SEO Checklist: Easy Habits to Boost Page Rank
September 15, 2012
In terms of cost effective website promotion, nothing beats a few easy SEO tune-ups. The goal of any SEO effort is to increase traffic. The most effective ways to do this are difficult and expensive, such as building backlinks, advertising, and having quality content. Below are some easier ways to boost page rank, get traffic, and tighten up your SEO.
- Get your Google+ photo to display is search engine results pages. This neat trick puts a human touch on your articles, and people will be more likely to click your links. To do this, you have to have a rel=”author” tag on your article’s byline, which links to your about page (which must be on the same URL). This author page must link to your Google+ profile, and if your Google+ profile links to your homepage, then the Google software “robots” can form a complete loop, and your picture will display in SERPs. Authors can only do this for one web page, as they only have one Google+ profile. Click here for details on how to do this.
- Do keyword research. A good place to start is by using the Google Keyword Tool, which is a cloud-based app that allows you to analyze which keywords and phrases users are searching for, which keywords would make money, which keywords have high or low competition, and a lot of other useful information. The Google Keyword tool is sometimes criticized, and other products are for sale which might be better, but the Google Keyword Tool is a good place to start. Try to be consistent about being logged into your Google account when using the keyword tool.
- Manage advertisements properly. In-text ads, misleading ads, hover-over-text ads, pop-ups, or other annoying advertisements will penalize you in the search rankings. The best advertisements are for content relevant to your users, and they are clearly marked as advertisements. Ads on high ranking pages almost always have a buffer margin on all sides.
- Use good titles for your images. The best titles will describe every important aspect of the image. People searching for similar images will be driven to your website, which directly increases your traffic. Be aware that human users can see image titles, so make an effort to tend toward proper grammar. Titles will usually display if a user hovers over an image with their mouse. Captions for images are different, and aren’t always even appropriate, but titles should be used for every image.
- Use plenty of tags. Tags are listed keywords associated with your article. Your title should have all of the important keywords for the article, but it’s good to repeat them in the article’s tags, and also add a few more. For example, if you mention a person’s name in the article, use that person’s surname as one of the tags. There’s no page rank penalty for using tags, so err on the side of including many. The only upper limit on the number of tags you should use is that for most blog formats, human users can see the tags at the end of the article, and if the article has a zillion tags, it might look amateur-ish. If you can’t think of good tags, type the title of your article into the Google Keyword Tool and use some low-competition phrases that accurately describe your article.
- Always write an intriguing description for your article. The “description” feature is available as a plug in for WordPress called “All In One SEO Pack,” and this plug in gives you a straightforward dialogue box where you can write a description. This description will show up in search engine results, social media previews, and in many other formats. There is a 160 character limit on descriptions.
- Keyword density. It’s good to remember this, but keyword density isn’t as important as most people say it is. Search engines know that an article about how to fix a car part won’t necessarily have the word “car” littering the article, just as doctors don’t constantly say the word “surgery” while performing surgery. Having high keyword density won’t necessarily hurt page rank, but it may dilute content and drive away traffic.
- Write a good title. While it’s true that high ranking titles often show a list like top 5 this, or 7 best that, it would be wrong to say that a good title necessarily has this feature. Good article titles are concise, clear, and to the point. If you can muster any ounce of humor, put it in the title. The title is about half the importance of the entire article. Search engines don’t seem to like titles longer than 60 characters. Keep in mind that titles are sometimes formatted into all caps. Good titles often have a colon (the : symbol), separating non-grammatical keyword density from a more colloquial or humorous phrase or sentence.
- Mind your URL. Keywords in the local URL for your post or page are relevant to page rank. It is a good strategy to use the title of your article as your URL suffix, which gives human users an idea of the link content before they open the page in a browser. If you use a pattern on URL suffixes, just stick to it. For example, the Economist Magazine assigns a unique number to each article, such as “economist.com/node/91443932.” In these instances, search engines do not penalize, and simply default into using other features to guide relevancy, such as title, tags, etc.
- Show related posts at the end of each article. This will drive your bounce rate down, which means that users will be clicking to other pages on your domain before leaving, rather than seeing only one page and then leaving. Related posts should include the primary picture from the post, the title, and potentially the description. There are usually plugins that allow this; for WordPress, YARPP and Linkwithin work.
These are all actionable steps (requiring little or no money, only a bit of time) that will make a big difference on page rank. This is what we call SEO.
In the end, the best way to make a good blog is to have the best content. This is difficult, but if you’re talented, it will come easily. SEO is more of a tightening of the screws and dusting of the countertops than something that makes a website.
Making friends, networking, and doing legwork in the real world is also a good way to boost traffic.