SEO is one of the most technical and important activity in the field of digital marketing. While most beginners hestitate to do SEO, it is a must if you are looking to improve the ranking of your website and expecting visitors to your site. SEO is not a Greek language, it is rather very easy to get started and implement the basics. The rest depends on your knack and determination.

After being self-taught in the field SEO and training so many digital marketers the feat of doing SEO, I felt like there should be a SEO 101 for all Digital Marketers, hence this lengthy piece of content.

This content currently misses a lot of details, which I am going to update from time to time. Hopefully, at a later point of time, this post will become your go-to SEO guide.

Let’s get started with SEO 101

  1. SEO is a must for your website – You need to optimize your website for the search engines for appearing in the first page of search engines. It will not happen automatically.
  2. SEO requires dedication – One or two months of SEO might help you improve your search engine rankings for a few keywords. But, if you stop doing SEO, your ranking will fall because your competitors have not stopped. All your past efforts will go to waste. You need to do SEO as an on-going activity, its requires dedicated attention.
  3. Follow all the Google algorithms – It will give you faster and better results. Obeying the algorithms will also prevent falling into traps and getting penalized by Google.
  4. Always start with SEO Audit – You always need to start SEO with an audit of your website. Apart from the meta tags, a lot of technical factors like website speed, mobile responsiveness, security, etc. have an effect on search rankings. So fix them all for better results.
  5. You need both On-Page and Off-Page SEO – Apart from what you do on the website like adding meta tags, introducing keywords, writing good content and stuff, you also need to focus on external factors. You need to develop links to your site, get your brand mentioned in website with higher authority than yours, and generate social media buzz.
  6. Get rid of broken links – Broken links on a site can lead to 404 errors which are not appreciative at all. Fix them before Google starts finding them.
  7. Create a Google Webmaster Account – Submit your website in Google Webmaster. Also known as Search Console, it helps you quicken the indexing of your webpages by the search engine. Search Console also shows such as keywords for which your site appeared in search, links that are pointing to your site, website page speed, and schema checks to name a few.
  8. Create a Google Analytics Account – Configure Google Analytics on website to get all the insights about website traffic, source of traffic and user behavior for absolutely free. You might use a paid analytics system but Google Analytics gives your more than enough data for you to feed your marketing team.
  9. Define your SEO objectives – Knowing the reason why you want SEO helps a lot. Are you interested in just raw website traffic, or brand visibility, or want to earn money from AdSense, or something else? It helps a lot if your SEO objectives are defined right at the beginning.
  10. Every SEO plan is custom – SEO is not a one size fits all program. Organizations should take into account many factors while pursuing an SEO strategy.
  11. Understand the intent of the visitor’s query – Is your website answering the intent of a search query? Put yourself in the customer’s shoe and ask yourself what do want in the website for your requirement. Once you have the answer create the content likewise.
  12. SEO should fit into your revenue model – How SEO generates business for you has to be always kept in mind. What percentage of your revenue will be generated from SEO activities?
  13. Decide your target audience – SEO can be broad at times; at times it can be used for niche audience; you need to decide your target audience before you get started with your SEO activities.
  14. Content is still the King – Fuel your SEO with good quality original content and see the magic. Your rankings will soar.
  15. Update Frequently – Update your website frequently to improve your search rankings.
  16. Map your Products & Services with SEO – Successful SEO requires a thorough understanding of the business itself. What products, services, and types of information and resources does your organization have to offer?
  17. Choose your technology correctly – Dynamic URLs, session IDs and superfluous flags are a strict No for SEO. Also avoid Flash files if you want better rankings.
  18. Internal Linking – Cross link your internal content to pass PageRank. This can also drive traffic to your older posts.
  19. Use anchor text – Use keyword optimized anchor text for internal and external linking.
  20. Minimize link depth – Your most important pages in the website should be reachable from the Home page with minimum clicks.
  21. Avoid duplicate content – Be original, you don’t need to duplicate the same content across pages to fill empty space. Write only that you have and that is relevant.
  22. Avoid keyword cannibalization – Do you target multiple pages with the same keyword? Often done unintentionally, this can lead to a lot lost traffic when both your targeted webpages rank in the search engine for the same keyword. The user naturally clicks on one ignoring the other, and if the less important content ranks higher you might lose a conversion.
  23. Fix your hosting issues – You don’t want to lose a customer due to a slow website or a server downtime. So, tune up your hosting servers and make sure it is quick and performing at its optimum potential.
  24. Review your competitors – Review your competitor website and check for keywords, content, and backlinks. Do not copy them but understand their strategies.
  25. Use relevant keywords – It is not about getting visitors to your website, but about getting the right kind of visitors.
  26. Find keywords your competitors are ranking for – Your competitors are already ranking for some keywords. Identify them, and create better content than them around those keywords.
  27. Target long tail keywords – Try to rank your website for long tail keywords for higher probability of conversion.
