SEO Cheat Sheet for Businesses

You could hire a dedicated SEO firm to hand all of your website optimization needs, but that might cost you thousands of dollars per month. If you can dedicate just a few hours of time per month to the optimization process, it’s very possible to make the entire SEO process become an internal project instead of something that needs to be outsourced. You don’t even need to have much coding experience to make this happen.

How to Start a Blog

This cheat sheet is going to break down the SEO processes into specific categories and then tasks to complete in each category with specific instructions. If you follow 100% of this cheat sheet, then you’re going to have a 100% optimized site.

Important HTML Elements To Include

1. Your title tag is more important than you might think.
It is important to have every title on your website to be completely unique. A best practice is to keep each title to 80 characters or below as well. How you structure the title is generally unimportant, but you should include one of your primary keywords near the beginning of the title to make it reader relevant.

2. Your meta description tag is more about the reader than the search engine.
Meta description tags are what the search engines use to provide a summary version of the content that will be accessed if a link is clicked. Many of today’s platforms will allow you to successfully input 160 characters into the description, but being below 155 characters is more effective. Use a short paragraph that includes keywords that can be found in the description to encourage clicks. Don’t duplicate descriptions, even if content is similar.

3. Good linking practices will make or break your website.
When you are creating your hyperlinks, it is important to make sure that No Follow links are included for links that are either paid or not trusted. Any questionable link, in fact, should have a No Follow added to it. You can make a link become this way by adding rel=”nofollow” after the actual link. Remember to add relevant anchor texts instead of putting hyperlinks into content that says “click here” or “for more information.”

Know Your HTTP Status Codes

Your website can generate certain status codes that may affect your overall SEO ranking. If you are getting consistent negative HTTP status codes, your ranking will immediately drop because the search engines are seeing less value in what you’ve got to offer. Here are the status codes to keep for reference.

  • 200. This means everything is working just fine.
  • 301. This code is used to permanently redirect one domain to another domain and transfer all accumulated traffic and rankings.
  • 302. This code is a temporary redirect instead of a permanent one. It’s primarily used for page testing.
  • 404. A user couldn’t find the web page for some reason. It could be an internal issue for you or it could be an external issue for the visitor. Custom 404 messages may have a small SEO benefit with targeted longtail keywords.
  • 410. This status code shows up when a page has been completely removed.
  • 500. This occurs when there is a server error.
  • 503. This means that service is unavailable for some reason.

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Get Your URL To Become SEO Friendly

The #1 SEO rule when it comes to making your URL more friendly to the search engines is to keep everything on the same subdomain. If you have a blog, for example, use a structure like this: yourwebsite.com/blog. Avoid using a structure like this: blog.yourwebsite.com. Then you’re ready to approach these additional SEO issues.

1. Canonize your homepage URLs.
People will enter a lot of strange things into the address bar of their preferred browser. Your goal needs to be to make it easy to access your website when some form of your domain is directly typed in as an address. The average person today isn’t going to type in the full web address: http://www.yourwebsite.com. They are going to put in something very basic, like this: http://yourwebsite.com. They probably won’t even put in the http part either.

Plug this little instruction into your canonization structure to allow any valid duplicate homepage URL to access your site. [link href="http://www.yourwebsite.com/"rel="canonical"]

2. Be descriptive within your URL.
Take advantage of the keywords that you are using so that the potential small boosts of a quick search of those specific terms might push your rankings a little higher. Use descriptive keywords in your URL, but beware of duplicate keywords in the same listing. Don’t give subfolders or pages the same names as your domain. Not only does going to a website address like yourwebsite.com/yourwebsite/yourwebsite.html look ridiculous, but it could get you marked for spam.

3. Give your page a solid keyword.
For the average URL, the page is going to be the sixth address term recognized by the search engine. It’s the perfect place to throw in a keyword because there is the potential for added value.

Authorship Still Plays a Role in SEO

If you have people within your company that are widely recognized on the internet today, then you’ve got the chance to take advantage of their influence and have it become part of your ranking score. This can work both ways, however, so be careful about who gets authorship assignments. A negative reputation can very easily drag your rankings down from an optimization standpoint.

1. Make sure your authors for pages and blog posts have an active account on Google Plus.
Having an active profile means you’ll have the ability to link content they’ve created to their profile. In this scenario, everyone wins. The value of the content will also give it a nice optimization boost, so make sure it’s original content instead of scraped or spintax.

