SEO Resources

White Hat SEO Checklist

SEO is a long-term marketing investment that you need to safeguard. It is important to avoid penalties - do not try to cheat the system.

Quality content

If you are just trying to give a sales-pitch with your website, then you are probably not giving your visitors much value and they won’t stay on your website very long, and your SEO efforts will not be as successful. Some things that do provide value for your visitor includes detailed product information, articles about your industry, frequently asked questions and more. This article is an example of quality content for a search engine optimization company because it is giving general education information for people who are interested in SEO. They can benefit from this information regardless of what SEO company they choose.

XML Sitemap

“True” sitemaps are often confused with creating a web page that has all of the links of your site on it. This NOT an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap lets search engines (especially Google) know what the important information is on your website. It DOES NOT AWAYS include every page on a website. In fact, it shouldn’t because there are usually some page on your site that might not be beneficial to come up in search results, like employee login pages.

Website Age

Google doesn’t want fly-by-night businesses with no established reputation showing up in their search engines. Your website has a track record just like a person. Google giving a brand-new website a top position for a competitive keyword is like making a child the vice president of a company. They just are not going to do it, and it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. The new website needs to grow, stay out of trouble, make good decisions, get good grades, have experience, and get “references” from other websites in the form of inbound links.

Reputation and websites that link to your website

Inbound link credibility is huge and is the original basis for how Google determines what websites will come up at the top of Google. Other search engines like Yahoo or MSN, do not use this method (it’s patented). It is much easier to get a brand-new website to the top of these less popular search engines. The fact is that most people use Google and therefore even if you get to the top of Yahoo, MSN and others, you aren’t going to get very much traffic compared to Google. In other words, you need to have other websites link to your website and you need to make sure they are credible sites that are relevant to the subject of your website.

Natural Traffic

Gererally speaking, getting traffic to your website is noticed by Google and helps your “scorecard” with their search engine and some of the others. So, this means that trffic created by inbound links, non-web advertisements, and other forms of direct traffc all help you. Google has ways that it can see that you are getting traffic. Google can certainly see if immediately if you have Google Analytics set-up and if you are using it in conjunction with Google Webmaster Tools. It’s pretty cool because your non-web marketing efforts can also contribute to your web marketing!

Click-Through Rates

This makes logical sense when you think about it. Let’s pretend for a second that you are the business that owns a search engine. You want to provide the best service you can to people using your search engine. If you have a link that shows up when someone searches for let’s say “shoes” and nobody ever clicks on it, then it why would the search engine keep that link at the top of their search results. If the users of a search engine don’t like a link, then the search engine isn’t going to like it either. Many effective SEO methods are actually very on-par with fundamental practices of good, honest and sensible business practices. Using simple logic and focusing on providing the best experience for the user is the best long-term SEO “trick” that you can do.

Outbound Links

The links on your website should benefit your website visitors. Don’t just go around linking to anybody. In fact, if you link to someone that is not a good business in Google’s opinion, then it will hurt you. Link exchanges can be ok in some cases, but only if having the links on each site are useful to people on each of the websites. Useful and informative is usually what is good for the person on your website. This does not always mean what will help you sell your services.

Title Tags

Back in the late 90′s and early 2000′s when Yahoo and MSN were more popular than Google, the “meta” tags on a website were the biggest factor that affected a ranking on a search engine. Search results also were much worse back then. This is because a brand-new business or even fraudelent companies could just stuff their websites and meta tags with keywords over and over. This created a bad experience for users and search results were filled with websites that users hated. In my opinion, this is why Google became so successful because unlike their predecessors, they focused on the users. Having good meta title tags and description tags are still very important. In my experience, the “keyword” meta tag doesn’t matter as much, if at all. I have optimized websites that have had long-term results that only have meta title tags and do not even have description or keyword tags. Those things are part of the value that search engines should offer. Titles are important. They should be the right length; not too long and not too short. You should also NEVER duplicate title tags anywhere on your website. Google is very clear about their recommendation for this.

Managing Redirects

If you ever decide to remove a page from a site, it’s crucial and really good manners to let search engines know that you removed the page. For Google, you can send removal requests through Google Webmaster Tools. If you are doing SEO, you need to use this. Forget all the tips and tricks you here about, Google openly tells you what to do in order to succeed in their search engine. When you remove a page you also need to make sure that you redirect the address of the page that you removed to another page on your site. Even if you request the removal through Google Webmaster Tools, you still need to at the least create a 301 permanent re-directs to the homepage of your website. If you don’t and that url still comes up in a search result and the user clicks on it, then they will get a 404 error (ie page not found). This is going to make the user have a bad time. If you make the user have a bad time, the search engine is going to make you have a bad time. It’s karma and you always need to remember your manners!

Summary

Particularly for Google, honesty and good manners can get you a long way. If you try to cheat the system and try to make a “quick buck”, you are eventually going to get caught and penalized. This could really hurt your efforts, especially in the long-run. Don’t be an ass-hole. It’s not worth it. Think about giving people want they want. Make it easy to find the information that your users are looking for and make whatever you have to say very interesting and informative. In return, people will appreciate you and be more likely to buy your products and services. Even if they don’t buy from you, they are going to be more likely to refer people to you that will.

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