  28. Use Google Keyword Tool – Google Keyword Tool gives you an estimated search volume for the keywords that you enter, along with the competition and cost. It also suggests you a whole lot of relevant keywords.
  29. Use Google Trends – Google Trends tells whether the keyword is increasing or decreasing in popularity.
  30. Link to all pages – Make sure all your pages in the website are linked. Any page that is not linked to from any other page will not be discovered by the search engine.
  31. Use No-index tag properly – No index tag stops the search engine bot from indexing a page. Use it carefully or you might wonder why your good piece of content is not getting any traffic.
  32. 301 redirect – Check the links which do not exist anymore and is showing a 404 error from your Search Console and do a 301 permanent redirect to a relevant page in your website. This will also pass the PageRank.
  33. Use robots.txt – Add robots.txt file in your website to disallow indexing of pages that are not relevant and you do not want to show in SERP.
  34. Google PageSpeed Insights – Test your website speed and find out the reasons why your site is slow, so that you can fix them as early as possible.
  35. Add an XML sitemap – Using the Sitemaps protocol you can supply the search engines with a list of all the pages you would like them to crawl and index. Adding a URL to a Sitemap file does not guarantee that it will be crawled or indexed. However, it can result in pages that are not otherwise discovered or indexed by the search engines getting crawled and indexed.
  36. Add an HTML sitemap – Since XML sitemaps are mostly for SEO purpose, a site should also have an HTML sitemap so that the user can navigate easily to the pages they want.
  37. Include Keyword in URL – Keep your URL short and include keywords in the URL.
  38. Avoid Underscore, use Hyphen – Use hyphens to separate words in the URL.
  39. Add unique Title tag for every page – Incorporate unique Title tag with relevant keyword phrases for every page. Keep it within 60-70 characters including space.
  40. Setup Google My Business – To rank better for local keywords Google My Business is a good option to build trust.
  41. Start Title Tags with Keywords – Placing the keyword in the beginning of the Title tag improves ranking.
  42. Use Title Tag Modifiers – Using modifiers like “best”, “top”, “list”, “guide”, etc. in the Title tag increases CTR.
  43. Add unique Meta description tags for every page – Meta description tags are no more ranking factors in Google but yet it makes a great impact in click-through-rate.
  44. Use keywords in Header tags – Use keywords in H1, H2, H3, and other other header tags.
  45. Write amazing header tag copy – Your header and sub-header tag content will improve readability and viewability.
  46. Use keywords in image alt tags – Use keywords in image filename and alt tags for your website images to be search friendly. Increasing your chances of ranking in Google images. Also a way of letting the search engine know what the image is about.
  47. Compress your images – Though there are multiple plugins and tools that can be used to compress your images, I personally love Compressor.io. It gives you almost 90% file size reduction without any difference in quality.
  48. Build links organically – Links to your website should not be forced or automated. It should be generate organically owing to the value that you have provided with your content.
  49. 100 different domains – Getting 100 links from 100 different domains is way better than getting 100 links from 1 domain.
  50. Diversify your links – Getting links from a range of sources plays a significant factor in ranking. Diversify your link sources across blogs, business directories, social media, social bookmarking sites, education sites, etc.
  51. Link context is important – The context of the content on the page which is mentioning a link to your website is important. There has to relevancy to increase trust flow.
  52. Don’t go ‘Flash’ on it – It is not about the speed of getting links, it is all about the consistency and the relevancy of links. Take your time and focus on quality links only.
  53. Don’t ignore Reciprocal Links – If there is a business relationship between your company and some other, you might want to leverage the advantage of reciprocal links here. This means you provide a link to your partner company and get one in return. It is definitely relevant.
  54. Add outbound links – Link to important content outside your blog. This increases your authority and provided the quality of your content is great, it might increase your rankings too.
  55. Create quality reference material – Creating powerful, unique and authoritative content is a great way to get links from high value websites and blogs.
  56. Syndicate your content – Use sites like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse for syndicating high quality content. This will increase traffic to your site.
  57. Share your content on Social Media – Social Signals are an important ranking signal for Google. Abundant sharing on Social media increases the reach and mention of your content.
  58. Add Social Sharing buttons – Add Social Sharing buttons on your website or blog for users to share the content if they want.
  59. Make Social Sharing buttons easy to find – If your social sharing buttons are hidden at the end of your content, chances are that your content may not get a lot of shares. So make them easy to find by making them sticky at the side of the content like I have here.
  60. Use Open Site Explorer –  Use the tool Open Site Explorer to find your competitor links and their sources. Great way of staying ahead in the game of search ranking.
  61. Be careful of Link farms and Link networks – Avoid falling in the trap of Link farms and networks. You might get penalized by Search algorithms.
  62. Read Webmaster Blog to stay update – Google’s Webmaster Blog has regular updates on search and other algorithm changes that can affect your ranking. Subscribe and read them regularly.
  63. Be careful of Google Penalties – Follow Google algorithms properly to avoid any penalty. If you notice a sudden fall in website traffic, you might be hit by a Google Algorithm Penalty. If the penalty is Manual, you will find it under the Search Console.
  64. Implement Paid Ads – Implement Google AdWords paid text ads to supplement your organic listing.
