CheckList of Best and Worst Practices for Designing a High Traffic Website/Blog

CheckList of Best and Worst Practices for Designing a High Traffic Website

Here is a checklist of the basic components that influence your rankings with Google, Bing, Yahoo! furthermore, the other web indexes. This list contains positive, negative and neutral components that every one of them exist. A large portion of the components in the agenda apply primarily to Google and mostly to Bing, Yahoo! and the various web indexes of lesser significance. On the off chance that you require more data on specific areas of the agenda, you might need to peruse our SEO instructional exercise, which gives more point by point clarifications of Keywords, Links, Meta tags, Visual Extras, and so on.

Best and Worst Practices for Designing a High Traffic Website/Blog

Keywords
1
Keywords in <title> tag
This is one of the most important places to have a keyword
because what is written inside the <title> tag shows in
search results as your page title. The title tag must be short (6
or 7 words at most) and the the keyword must be near the
beginning.
+3
2
Keywords in URL
Keywords in URLs help a lot – e.g. –
http://domainname.com/seo-services.html,
where “SEO services” is the keyword phrase you
attempt to rank well for. But if you don’t have the keywords in
other parts of the document, don’t rely on having them in the
URL.
+3
3
Keyword density in document text
Another very important factor you need to check.
3-7 % for major keywords is best, 1-2 for minor. Keyword density
of over 10% is suspicious and looks more like keyword stuffing,
than a naturally written text.
+3
4
Keywords
in anchor text
Also very important, especially for the
anchor text of inbound links, because if you have the keyword
in the anchor text in a link from another site, this is regarded
as getting a vote from this site not only about your site in
general, but about the keyword in particular.
+3
5
Keywords in headings (<H1>, <H2>, etc.
tags)
One more place where keywords count a lot. But
beware that your page has actual text about the particular
keyword.
+3
6
Keywords in the beginning of a document
Also counts, though not as much as anchor text,
title tag or headings. However, have in mind that the beginning
of a document does not necessarily mean the first paragraph –
for instance if you use tables, the first paragraph of text might
be in the second half of the table.
+2
7
Keywords in <alt> tags
Spiders don’t read images but they do read their
textual descriptions in the <alt> tag, so if you have
images on your page, fill in the <alt> tag with some
keywords about them.
+2
8
Keywords in metatags
Less and less important, especially for Google.
Yahoo! and Bing still rely on them, so if you are optimizing for
Yahoo! or Bing, fill these tags properly. In any case, filling
these tags properly will not hurt, so do it.
+1
9
Keyword proximity
Keyword proximity measures how close in the text
the keywords are. It is best if they are immediately one after
the other (e.g. “dog food”), with no other words
between them. For instance, if you have “dog” in the
first paragraph and “food” in the third paragraph,
this also counts but not as much as having the phrase “dog
food” without any other words in between. Keyword proximity
is applicable for keyword phrases that consist of 2 or more
words.
+1
10
Keyword phrases
In addition to keywords, you can optimize for
keyword phrases that consist of several words – e.g. “SEO
services”. It is best when the keyword phrases you optimize
for are popular ones, so you can get a lot of exact matches of
the search string but sometimes it makes sense to optimize for 2
or 3 separate keywords (“SEO” and “services”)
than for one phrase that might occasionally get an exact match.
+1
11
Secondary keywords
Optimizing for secondary keywords can be a golden
mine because when everybody else is optimizing for the most
popular keywords, there will be less competition (and probably
more hits) for pages that are optimized for the minor words. For
instance, “real estate new jersey” might have
thousand times less hits than “real estate” only but
if you are operating in New Jersey, you will get less but
considerably better targeted traffic.
+1
12
Keyword stemming
For English this is not so much of a factor because
words that stem from the same root (e.g. dog, dogs, doggy, etc.)
are considered related and if you have “dog” on your
page, you will get hits for “dogs” and “doggy”
as well, but for other languages keywords stemming could be an
issue because different words that stem from the same root are
considered as not related and you might need to optimize for all
of them.
+1
13
Synonyms
Optimizing for synonyms of the target keywords, in
addition to the main keywords. This is good for sites in English,
for which search engines are smart enough to use synonyms as
well, when ranking sites but for many other languages synonyms
are not taken into account, when calculating rankings and
relevancy.
+1
14
Keyword Mistypes
Spelling errors are very frequent and if you know
that your target keywords have popular misspellings or
alternative spellings (i.e. Christmas and Xmas), you might be
tempted to optimize for them. Yes, this might get you some more
traffic but having spelling mistakes on your site does not make a
good impression, so you’d better don’t do it, or do it only in
the metatags.
