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SEO Best Practices

Here is a list of factors which increase ranking in SERPs:

  • Keywords: very important in the title tag. The first words of the title are weighted more than later words, and keyword stuffing is dissuaded. Keywords in the body of the page will back up the title keywords. Do not forget that the algorithms take semantic analysis into account, so the body text should be discussing the main themes, not just listing keywords.
  • Anchor texts: the text that appears as the link which people click is very important. This is true for both outgoing links and incoming. Make good use of this, and avoid low-value anchor texts like 'Read more' and 'Click here'. Anchor texts should best be thematically related to the title keywords. SEO practitioners place great importance on encouraging incoming backlinks containing keyword rich anchor texts.
  • Global Site Link Authority: a metric assessing the overall site link popularity and relevance within its online community. Use a tool like to measure the page links and authority to a site's homepage. However, just increasing the raw number of incoming links is not as beneficial as ensuring a high proportion of these come from sites which themselves have good standing in terms of authority and global link popularity.
  • The right domain name. This is an important indicator for search engines, and a powerful marketing item for human customers (to remember and pass on). The fact that some brands (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) have been successful is more despite their strange name than because of it. A solid, reputable company should have a unique name that will not find ambiguity in search results. The TLD (top level domain) .com does not provide extra help for a strongly localised business. Google will give preference to activities which it associates with local clientele (such as mainstreet shops) and to domains with localised ccTLDs (country code top level domain). Geolocation is important and the domain name reflects this.
  • Do's

    • Good structures are shallow
    • Design the site so that it is as shallow as possible without ceding too much utility. Ensure the linking structure in both directions is clear and logical and theme specific throughout.

    • site:domain check
    • Run a series of test searches on all the search engines, prefixing the query with a specific domain restrictor. e.g. to test the number of pages of indexed, enter into the query field. Compare this to the actual number to identify whether there are any unintentional deadends created by the meta tag robots' 'nofollow' and 'noindex'.

    • Keyword checklist
    • As the site develops regularly check the distribution of keywords against the list created in brainstorming. Make sure that a single page is strategically focused on only one keyword, and that two pages do not target the same keyword.

    • Unique content
    • Check for duplicate content. If the same content, or very similar, must appear, make sure only one is index allowed. Check by searching for full strings within double quotes.

    • Canonical redirects
    • Non www prefixed URLs should be 301 redirected to the www. version, or vice-versa.

    • Descriptive URLs
    • Short, concise and easily understood navigation through keyword rich URLs, rather than dynamically generated IDs, etc.

    • Title tag check
    • Make sure all pages have a unique title which describes in real words the unique content of the page. The closer to the start of the title tag the keywords appear the better for ranking benefit. Titles should not be more than 70 characters long.

    • Content balance
    • Make sure important pages have enough content, and make use of header tags (h1, h2, etc.). Don't put main content too deep down in the hierarchy.


    • Dynamic URLs
    • Do not use use session IDs or other coded information in the URL. This is a typical problem caused by template CMS's. The URL is an important guide for navigation for both the human user and the search engine spider. It should be short, and contain no more than two or three keywords in order of hierarchical importance.

    • Non-HTML links
    • Do not use links generated in such a way that it does not appear in the HTML source code of the page. If a link is generated by JavaScript, Flash, or some other means, it will be invisible to search engines.

    • Screened content
    • Do not prevent spiders from crawling over your content. A form that needs submission (such as a user log-in), to allow content to be viewed, is effectively hiding that content from the search engines. Consider this while deciding on the site's information architecture.

    • 302 redirects
    • Do not use 302 redirects, which pass no link juice. Use 301 (permanent) redirects to ensure the value of the linked content is transferred to the new URL. Again, this is a disadvantage of templates which have such things hard-wired into them, and do not allow users to change them to SEO-friendly options.

    • Keyword stuffing
    • The practice of pushing keywords in at every opportunity more usually than not weakens the overall structure of the site. Search engines are looking for semantic associations between text and titles and links. Too many keywords on a page confuse both humans and spiders.

    • Poor quality external linking
    • Do not link to any site that is not useful to your visitors. Link only to quality, relevant sites. In link-building, quality outranks quantity by several orders of magnitude.

    • Duplicate content
    • Do not cannibalize your own link juice by confusing search engines and users regarding which document is the authentic original. Make sure all content is unique and you own the copyright or have permission to use it. If the same content must appear in two places, make sure the 'no follow' and 'no index' options on the 'borrower' are in place.

    Marketing Objectives

    SEO is an integral part of a company's overall marketing strategy. It can support this strategy in the following ways:

    Customer expectations and supply of demand

    There are many tools available to the SEO practitioner for analysing how people interact with search engines. Searches generally fit one of three categories: navigational, informational and transactional.

    Even strictly transactional queries probably result from some degree of informational research beforehand. Searches are seldom well-targeted initially, but become gradually so as the users become more focused on their objective. They therefore pass through various stages of more and more specific search queries.

    The products a site is selling can therefore be accessed through direct and indirect traffic. A successful keyword campaign will identify both types of query, and attempt to catch traffic which did not request the most obvious keyword. This indirect traffic is known as 'the long tail'.

    Long tail
    Long tail queries account for about 70% of all queries on any given topic

    For example, a language school would benefit from indirect traffic which was querying holidays in a foreign country. Knowing which nations traditionally send more tourists for their holidays in the target country, and something about the people's interest in learning the language of the target country, will be useful in choosing the placing of keywords for catching the eye of people who were searching for something different.

