Here are some of the useful search engine optimization tips. These tips are based on practical experience. I’ am trying to include all that are basic and must for a site optimization and looking for suggestions from SEO professionals to make this list richer by adding their SEO suggestions.
1) Keyword Research: If you already have a site with analytics installed, start searching for the top keywords and keyphrases that users have actually used to reach to your site. You will get some irrelevant keywords too, just ignore them and focus on the targeted keywords. Make your keyword list richer using Google keyword tool and Google Trends. Settle for a set of 10 keyphrases and 10 keywords at first phase and once you have achieved them keep on adding to your list.
2) Build Content: Based on your keyword research, start building your content. Content should be unique. Try to build about 100 content rich page at first phase with keyword rich content of at least 200-250 words.
3) Keyword Density: Do not over stuff your content with keywords. Keep your keyword density to 5-7%. But don’t get panic if you find it exceeding this. If it is in relevance to your site content it is fine even if it is as high as 11% or 12% . But if you are manipulating the content just for the sake of stuffing keywords, you can be penalized.
4) Write your Metas: Title tag and Description tag is important for Google but some major search engines also consider keyword tags. Have unique Meta tags for each page. A short title of around 50 characters, a good description of around 150 characters is enough so don’t overdo your Metas.
5) Coding of your Page: Instruct your designer or developer to keep the page size as low as below 15 kb. Java scripts and flash simply may negatively affect your optimization efforts. Keeping your page size low and free of flash and java script will help spiders to index your pages faster.
6) Use Alt Tags for Images: Spiders do not read or recognize images. It is important to have Alt tags for all your images. Overdoing ALT tags with keywords is a bad practice, just use one or two keywords relevant to page and your image as ALT tag.
7) IP Address: Using shared hosting is fine, but make sure you have a dedicated IP.
8) Canonical Issues: Make sure your site opens up with only one domain name. http://example.com , http://www.example.com or http://example.com/index.php are all unique URL for search engine displaying similar content. Make sure your sites open up only with , http://www.example.com . Use 301 code to redirect all your URLs.
9) Kyewords in URLs: Definitely make sense when you have just one keyphrase/keyword with relevant page title and content. But overdoing it is a bad idea.
10) Underscore Vs Hyphen: Matt Cutts recommend to use dashes instead of underscore, so why debating on this issue when recommendation has come directly from the most authentic source on search engine optimization.
11) Incoming Links: These works as a vote for your site but remember these votes are counted by search engine only when it has been cast by relevant site, i.e. sites relevant to your content. Reciprocal links are discouraged, at least by Google, so don’t try that. Quality counts here so don’t worry for quantity.
12) Directory Submission: Yes go for all major directories, Google, Yahoo, Bing and ODPs. Trust manual submission and simply ignore ads by automated software. Go only for relevant directories. You will be wasting time if you are going for junk directories or directories that ask for reciprocal links.
13) Analytics: The first thing you should do everyday is to spend at least an hour on your analytics. This will help you to understand the user behavior, top keywords, pages that needs improvement and lot many other interesting facts. The more you spend time on your analytics the more focused will be your efforts towards optimization.
14) SiteMaps: Must have an XML Sitemap for spiders and a plain HTML Sitemap for your users. If you have big site with large number of pages break your Sitemaps into groups. This will increase the rate of indexing.
15) Black Hat SEO Practices: Strictly NO. Using same color background and text, over stuffing you Metas, keyword in content, reciprocal links, paid links are all black hat SEO strategy.
16) Chasing Page Rank: Page Rank is important but you will gain advantage of this when high PR site relevant to your content links back to you. Getting links from high PR site that is completely irrelevant to your is simply of no use. Search engines do not give any weight to this so why should you chase high PR sites.
17) Validate Your Code: Your page should be clean and error free in terms of coding. There are various tools that can be used to validate your code. Also check your webmaster account as some of the very important errors are shown there. Try to resolve all errors from each page.
18) Feed Your Site With Fresh Content: A new page a day is ideal and would actually loved by search engines. But it is fine even if you do this exercise on regular basis. But don’t make your site content look stale every time search spiders visit it.
19) Domain Name: Don’t go crazy searching for a keyword rich domain name. The biggest search engine giant is not search engine.com rather it is Google.com. Branding is important, keyword rich domain is obsolete.
20) Loading Time: This may not have direct impact on your optimization efforts. But yes you will be loosing 100s of audiences every 10 seconds, if your sites load time is more than 10 seconds. It works for search engines, and it works for surfers. Remember, 80% of your surfers will be at 56k or even less.
21) Outbound Links: From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).
22) Insite Cross links: Link pages on your site with each other wherever you find opportunity to do so. This will help all your pages to be visible on search engine result page. You want 50 pages that produce 1 referral each a day and do NOT want 1 page that produces 50 referrals a day.