2. Have authors link your site to their contributor profile.
This just gives you another added boost and a potential backlink that can increase your overall domain authority.

3. Don’t ignore Google Plus Publisher.
Your business can also benefit from its unique form of authorship that has been made available to it. Make sure that your business or brand has a Google Plus page and then link your website directly to your profile. You are also going to want one of your links to be a direct link to your home page.

Content Has Everything To Do With Value

Gone are the days when keywords could be packed into content and it would allow search engines to notice it. Most content will be penalized today if black hat methods are being used. That means the best thing to focus upon with content right now is value. Don’t worry about including specific keywords into your text. They will show up naturally as your authors are writing and directly associate themselves with the targets and alternatives that you’ve already determined.

1. Write for the reader and not for the search engine.Value today is seen in the quality of your content’s structure more than the inclusion of keywords. Now if you can include specific long tail keywords into your content in a natural way, then by all means do it. Just don’t make it your first priority because it will make the content sound slightly artificial and that’s all it takes for a penalty to be slapped onto your site.

2. Do include natural anchor text points.
The best anchor texts are short descriptions of what people are going to find if they decide to click on the hyperlink. Be as descriptive as possible and if you can include short keywords or small phrases that are related to your website, it will help.

3. The structure of your content matters.
If you are putting in huge blocks of content for people to read, then you might as well be trying to spoon feed a large cardboard box to an infant. It just isn’t going to work and you’ll hear a lot of screaming during the entire process. Use small paragraphs, structured sentences, and avoid the dreaded semi-colon at all costs.

4. Focus on the information first.
Whatever value your authors can provide a reader is what should be the focus of every sentence. If you focus on anything else, then there’s a good chance that the content will be seen as artificial.

Linking Should Be Natural and Relational

Backlinks are the most fertile ground that currently exists in the world of SEO, but it’s also the most dangerous ground to be plowing. If you have any links that look like they were purchased or solicited, then your site is going to be penalized. If you have too many of one type of link and not enough of another, then you might be penalized. In other words, develop relationships first with similar domains in your field of industry and then develop links that are incoming and outgoing in a fairly balanced manner.

1. Ask similar domains about guest writing opportunities.
The most natural way to develop quality links that come back to your site is through guest posts. In return for fresh content, your authors will receive links back to your home site and this will benefit your domain authority over time. Just remember to offer the same opportunities to others in return and make sure you stay within your general industry. If you sell used cars and take a guest blogging spot on a social gaming website, the two don’t match up very well.

2. Never pay for links. Ever.
A paid link is the fastest way to experience what is known as the “Google Slap.” One day you’ll wake up to find that your entire SEO campaign has been kicked out and labeled as invalid. You might even get manual warnings that indicate you’ve developed an artificial network to influence visitors in a negative, unethical manner. Run away as fast as you can from the idea of paying for links.

3. Socialize your website right now..
Linking your content through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites is always a good idea. Organic links form through shares and the chance to go viral is always nice too. Added weight is sometimes given to shared links through social media, so you can’t afford to ignore this part.

Clean Up the Code

If your site isn’t responsive and mobile friendly, then you’re going to lose out on a lot of traffic. Make sure that your site can read what kind of device is accessing the content so that the CSS coding can adjust the website width, picture resolution, and even redirect someone to a more mobile friendly website.

Putting in a responsive design is rather simple. Here are some examples to consider using.


/* Phones */
@media (max-width: 767px) { … }

/* Tablets to Desktops */
@media (min-width: 768px) and (max-width: 992px) { … }

/* Large devices */
@media (min-width: 1200px) { … }

You can also maximize the canonized URLs by having them be able to point to the mobile version of your website if the parameters aren’t met whatsoever by a mobile device. You can do that with just a simple bit of code:

Are You Ready To Start Optimizing Your Website?

It can take a lot of work to get your website optimized when you’re first getting started. If you have thousands of pages thanks to an extensive blogging presence, the task might seem overwhelming. Don’t get stressed out because it’s the value that your site has to offer which makes up the majority of today’s SEO rankings. You can be imperfect in all of these areas [with the exception of paid links, that is] and still wind up with a top ranked website if your value is the best in the niche.

That’s why you should always focus on the user experience above anything else. Don’t focus on creating a website that you love or one that is 100% designed with this SEO cheat sheet in mind. Focus on what your customers will find to be of value, give that to them, and the search engines will reward you for it.

SEO Tips and Cheat Sheet