    Branding and market visibility

    Implicit endorsement: when potential customers see the returns in the SERP for their enquiry, they assume the highest ranked sites are the most reliable and relevant sites available on the internet. The fact that they may be browsing with personalized settings, by language and geolocation, is generally not appreciated.

    It is therefore vital that organizations serious about their perceived public profile pay due attention to maximising their organic search rankings. This is irrespective of corporate policy regarding traditional marketing approaches. Marketing managers often feel more comfortable with paid advertising, because it more easily fits their previous experience and financial calculations regarding cost-benefits.

    SEO practitioners will make a list of important terms most associated with the website, and work to ensure their website ranks as well as possible for those terms. In cases where a keyword has too much competition (e.g. hotel, flights) to hope for first SERP ranking every time, this will be important information for broader strategic site design and promotion. One standard way to circumnavigate deficits in organic keyword effectiveness is to switch focus to gaining endorsement through links, using the company name as the anchor text, on other sites which have recognised authority in the same or related field.

    Long term ROI

    Vive le ROI! as the French have (at times) proclaimed.

    The fact that SEO is both a guide to sound online marketing strategies, and provides permanent benefits in branding and sales traffic acquisition, makes SEO not only a viable alternative to short-term and more expensive PPC campaigns, but potentially far superior in terms of ROI.


    The planning of a site should involve a research programme to identify what sort of competition there is, and an analysis of their strategies. This can be done in comparing keyword targeting performance and link distribution. As always, when there is serious competition it is best to focus on differentiating rather than imitating. The strengths and weaknesses of the competition can help in formulating an effective SEO strategy.

    Target Audience

    All players in the site development process, which include all members of the marketing team, need to agree on the common ground: who the target audience is, and how well the message being presented through the site satisfies the needs of this target audience. SEO practitioners may find the pre-existing marketing guidelines in this respect are perfectly adequate for their purposes as well.

    SEO can also provide valuable data to the marketing team. The target audience can be classified and tracked by various metrics, such as location, language preference, percentage of return visits, degree of conversion (actions which lead to a sale, sign-up or other objective). A site that requires user log-in can gain a wealth of marketing information useful to the company.

    The message the company is giving out at all levels, whether direct advertising or press releases, should be mirrored in the content, external link strategy, and keyword design. This message should be consistent, concise and relevant to the core business, which leads logically to the objectives the site has set for the target audience.

    Naturally, the process is iterative as well as multidisciplinary. Continuous feedback is essential to judge whether strategies are effective. New products and changes in policies and corporate strategies will need to be incorporated in good time, and not as a last-minute afterthought to the event. SEO consultants will inevitably end up teaching SEO basics to their marketing, product development and advertising counterparts, and will need to liaise regularly with the top level strategists.

    The main players in the online marketing business are:


    These are site managers. Advertising is most likely a minor income earner, since very high traffic flows are required to obtain significant advertising income. Unless a site has a 'captive audience', it is unlikely to achieve high rates if the purpose is advertising income, and not core content.

    'Captive audience' is our term for traffic which is obliged to use the site. These might be students and staff of educational institutions, employees and clients of large companies, or monopolies of internet software and services who enjoy a dominating role within the operating system and software update leagues.

    Given that indiscriminate and tasteless, distracting advertising will have a detrimental effect on user experience quality, publishers need to evaluate advertising within the context of an overall marketing and corporate image maintenance.

    Target Audience

    Probably the most significant advantage of online advertising is the ability to identify and log/track users individually. This is not possible with traditional media, such as newspapers and TV, whose users are exposed to every ad whether it is targeted to them or not.

    Paid search results, as opposed to organic returns to SERPs, therefore target site promotions according to the searchers' keywords while they search. Viewers of a site may receive a cookie, which can be used to further fine-tune the targeting of advertising, on both search engine interfaces and on sites using the AdSense system.

    Affiliate Network

    The equivalent of the traditional advertising agency, the affiliates are the middlemen between advertisers and publishers. Affiliates allow advertisers to select parameters, such as keywords and themes, and offer them options for advertising types (in order of decreasing conversion rates): PPI (pay per impression), PPC (pay per click), or CPA (cost per action).


    Pay per Impression, or CPI (cost per impression), or CPM (cost pro mille). A simple pro rata payment scheme, where advertisers pay a fixed amount for a number of views, known as impressions. A typical rate is $5 per thousand impressions.


    Pay per Click, or CPC (cost per click). If the publisher and affiliate can guarantee that prominent ads are relevant to the content subject and target audience, then an effective way to advertise is to pay only if the visitor actually clicks through on the ad. With this form of advertising, the publisher needs to ensure the relevance of the ad, otherwise he is permitting impressions for third parties that pay him nothing.


    Cost per Action, or PPS (pay per sale or lead). The advertiser pays only if the appearance of the ad, and subsequent click-through actually leads to a sale or other action, such as a sign-up/subscription. Again, the publisher will be concerned that he is not providing free impressions, so will want to verify the legitimacy of the advertiser's product and set-up. Large, well-known brands are more likely to be accepted for this type of advertising.

    Content © Renewable.Media. All rights reserved. Created : September 11, 2014 Last updated :March 7, 2016

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