To ensure that all your other on- and off-site internet marketing efforts generate the best possible results, guarantee your website is search engine compatible by following these seven golden rules:
1. Determine your keywords
Assign two, two-word key phrases to every page in your website, without exception.
2. Perfect your page titles
Structure your meta page titles as 'key phrase one | key phrase two' and spell check them thoroughly.
3. Improve your chances with page descriptions
It may seem daunting but writing a simple paragraph, adding verbs to your keyword nouns, for your meta descriptions will improve the impact of your page titles. Don’t get too conversational in them, just stick to statements about what you do.
4. Keyword your headlines and copy
Make sure that the keyword phrases in your page titles feature in the headlines and early paragraphs of your pages. Don’t overdo it, keyword stuffing is bad for business, but search engines and visitors expect to see content related to the page title, so show them early on that it is.
5.Ensure your site can be crawled
If you are using a content management system, double check that is not set to prevent search engines from indexing your site. Often this setting is used during the development and testing of the website. If it is left on, all your other efforts will be in vain.
If you are not using a CMS, check your robots.txt file (normally located at www.yourwebsitename.com/robots.txt) and at least make sure it does not include:
User-agent: * Disallow: /
6. Do simple search engine compatibility tests
These checks will highlight any major problems:
Google your company name - You should be the top result with no ads displayed. If your site has been live for a while you should have some internal page links below the main result.
Click 'More results from [your company name]' or search 'site:[www.yourwebsitename.com]' - you should get a result showing the majority of your website's pages as they have been indexed by Google.
Check key pages using long tail searches - search using a long string from your desired page in "quotation marks" and the search engine should show you its results for that exact page.
If any of these tests reveal a problem, refer to an expert or pick up a copy of the book I recommend at the end of this post.
7. Set up 301 redirects
Whenever you make any changes to the location of information within your site you can assume it will generate 404 errors for search engine crawlers and some visitors. Every time you make a change, make it a habit to add a new 301 redirect rule to your htaccess file so that search engines know where the content is now located.
Follow these golden rules and you should be able avoid the most common, and most damaging, SEO mistakes.