0
15
Keyword dilution
When you are optimizing for an excessive amount of
keywords, especially unrelated ones, this will affect the
performance of all your keywords and even the major ones will be
lost (diluted) in the text.
-2
16
Keyword stuffing
Any artificially inflated keyword density (10% and
over) is keyword stuffing and you risk getting banned from search
engines.
-3
Links – internal, inbound, outbound
17
Anchor text of inbound links
As discussed in the Keywords section, this is one of the most important factors for good rankings. It is best if you have a keyword in the anchor text but even if you don’t, it is still OK. However, don’t use the same anchor text all the time because this is also penalized by Google. Try to use synonyms, keyword stemming, or simply the name of your site instead
+3
18
Origin of inbound links
Besides the anchor text, it is important if the site that links to you is a reputable one or not. Generally sites with greater Google PR are considered reputable. Links from poor sites and link farms can do real harm to you, so avoid them at all costs.
+3
19
Links from similar sites
Generally the more, the better. But the reputation of the sites that link to you is more important than their number. Also important is their anchor text (and its diversity), the lack/presence of keyword(s) in it, the link age, etc.
+3
20
Links from .edu and .gov sites
These links are precious because .edu and .gov
sites are more reputable than .com. .biz, .info, etc. domains.
Additionally, such links are hard to obtain.
+3
21
Number of backlinks
Generally the more, the better. But the reputation
of the sites that link to you is more important than their
number. Also important is their anchor text, is there a keyword
in it, how old are they, etc.
+3
22
Anchor text of internal links
This also matters, though not as much as the anchor
text of inbound links.
+2
23
Around-the-anchor text
The text that is immediately before and after the
anchor text also matters because it further indicates the
relevance of the link – i.e. if the link is artificial or
it naturally flows in the text.
+2
24
Age of inbound links
The older, the better. Getting many new links in a
short time suggests buying them.
+2
25
Links from directories
Could work, though it strongly depends on which directories. Being listed in DMOZ, Yahoo Directory and similar directories is a great boost for your ranking but having tons of links from PR0 directories is useless or even harmful because it can even be regarded as link spamming, if you have hundreds or thousands of such links.
+2
26
Number of outgoing links on the page that links to
you
The fewer, the better for you because this way your
link looks more important.
+1
27
Named anchors
Named anchors (the target place of internal links)
are useful for internal navigation but are also useful for SEO
because you stress additionally that a particular page, paragraph
or text is important. In the code, named anchors look like this:
<A href= “#dogs”>Read about dogs</A> and
“#dogs” is the named anchor.
+1
28
IP address of inbound link
Google denies that they discriminate against links that come from
the same IP address or C class of addresses, so for Google the IP
address can be considered neutral to the weight of inbound links.
However, Bing and Yahoo! may discard links from the same IPs or IP
classes, so it is always better to get links from different IPs.
+1
29
Inbound links from link farms and other suspicious
sites
Presumably, this does not affect you, provided the links are not reciprocal. The idea is that it is beyond your control to define what a link farm links to, so you don’t get penalized when such sites link to you because this is not your fault. However, some recent changes to the Google algorithm suggest the opposite. This is why, you must always stay away from link farms and other suspicious sites or if you see they link to you, contact their webmaster and ask the link to be removed.
0
30
Many outgoing links
Google does not like pages that consists mainly of
links, so you’d better keep them under 100 per page. Having many
outgoing links does not get you any benefits in terms of ranking
and could even make your situation worse.
-1
31
Excessive linking, link spamming
It is bad for your rankings, when you have many
links to/from the same sites (even if it is not a cross- linking
scheme or links to bad neighbors) because it suggests link buying
or at least spamming. In the best case only some of the links are
taken into account for SEO rankings.
-1
32
Outbound links to link farms and other suspicious
sites
Unlike inbound links from link farms and other
suspicious sites, outbound links to bad
neighbors
can drown you. You need periodically to check the
status of the sites you link to because sometimes good sites
become bad neighbors and vice versa.
-3
33
Cross-linking
Cross-linking occurs when site A links to site B,
site B links to site C and site C links back to site A. This is
the simplest example but more complex schemes are possible.
Cross-linking looks like disguised reciprocal link trading and is
penalized.
-3
34
Single pixel links
when you have a link that is a pixel or so wide it
is invisible for humans, so nobody will click on it and it is
obvious that this link is an attempt to manipulate search
engines.
