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Google SEO Checklist

by James Fielding 14. March 2011 08:00

Here's a quick checklist to improve your Google ranking:

  • A great SEO plan starts with choosing the right keywords. Develop a good keyword list for each page that will lead searchers to your site. Two good resources are Google’s Keyword Tool and Microsoft Advertising Intelligence. Both tools are actually for search engine marketing (i.e. Pay-per-Click advertising), but the keyword information they provide is invaluable to SEO, too.

  • Use the keywords list from above to pepper your <title> and <meta name="description"> tags. NOTE: Both these tags should be human-readable descriptive statements; don’t use these as keyword dumping grounds. Don’t use any more than 80 characters in the title tag and 200 characters maximum in the description tag.

  • If you feel you must list keywords in your head section, use the <meta name="keywords"> tag; its SEO usefulness is questionable, but you’re not going to be penalized for it as long as you use a small, targeted list (10 words or less).

  • Moving into the <body> of your document, make sure your page’s one <h1> tag has your most important keywords and use <h2> tags to support your keywords, where appropriate.

  • If you have an existing site, fire up your favourite browser, and do the following search (of course, substituting your site's name) using your targeted search engine:

    This search queries specifically for your site and uses an exclusion filter (“-SITE:”) to remove all indexed results that include the "www." subdomain in your URL. If you get results (which can include URLs in subdomains other than "www."), you may be splitting your hard-earned ranking between URLs. If so, look at canonicalizing your site (using IIS or Apache) to consolidate the URL variations.

  • Make sure that your site and sitemaps are submitted to the main search engine webmaster tools ( Google, Bing and Yahoo), then review and correct errors as they come up. This is really important: 404 (i.e. Page not found) errors, particularly if they are directly off your sitemap, are going to hurt your rankings. Using your server’s URL rewrite engine (IIS or Apache) will really help to redirect these problem pages back to content on your site.

  • Test your HTML markup with the W3C Markup Validation Service page. I’m often surprised by the problems that slip through my web development tools. Fortunately, W3C’s details usually make these problems easy to resolve.

  • Finally, when in doubt, review webmaster guidelines for Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Happy Google SEOing,
James Fielding

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Sciosoft Systems is a Canadian web design & development company based in Muskoka, which is in central Ontario. We provide ASP.NET website & Windows Server application development services to small and medium-sized business, as well as local government and not-for-profit groups. If you have a website project you’d like to discuss, please visit us at

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Web Development | SEO

Comments (3) -

Derrick United States
3/31/2011 6:20:16 AM #

F.Y.I. Google ignores the keyword meta tag.

ScioJim Canada
3/31/2011 8:52:18 AM #

Derrick, you're probably right, which is why I said that the keywords meta tag's "SEO usefulness is questionable". I suppose I could have used stronger language, but I'm not Google; I don't have intimate and immediate details of their search algorithms.

Having said this, there's lots of indications that some search engines use this tag, and whose to say that Google won't restart using it at some point: One thing's for sure, they won't tell you about this change unless you're the guy programming the change in their search algorithm.

BOTTOM LINE: At this moment, there's every indication that the keywords meta tag is not useful for Google ranking, but you can add it without penalty, as long as you keep it short (10 keywords or less).

Foogaro Italy
4/1/2011 8:30:26 AM #

Thanks for sharing, it was really helpful!

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