50 point SEO checklist for 2016

We have written many posts on search engine optimization (SEO). The present post gives a quick list of what to do and what not to do for getting into the top search pages on Google and other search engines.

SEO-friendly actions you should take

  1. Give your site/ blog a good title. Keep the title below 70 characters or at least give the most relevant expression within this limit. 
  2. Also give the blog a relevant, well-written description within 150 characters. It should contain the highlight of the blog. [an article on putting blog description meta tag here]
  3. Give the site an independent domain name, not a sub-domain of a free domain (e.g. abyz.com vs. abyz.blogspot.com). 
  4. Make the URL memorable, short, with an expression that defines your blog (keyword).
  5. Regularly publish original content.
  6. Keep the quality of your posts' writing high. Have well-researched and detailed articles and without grammatical errors.
  7. Write for visitor, not for yourself or the search engine. [why you should not write for search engines]
  8. Write long content, of over 1500 words, at least occasionally.
  9. Give relevant sub-headings to different thoughts, especially in a long post.
  10. If you know how to do it and your blogging platform allows that, use H1, H2 tags for heading and sub-headings. 
  11. Highlight sub-headings by way of bigger font and/or colored text so that they catch the attention of visitors.
  12. Give visual content to support text content: have images, inforgraphics and/or videos.
  13. Give relevant description to individual pages/ posts. [an article on blog post description here]
  14. Don't ignore put a relevant ALT tag on images.
  15. Put keywords in top and bottom parts of text content. But keep them in a way that the keywords look natural. Instead of the same keyword, use synonyms and different ways of saying the same thing.
  16. Use long-tail keywords (two-three word phrases) rather than one-word keywords.
  17. When giving links, use relevant anchor text (the hyperlinked text). It should look natural too.
  18. Give links to useful information on other pages/ posts on your website/ blog. [how linking to old content helps in SEO]
  19. Bring your content to authoritative bloggers on your subject. You can send them email to seek their opinion, or regularly comment on their blogs.
  20. Also give links to authoritative sites when these add value to your own site by giving the visitor additional information, etc. [a detailed article here on the importance of linking and backlinking]
  21. Check broken and dead links and remove them once in a while. [an article on broken links here]
  22. The site should have trust signals: Give your contact details, have an 'about us' page, have customer service page (if relevant): such information tells people and search engines that your site is trust-worthy.
  23. If you want to host the blog independently [e.g. not on Blogger], choose the host wisely as host's quality impacts SEO a lot. [a post on choosing a webhost at this link]
  24. Make sure that your site is not too slow to open. That can happen if the server is slow, the site is heavy or there is not enough internet bandwidth available to the site.
  25. If your blog is hosted on a small server and the server is shared by many sites, make sure that the site is available all the time (over 99.5% uptime) and the site does not hang when there is heavy traffic.
  26. All sites are automatically indexed by major search engines. However, check on Google, Bing and Yahoo if almost all of your site's pages are indexed or not. If not, check for html / crawling errors.
  27. On the blog, have prominent links and buttons for social networking and bookmarking accounts of yours.
  28. Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly, because more and more searches are now carried through mobile phones.
  29. Put a sitemap on the website. It need not be a page visible to visitors.Blogger and Wordpress automatically do that.
  30. Do guest-blogging on other sites/ blogs but only on relevant, reputed, trusted sites. [guest blogging on bad sites is not a good idea, says Google]
  31. Have a subscription widget for email and RSS feed, so that people follow you and get updates on email or through RSS feed.
  32. Tell your friends, relatives and colleagues about your blog.
  33. When publishing a new post, send an email to people who might be interested in that content.
  34. Have your blog's URL and a short description on your visiting card, stationery and other items that you share. Business bloggers can put the URL on carry-bags, advertisements, products, etc.
  35. Engage with others by leaving valuable comments on their blogs and social accounts.
  36. Be on the best forum on your subject, participate, help others, leave your blog URL there (but without it being obtrusive).

Bad SEO actions or tricks that you should avoid

  1. Don't copy-paste others' content.
  2. Do not keep outdated or misleading information on webpages.
  3. Don't write for search engines while ignoring the reader.
  4. Don't put exact keywords or one-word keywords too often, whether in titles or description or article.
  5. Don't put keywords and make them unreadable by hiding them through background coloring etc.
  6. Don't be part of link farms (where you link to others in return for others linking to you).
  7. Don't ask for backlinks.
  8. Don't purchase backlinks.
  9. Avoid having links to spammy, bad sites. 
  10. Don't spend money on an SEO service without being sure of the quality and genuineness of offer.
  11. Don't fall for offers of thousands of followers etc in a few dollars.
  12. Don't waste time on submitting to directories, search engines or pinging, except for a few genuine directories or local/ trade directories.
  13. Don't make duplicate sites. [a detailed article on what to consider while submitting to blog directories]
  14. Don't make websites that have poor content but are there to drive traffic to one particular site.