  65. Avoid too many Ads on your site – You need to run AdSense and other Ads on your site for monetization, but do not over do it, and try to keep it to the minimum on-top of the fold.
  66. Create Landing Pages – Create high quality landing pages for your text ads.
  67. Call-to-Action buttons – Add call-to-action buttons for your converting pages. Quality traffic without CTA will not convert automatically.
  68. Reduce Bounce Rate – Add engaging content on your landing pages with an actionable Call-to-action. This will reduce bounce rate on your website and increase user engagement.
  69. Submit to Google Webmaster – Submit your website to Google Webmaster Search Console for Google to find and index your website quicker.
  70. Use Yoast SEO plugin – If you are using WordPress for your website or blog, Yoast SEO plugin is a must have.
  71. Use Schema – Star Ratings, Reviews, Image markup, etc. can boost your click-through-rate.
  72. Ignore No-follow tags – Don’t hesitate to avail links from blogs that have no-follow tags. You will get good traffic despite no-follow tag if the site is high authority.
  73. Write Long form content – Detailed in-depth content can be highly attractive to search engines. But just don’t write to please the search engines, create your content in such a way that your audience gets benefited from it.
  74. Reach out if you mention them – Let people or companies know about it, if you are mentioning their name or website link in any of your posts. Even more if you are writing a review about them.
  75. Keywords density – Google today does not check keyword density for ranking a site. Just check if your content is answering a query that your audience is searching.
  76. Think quality, not quantity – When building links think quality of the link and not the quantity. One authoritative link is better than ten bad links.
  77. Focus on high quality Titles – Follow Buzzfeed and their Title creation process for your blog. High quality titles get more clicks and convert better.
  78. Create a community – Connect with bloggers in your community to increase the reach of your website. One Influencer comment or social share can increase your website reach phenomenally.
  79. Use Quora – Ask and answer questions on Quora to build discussions around keywords and topics. This can also lead to some referral traffic from the links that you share in your answers.
  80. Do Blog Commenting – You need to do blog comments. Bloggers write so that they receive comments on their blogs. This can build your personal brand and you can also get some odd backlinks, though nofollow, helps in getting traffic to your site.
  81. Optimize your Videos – Optimize your video titles and alt tags to increase search potential.
  82. Create XML sitemaps for Images & Videos – Upload separate sitemaps for Images and Videos to Google webmaster to increase indexing.
  83. LSI Keywords – Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are what Google needs today. If synonyms and closely related terms of your keywords are used in the content, it makes it easier for Google to understand what the content is about.
  84. Avoid duplicate Page titles – Don’t repeat the same title tag across all pages in your website. Many ecommerce and CMS sites do these mistakes.
  85. Write Guest posts – Contribute regularly to high-authority blogs and news sites. Featuring in such sites increases your authority in the industry and you can even generate high value link.
  86. Create Infographics – Amazing infographics can increase your website reach drastically. Infographics are one of the most shared content on the web.
  87. SEO does not give instant results – SEO takes time to show results. A brand new website takes at least 3-4 months to show up in search results.
  88. Check if your site is hit by a Panda update – Low quality thin content on your website with too many fillers and ads can be a target of Panda Algorithm.
  89. Check if your site is hit by a Penguin update – Hope you are still not purchasing links from spammy directories and link farms. Penguin was introduced by Google to ensure natural, relevant, and authority links. Disavow all spammy links to your website.
  90. OG Tags – Open Graph meta tags in every page will improve social shares and content amplification. OG tags improve the way your content is viewed in Facebook.
  91. Twitter Cards – Use Twitter Cards in your site to improve sharing in Twitter.
  92. Participate in Forums – Forum discussions can quickly increase the visibility of your brand and products. Add value with your discussions, so that you can engage more users in the forum. Its an amazing way of building a user community.
  93. Use Canonical tags – Make sure you have rel=canonical tag to indicate the search engine that the content on your site is original.
  94. Implement HTTPs correctly – While transferring your site from http to https, remember that there are Static links in your page content where you have to manually add https. Else your site will keep showing unsecured.
  95. Update Old content – Updating old posts with new bits of content has a positive impression in the eyes of Google.
  96. Knowledge Graph – “How to” articles are sometimes pulled up by Google and shown as a list directly in the SERP.
  97. Curate Content – Not all content has to be original. You can also curate top content from other sides, give a spin to it, and create a post. Remember to link to the original posts. Moz is the best example for curate content where they share a newsletter with the week’s top posts.
  98. Get Contextual Links – Build links using relevant anchor text to improve search rankings.
  99. Collect Testimonials – Collect testimonials on Google Reviews, Facebook, Website, etc. to increase search rankings.
  100. Create AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) load really fast on mobile phones. This can have a positive effect on your bounce rate as mobile internet is still a challenge in most countries. Google still does not consider AMP as a ranking factor, but users will engage more if the content loads faster.
  101. Be Consistent – SEO is not a 1-day, or 1-month, or 1-year kind of job. You need to keep doing SEO till the time your website exists. Analyze, Fix, Implement, and Measure.

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