-3
Metatags
35
<Description> metatag
Metatags are becoming less and less important but
if there are metatags that still matter, these are the
<description> and <keywords> ones. Use the
<Description> metatag to write the description of your
site. Besides the fact that metatags still rock on Bing and
Yahoo!, the <Description> metatag has one more advantage –
it sometimes pops in the description of your site in search
results.
+1
36
<Keywords> metatag
The <Keywords> metatag also matters, though
as all metatags it gets almost no attention from Google and some
attention from Bing and Yahoo! Keep the metatag reasonably long –
10 to 20 keywords at most. Don’t stuff the <Keywords> tag
with keywords that you don’t have on the page, this is bad for
your rankings.
+1
37
<Language> metatag
If your site is language-specific, don’t leave this
tag empty. Search engines have more sophisticated ways of
determining the language of a page than relying on the
<language>metatag but they still consider it.
+1
38
<Refresh> metatag
The <Refresh> metatag is one way to redirect
visitors from your site to another. Only do it if you have
recently migrated your site to a new domain and you need to
temporarily redirect visitors. When used for a long time, the
<refresh> metatag is regarded as unethical practice and
this can hurt your ratings. In any case, redirecting through 301
is much better.
-1
Content
39
Unique content
Having more content (relevant content, which is
different from the content on other sites both in wording and
topics) is a real boost for your site’s rankings.
+3
40
Frequency of content change
Frequent changes are favored. It is great when you
constantly add new content but it is not so great when you only
make small updates to existing content.
+3
41
Keywords font size
When a keyword in the document text is in a larger
font size in comparison to other on-page text, this makes it more
noticeable, so therefore it is more important than the rest of
the text. The same applies to headings (<h1>, <h2>,
etc.), which generally are in larger font size than the rest of
the text.
+2
42
Keywords formatting
Bold and italic are another way to emphasize
important words and phrases. However, use bold, italic and larger
font sizes within reason because otherwise you might achieve just
the opposite effect.
+2
43
Age of document
Recent documents (or at least regularly updated
ones) are favored.
+2
44
File size
Generally long pages (i.e. 1,500-2,000 words or more) are not favored, or at least you can achieve better rankings if you have 3 short (500-1,000 words) rather than 1 long page on a given topic, so split long pages into multiple smaller ones. On the other hand, pages with 100-200 words of text or less are also disliked by Google.
+1
45
Content separation
From a marketing point of view content separation
(based on IP, browser type, etc.) might be great but for SEO it
is bad because when you have one URL and differing content,
search engines get confused what the actual content of the page
is.
-2
46
Poor coding and design
Search engines say that they do not want poorly
designed and coded sites, though there are hardly sites that are
banned because of messy code or ugly images but when the design
and/or coding of a site is poor, the site might not be indexable
at all, so in this sense poor code and design can harm you a lot.
-2
47
Illegal Content
Using other people’s copyrighted content without
their permission or using content that promotes legal violations
can get you kicked out of search engines.
-3
48
Invisible text
This is a black hat SEO practice and when spiders
discover that you have text specially for them but not for
humans, don’t be surprised by the penalty.
-3
49
Cloaking
Cloaking is another illegal technique, which
partially involves content separation because spiders see one
page (highly-optimized, of course), and everybody else is
presented with another version of the same page.
-3
50
Doorway pages
Creating pages that aim to trick spiders that your
site is a highly-relevant one when it is not, is another way to
get the kick from search engines.
-3
51
Duplicate content
When you have the same content on several pages on
the site, this will not make your site look larger because the
duplicate
content penalty kicks in. To a lesser degree duplicate
content applies to pages that reside on other sites but obviously
these cases are not always banned – i.e. article
directories or mirror sites do exist and prosper.
-3
Visual Extras and SEO
52
JavaScript
If used wisely, it will not hurt. But if your main
content is displayed through JavaScript, this makes it more
difficult for spiders to follow and if JavaScript code is a mess
and spiders can’t follow it, this will definitely hurt your
ratings.
0
53
Images in text
Having a text-only site is so boring but having
many images and no text is a SEO sin. Always provide in the <alt>
tag a meaningful description of an image but don’t stuff it with
keywords or irrelevant information.
0
54
Podcasts and videos
Podcasts and videos are becoming more and more
popular but as with all non-textual goodies, search engines can’t
read them, so if you don’t have the tapescript of the podcast or
the video, it is as if the podcast or movie is not there because
it will not be indexed by search engines.
