Top 20 SEO DOs and DON’Ts

by Aaron Bradley on June 25, 2009

in SEO

Top 20 SEO DOs:

  1. Make changes that benefit users. Focus on the user and all else (including rankings) will follow.
  2. Create and maintain sensible and consistent navigation paths.
  3. Be continually aware that each and every page on your site is a potential customer entry point. Think laterally.
  4. Label each and every page clearly; describing its content in words your users would most likely employ.
  5. Pay attention to detail. Google takes hundreds of factors into account when ranking web pages, and so should you.
  6. Continually create content that your users will find beneficial.
  7. Inform the search engines of new pages added to your site by submitting sitemaps and providing spider paths.
  8. Use text to qualify or augment non-textual content such as images or videos.
  9. Continually educate colleagues and collaborate with them in regard to SEO techniques.
  10. Continually use data to analyze the impact of SEO techniques.
  11. Streamline your code to make it as lightweight and elegant as possible.
  12. Ensure there's one page that is a champion for each of your most important keywords.
  13. Pursue direct links from relevant sites aggressively.
  14. Insist on site map diagrams and wireframes when developing or reworking templates, sections or sites.
  15. Utilize hierarchal structures whenever possible, from individual pages to folder nesting to site navigation.
  16. Use CSS liberally and JavaScript sparingly.
  17. Be patient. Good rankings take time; quickly-won rankings almost always evaporate.
  18. Be transparent with your results: there are no bad rankings, only opportunities for improvement.
  19. Remember that everyone associated with your business is a potential link partner, including your customers, your affiliates and your advertising partners.
  20. Take the time to read blogs, participate and forums and stay on top of developments in the SEO world. Search engines are dynamic.

Top 20 SEO DON'Ts:

  1. Don't make changes for improved search rankings that negatively impact a user's experience. The user comes first.
  2. Don't duplicate content, knowingly or through technical carelessness.
  3. Don't use parameters that become part of a page's permanent URL structure.
  4. Don't create a page that is not linked to an appropriate parent page.
  5. Don't knowingly let a page 404 (file not found). Redirect dead pages to new pages relevant to that old page.
  6. Don't use Flash when HTML can achieve the same user experience.
  7. Don't make your users search for categories: provide a click path.
  8. Don't give away your link love without good reason (i.e., a benefit).
  9. Don't put pages in competition with one another for your most important keywords.
  10. Don't use gray- or black-hat techniques that could put your search engine rankings at risk.
  11. Don't deploy SEO improvements en masse. When possible, roll out changes incrementally.
  12. Don't rely on top-down navigation to direct users to content. Think laterally.
  13. Don't put content in pop-ups.
  14. Don't use splash pages.
  15. Don't use coding techniques that are less than optimal for SEO just because they're easy.
  16. Don't trust vendors about SEO issues. Their intention is to sell a product, not to improve your search engine rankings. As often as not, vendor SEO "solutions" cause SEO problems.
  17. Don't panic when your rankings take a hit. Rankings fluctuate, and if your rankings don't bounce back quickly, a considered strategy will work better than a band aid.
  18. Don't take the search engines' advice at face value.
  19. Don't rely on anecdotal or even expert advice in making keyword selection choices. Use data.
  20. Don't put off until tomorrow what should have been done yesterday. It takes long enough to rise in the search engine rankings, so any delay is amplified.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 3d animation india July 11, 2009 at 7:32 am

I visit your blog frequently and its very good , I am not a expert webmaster but i like your blog as its very simple and understandable.. please keep it up , 10/10 marks…

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2 Nick Stamoulis July 17, 2009 at 6:25 am

I like number 5, detail is very important. A few small screw ups and Google could penalize you for something that could have been avoided.

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3 Rob Kingston August 8, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Great list. I think you’ve covered the broad subject of SEO quite well. I also like your attitude towards blackhat, javascript, flash and splash pages…

Made a subscriber out of me.

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4 tom roseberry September 23, 2009 at 8:25 am

Nice post Aaron. I like it. I think I’d change #2 under the don’ts slightly. Sometimes you have to have duplicate content (or the same content living in more than one URL) for business purposes. Though it’s unlikely for most sites, I’ve worked with a few where it’s a necessity. I think it’s important to make sure that you’re taking steps to be aware of where and when and why duplicate issues occur and resolve them as best you can (through rel=canonical tag and/or consistent link structure focusing on a single URL version).

This is the first time I’ve checked out your blog. I’ll certainly be back – keep up the good work.

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5 Me January 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Yawn, stretch, sigh. Just another talker that read something here and there. I wonder if science and results ever permeate these posts. Scratch, burp, bounce.

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6 Aaron Bradley January 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Yep, never actually done any SEO in my life. Except for these past six years or so … or was I simply busy scratching, burping and bouncing?

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7 Sean McGown August 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Hi Aaron, first time reader. Great hit list. Any one of those items can easily be missed when you’re dealing with multiple websites.

I think that other than just SEO professionals, this list in an abbreviated form, would be something that is very important to explain to management or the client. The challenge is not making their eyes glaze over while you explain it.

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8 Baburam Bhattarai November 8, 2011 at 2:49 am

Informative article about seo dos and don’t. Thanks for the great tips. I will try to make my site mistake free thanks for sharing

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