SEO Compliance: Improve Rankings & Avoid Penalties

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March 23, 2016

SEO Best Practices

• Are the keywords you are targeting relevant and popular with searchers?
• Do your page titles lead with your targeted keywords?
• Does your page copy engage users and answer their queries?
• Do you have high quality links pointing to various pages within your site?
• Do you employ links from your home page to your most important secondary pages?
• If you must have graphical navigation, do you use the CSS?
• Does your Web site have an XML Sitemap, as well as an HTML site map with text links?
• Does your site present one and only one version of each important page to the search engines?
• Do the URLs of your dynamic (database driven) pages look simple and static?
• Does your home page and other key pages of your site have sufficient link authority and trust?
• Does your site have an optimized internal linking structure? And a flat directory structure?
• Do your pages have meta descriptions with a compelling call to action?
• Does your site have a custom error page that returns the correct "status code"?
• Does your site load quickly for all browsers?
• Is your site mobile friendly?
• Do you have the correct semantic markup on your pages where appropriate?

SEO Worst Practices
• Primary navigation requires Flash, Java or JavaScript to function
• The website is done in Flash, or overly graphical with very little textual content
• URLs of pages include numerous ampersands
• URLs of pages include session IDs or user IDs
• Unnecessary redirects (e.g. when users hit your home page, enter your site from a search engine, etc.)
• The same content is duplicated across multiple subdomains (e.g. load balancing)
• Content is duplicated across pages within the main subdomain (e.g. www.)
• Content is duplicated across http and https
• Title tags the same on all or most pages
• Pop‐ups with important content are on the site
• Do you have error pages in the search results ("Session expired," etc.)
• The “File Not Found” error page returns a 200 status code
• The site uses "Click here" or other superfluous copy for your anchor text
• The site has superfluous text like "Welcome to" at beginning of your title tags
• You are blocking important pages from the search engines
• Your site has a large numbers of pages with very little meaningful content

SEO Worst Practices: Spamming
• Hidden or small text meant only for the search engines
• Engaging in "keyword stuffing"
• Pages targeted to obviously irrelevant keywords
• Incorporating your competitors' brand names in your meta tags
• Buying expired domains with high link authority scores to use as link targets
• Duplicate pages with minimal or no changes
• Content reads like "spamglish"
• “Doorway pages" on the site
• Machine‐generated copy
• “Pagejacking” / scraping others’ content
• “Cloaking“
• Splogging, comment spamming, guestbook spamming
• Linking to “bad neighborhoods”
• Hiding links
• Unnatural link structures
• Buying links
• Getting links from sites built just for giving links

Mobile SEO

• Google is now degrading sites’ rankings on mobile search if they are not mobile friendly
• Mobile searchers behave differently. Adapt your mobile content to what they want the most
• If your site doesn’t have a large, complex taxonomy, use responsive web design, and use the Vary HTTP header to hint to web caches
and Googlebot about mobile content
• Otherwise have separate sites, and use “bidirectional” tagging with rel=alternate, and rel=canonical to avoid duplicate content, consolidate URLs and help them rank higher in the SERPs
• Make extensive use of diagnostic tools to audit your site and identify potential problems
• Optimize your mobile sites for speed

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