0
55
Images instead of text links
Using images instead of text links is bad,
especially when you don’t fill in the <alt> tag. But even
if you fill in the <alt> tag, it is not the same as having
a bold, underlined, 16-pt. link, so use images for navigation
only if this is really vital for the graphic layout of your site.
-1
56
Frames
Frames are very, very bad for SEO. Avoid using them
unless really necessary.
-2
57
Flash
Spiders don’t index the content of Flash movies, so
if you use Flash on your site, don’t forget to give it an
alternative textual description.
-2
58
A Flash home page
Fortunately this epidemic disease seems to have
come to an end. Having a Flash home page (and sometimes whole
sections of your site) and no HTML version, is a SEO suicide.
-3
Domains, URLs, Web Mastery
59
Keyword-rich
URLs and filenames
A very important factor, especially for Yahoo! and
Bing.
+3
60
Site Accessibility
Another fundamental issue, which that is often
neglected. If the site (or separate pages) is unaccessible
because of broken links, 404 errors, password-protected areas and
other similar reasons, then the site simply can’t be indexed.
+3
61
Sitemap
It is great to have a complete and up-to-date
sitemap,
spiders love it, no matter if it is a plain old HTML sitemap or
the special Google sitemap format.
+2
62
Site size
Spiders love large sites, so generally it is the
bigger, the better. However, big sites become user-unfriendly and
difficult to navigate, so sometimes it makes sense to separate a
big site into a couple of smaller ones. On the other hand, there
are hardly sites that are penalized because they are 10,000+
pages, so don’t split your size in pieces only because it is
getting larger and larger.
+2
63
Site age
Similarly to wine, older
sites are respected more. The idea is that an old,
established site is more trustworthy (they have been around and
are here to stay) than a new site that has just poped up and
might soon disappear.
+2
64
Site theme
It is not only keywords in URLs and on page that
matter. The site theme is even more important for good ranking
because when the site fits into one theme, this boosts the
rankings of all its pages that are related to this theme.
+2
65
File Location on Site
File location is important and files that are
located in the root directory or near it tend to rank better than
files that are buried 5 or more levels below.
+1
66
Domains versus subdomains, separate domains
Having a separate domain is better – i.e.
instead of having blablabla.blogspot.com, register a separate
blablabla.com domain.
+1
67
Top-level domains (TLDs)
Not all TLDs are equal. There are TLDs that are
better than others. For instance, the most popular TLD –
.com – is much better than .ws, .biz, or .info domains but
(all equal) nothing beats an old .edu or .org domain.
+1
68
Hyphens in URLs
Hyphens between the words in an URL increase
readability and help with SEO rankings. This applies both to
hyphens in domain names and in the rest of the URL.
+1
69
URL length
Generally doesn’t matter but if it is a very long
URL-s, this starts to look spammy, so avoid having more than 10
words in the URL (3 or 4 for the domain name itself and 6 or 7
for the rest of address is acceptable).
0
70
IP address
Could matter only for shared hosting or when a site
is hosted with a free hosting provider, when the IP or the whole
C-class of IP addresses is blacklisted due to spamming or other
illegal practices.
0
71
Adsense will boost your ranking
Adsense is not related in any way to SEO ranking.
Google will definitely not give you a ranking bonus because of
hosting Adsense ads. Adsense might boost your income but this has
nothing to do with your search rankings.
0
72
Adwords will boost your ranking
Similarly to Adsense, Adwords has nothing to do
with your search rankings. Adwords will bring more traffic to
your site but this will not affect your rankings in whatsoever
way.
0
73
Hosting downtime
Hosting
downtime is directly related to accessibility because if a
site is frequently down, it can’t be indexed. But in practice
this is a factor only if your hosting provider is really
unreliable and has less than 97-98% uptime. Try using a reputed hosting provider such as Hostgator for hosting.
-1
74
Dynamic URLs
Spiders prefer static URLs, though you will see
many dynamic pages on top positions. Long dynamic URLs (over 100
characters) are really bad and in any case you’d better use a
tool to rewrite
dynamic URLs in something more human- and SEO-friendly.
-1
75
Session IDs
This is even worse than dynamic URLs. Don’t use
session IDs for information that you’d like to be indexed by
spiders.
-2
76
Bans in robots.txt
If indexing of a considerable portion of the site
is banned, this is likely to affect the nonbanned part as well
because spiders will come less frequently to a “noindex”
site.
-2
77
Redirects (301 and 302)
When not applied properly, redirects
can hurt a lot – the target page might not open, or worse –
a redirect can be regarded as a black hat technique, when the
visitor is immediately taken to a different page.
-3
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