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Optimization Checklist for New Sites

seo checklistBuilding a site without performing any SEO tasks such as on-page and off-page optimization is a thing of the past. Years ago, it was easy to rank a site by simply building it. There was hardly any competition and getting your site on the first page of a search engine was a breeze. These days things have changed drastically! Not only is there quadruple the amount of sites competing for website visitors, but there are hundreds of thousands of sites being created every single day. If every person on earth had a website, imagine how much competition there would be. Well, that’s where the internet is headed compared to past years. So, in order to be one step ahead in internet marketing it is necessary to make sure your website is optimized for search engines, social media and visitors.

What factors impact search rankings?

There are many factors that will determine where your site will rank on Yahoo, Google, Bing and more. We will focus on the basics which include keywords, content and backlinks. Once these items are improved, pinpoint other areas of your site that could use some improvements.

Seo Checklist for New Sites

Keywords
Keywords – Research:
Once you have the main idea and theme of your site, start keyword research using online tools to find long-tail keywords that have low competition. Focus on 1 primary keyword per page, then try ranking for secondary words.

Keywords – Title Meta Tag:
Include your primary keyword in your Title tag. Search engines grab the information placed in this tag and use it to display the title of your page in search results.

Keywords – Permalinks:
If possible, include the primary keyword of each page in the permalink structure. This tells search engines your page title is relevant to the theme of the page. Example http://yoursite.com/primary-keyword/

Keywords – Heading Tags:
H1, H2 & H3 tags give more importance to text than all other text on the page. It stands out like a sore thumb to visitors and search crawlers view them as important text as well. They also place importance on text within bold, italic and underlined text. Anything that stands out will grab their attention.

Keywords – Image alt Tags:
Crawlers cannot scan images, however many people do not know that they do scan the ALT tags of an image. If you have any pics on your pages, make sure to include the ALT tag.

Keywords – In Content:
Include your keywords at the beginning of your first paragraph. Another great place would be at the end of your last paragraph. When a crawler scans your written content, they will notice your primary keywords when they enter and when they exit the page.

Keywords – Anchor Text:
Each time you create an inbound or internal link to your pages, make sure you use relevant keywords as anchor text. This has to be one of the biggest factors of ranking a page.

Keywords – Density:
Keyword stuffing can look very unnatural to both humans and search crawlers. Just write your content in a natural manner and avoid repeating the same words over and over if it causes sentences make no sense.

Content
Content – Unique and Engaging:
Write your content by talking out loud as if you were actually talking to someone. This will help you write in a natural, flowing way. This will also keep your visitors happy and search crawlers satisfied. When a visitor reads something that makes no sense, they will leave and never return. Fortunately search engines can be a little more forgiving and will give you a second chance to correct your mistakes.

Content – Update Often:
While search engines can appreciate aged content, they also love freshly updated content. Make sure to update your pages often.

Content – Relevant:
Keep everything on-topic. Write articles about the primary keywords you used in your title meta tag and permalink. Relevancy is another big factor search engines use to determine a sites rank.

Content – Heading Tags and Larger Fonts:
Again, heading tags should contain your main keywords. You can also use larger fonts if you do not like using H1, H2 & H3 tags. Larger fonts stick out the same way.

Backlinks

Backlinks – Inbound
Inbound links play a huge role in determining where your pages will rank on Google, Yahoo and Bing. If a popular website places your link as an important resource to visit on their pages, you get an A+ vote. The more reputable sites that link to yours will improve your score even more. And don’t discount the smaller sites that link back. You might get an A or B+ vote from them. Focus on the quality of backlinks and the quantity will build over time naturally.

Backlinks – Outbound
Link to useful resources that are relevant to your content. If you cannot find a useful resource, Wikipedia always has great content to link to. Be sure that you do not link to D-List sites. This activity will hurt your rankings.

Backlinks – Internal
Setup an internal linking structure within your content along with menus and xml sitemaps. This makes it easier for users and search crawlers to navigate your site. It also helps your pages get indexed faster.

Backlinks – Anchor Text
Use keywords when creating backlinks anchor text. Using terms such as “click here” or “read more” does not help you SEO wise. Try to create as many “in-content” links, with text before and after your anchor, as you can. Regular backlinks are fine, but “in-content” links provide more “link-juice”.

Backlinks – Link Building
Building backlinks is something that will not happen overnight. In fact, if it does happen overnight then chances are your site will hit the nasty sandbox of doom and it will take months to get it out. If search engines think you are trying to manipulate their ranking formula, they put a stop to it real quick. So the best way to evade the sandbox is to build links over a length of time and NOT all in one night.

These are just some basic factors that will be used to determine where your site will rank in search engine listings. Once you complete this SEO checklist, move onto the harder ranking factors.

Resources:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/an-seo-checklist-for-new-sites-whiteboard-friday

http://blog.ineedhits.com/tips-advice/ultimate-seo-checklist-for-new-websites-125010256.html

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