinion, are validating your search engine optimization, HTML, CSS and insuring that you have no broken links or images.
Start by analyzing broken links. One of the W3C’s Top 10 SEO Tips would be for you to use their tool to validate links. If you have a lot of links on your website, this could take awhile, so I recommend trying Xenu’s Link Sleuth.
Next, revisit the W3C to analyze HTML and CSS. Here is a link to the W3C’s HTML Validation Tool and to their CSS Validation Tool. A new, unbelievable tool just came out that does much better than some of these older ones, and that is the Qualidator Site Analyzer tool, which you can also find listed in our SEO Software page.
The final step in the last of my Top 10 SEO Tips is to validate your search engine optimization. Without having to purchase software, the best online tool I know of for this (now) is my own SEO Roadmap, which contains website-level SEO validation, webpage-level SEO structure and keyword optimization, and off-page SEO strategies you should have in your arsenal. You can also use WebsiteGrader.com and other online tools. However, they aren’t as inclusive (yet) as my Audit Checklist.
Other SEO Tips
If you liked the SEO tips above, you’re going to love our Free SEO eBooks. They are packed full of more tips and tutorials, was well as some great ideas for developing incoming links.