When it comes to SEO there are two main areas to cover:

- content (our own or  user generated)
– popularity this content

For each of those two main areas we can extract at least further 10-20 sub areas. For example when talking about content we have to make sure it is published within a website that meets certain criteria. On the top of that it has to bring a value to people reading it (interesting, original, helpful etc). Main advice, stay on the topic, be engaging. Of course include your keywords, but don’t repeat it over and over. Remember that you are writing for people, not crawlers.

SEO checklist:

– website automatically generates sitemaps

– website is submitted into all search engines

- robots have no blocked entries ( allow *) (or minimum blocked files/folders)

– each post or page has meta entries such as title, keywords and description

– page or post is using permalinks without “/” at the end

– blog or website is using folder structure e.g. domain.com/blog NOT a sub domain e.g. blog.domain.com

– use old domain if you have one rather than registering new one

– content is categorized and have tags

– you have breadcrumbs navigation’s

– post pr page titles are included in H1 tags ( only 1 h1 tag per post/page)

- use alt’s for images and thumbnail images

– include meta inflammations in small font such as date content was published, author, category, tags on each post

– structure and prioritize the page as it if would be a landing page with clear buttons and navigation

– make sure page above the fold has what it supposed to

– use healthy text to links balance (more text above links, don’t avoide cross-linking on your website, just don’t write whole page as 100 links etc)

– include social sharing buttons on each post (asynchronous) (creating convenient content distribution network)

– use on-site search

– add open graph content/images tagging

– run validator on css and html (couple of minor errors will be ok, more than couple might not have direct impact on SEO but will influence the speed as well you reputation)

– optimize & minify images (compression) css and js

– convert icons and common small images into sprites to reduce number of http requests

– make it mobile friendly (whatever you will chose forking or responsive, for simple websites/blogs responsive css will do just fine I think)

– include google analytics code

– include google + author verification (especially for blog)

– allowed ping backs

– use tools to measure number and quality of back links together with Page rank change history and domain page counter

Popularity of your website is basically number of links to your site. But links are not equal. Some are better quality some are worse. Social Mentions (share on Facebook, Twitter etc also links back to your website) are combined into one category. So importance of social mentions can’t go beyond certain level. And also quality of each link is calculated based on incoming/outgoing links to the website which links to your website. For example before Panda/Penguin update many websites were buying links from Farm Links providers. As the name says, those were robots/automated fake’-ish type of website creating links to your website. Now those websites had very little pages linking into them, but massive number of outgoing links. Also links to text ration would be rather bad on those websites. So now you can see why it all matters.

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Just to add, if you can manage to invent something that will allow visitors generate their own content, using the checklist below, you will be sorted. User generated content is really best thing that could happen to your site from SEO perspective. Of course you might question this from PR point of view, especially if we are talking about comments under the brand etc. But hiring 10 content writers, and 10 best influencers in social media still will not be equal as 1 great idea for user content. Examples? Well, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter…should I go on?