SEO Checklist

These are SEO guidelines, not rules. Project specific considerations may be more important than SEO. These are also basic rules. If you're already doing all of these, it's time for a more thorough review of your SEO practices to figure out what to do next.

HTML Coding/Development

  • Do add brief descriptions to the alt attribute of image tags. The attribute should describe the image, not be a summary of the article.
  • Do use H1, h3, and H3 for titles and headings.
  • Do create a relevant HTML title for every page. Using the actual article title that appears in the page is a good idea.
  • Do use style sheets as much as possible to keep the page size low.
  • Do use brief and relevant meta tags (keywords and descriptions) to provide a backup for the description that appears in search engine listings.
  • Don't fill the meta tags with words that don't appear in the content of the page. The exception to this is to put common misspellings in the meta tags.
  • Don't repeat meta tag content on every page. The content should be specific to the page.
  • Do create separate sites rather than making a site a sub-site of a larger one.
  • Do not make every visit to a URL unique by appending a session ID or something similar.
  • Do create a site map. This is as much for users as for search engines as it can serve as a gateway to deep content.
  • Don't link to redirects. Better to link directly to the destination page.

Images, Flash, Video

  • Don't create images that contain only text i.e. if an image contains just text, consider using HTML instead.
  • Don't put content in Flash movies. Better to have the content outside of the Flash and in the HTML.
  • Do provide a transcript for video or audio interviews.

Copy and Content

  • Do create a title that uses words that describe the main theme of the article.
  • Do use headings and sub-headings that describe the main theme of the copy that follows.
  • Don't automatically swap out repeated words and phrases in favor of less common words and phrases.
  • Do post all content on the website including newsletters.
  • Do keep all special content such as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving specials on-line.
  • Don't use pop-up windows for content. If pop-ups are necessary, provide an alternative link to the same page that isn't a pop-up.
  • Don't remove content from a website.
  • Do make sure all content, in particular old content, has a link pointing to it. Use a site map or archive list page if necessary.
  • Do allow search engines to view forum discussions. This is free content.
  • Do update content as often as possible. Search engines like frequently updated sites and will visit more frequently.
  • Don't worry about writing articles that are too long. The longer the better when it comes to SEO.
  • Do use link text that is relevant to the destination page.
  • Don't create links that read “click here” or “read more”.
  • Don't create links out of entire sentences.
  • Don't fill the page footer with links to other sites. Better to keep the list short.
  • Do cross-link between pages in the website.
  • Do link to external sites.
  • Do encourage external sites to link to specific content. Many sites are open to sharing links.


  • Need help deciding which words or phrases are more commonly searched for? Try this site: Google Keyword Tool. The higher the number for a word, the more common the search.
  • Need help deciding which words or phrases are most common on existing websites? Try a search at and the total result count at the top of the page.
  • To perform a more thorough analysis of search behavior, try (there is a fee).
  • To see what other site owners are talking about, visit (some discussions are free to read, others require a donation).
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  1. Came across your site by chance (surprise, surprise!). Blog content is good, but how about telling people like me what SEO stands for? Failure to do this ruined the whole thing for me.

  2. Hey,

    I stumbled upon your site while searching for information about content management systems. I think you've done an excellent job with your site, and you seem like someone who's opinion is probably worth listening to. I work for a web design company in SC, and we focus mainly on real estate websites, bringing MLS listings data to real estate agents around the country. I'm thinking about building a content management system (Linux/Php/MySQL) and was hoping you might have a few pointers for me. I'm in grad school at University of South Carolina pursuing a degree in Software Engineering, I'm 24, and I'm pretty good with Java, ASP/VBScript, PHP, Database Admin, Flash/JavaScript/CSS/XML/XSLT (these are the main technologies I work with) If you have any advice for me, I'd be very happy. Thanks in advance!

    Mikell Stevens

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