How to make your website search engine friendly

Here’s a great checklist for those of you creating a new website – but even if you’re sticking with the one you’ve got, it might be worth going through this list with your designer. 35 Steps to Make Site Search Engine Friendly From the Start comes from the Pole Position Marketing blog and is in turn an extract from a rather useful book which is available from Amazon for under £10. Read the original article, and I’d recommend the book too, but here are the 35 points which I’ve rewritten into a format which you can send to your website manager or designer to answer:

1. HTTPS/SSL Secure: Can you do this for us easily and cheaply?
2. Keep Your Security Certificate Current: How will we handle this?
3. Allow Spidering of Site via Robots.txt: What’s in ours, and can we get rid of it?
4. Declare Your Document Type: Have we done this?
5. Use Valid HTML: Can you check this at W3C and report?
6. Use Valid CSS: Can you check this at W3C and report?
7. Spiderable CSS and JavaScript Files: Are these visible to search engines? (see 3 above)
8. Avoid Using HTML Frames: Have we eliminated these?
9. Add Image Alt Attributes: Do we have these?
10. Redirect Old URLs: Did we do this from our last site?
11. 404 Bad URLs: Do we have a proper, useful 404 page?
12. Printer-Friendly Options: Has this practice been replaced by a CSS print format?
13. Underline Clickable Links: Where we don’t do this, why not?
14. Differentiate Link Text: Where we don’t do this, why not?
15. Canonical Breadcrumb URLs: If we have breadcrumbs, are they constant on individual pages?
16. Proper Page Hierarchy: If our URLs don’t represent the hierarchy of the website, why not?
17. Balanced Directory Structure: If our website hierarchy is not 3 to 6 levels, why not?
18. Unique Title Tags: Do we have these, and can we have a list?
19. Unique Meta Descriptions: Do we have these, and can we have a list?
20. Properly Coded Bulleted Lists: Are our lists done using proper list HTML?
21. Reduce Code Bloat: Is our page code lean HTML, or is there loads of bloat?
22. Reduce HTML Table Usage: If we’re using tables in layout, can we use CSS instead?
23. Use Absolute Links In Navigation: If we’re doing this, can we change to relative links?
24. Non-Spiderable Shopping Cart Links: Have links into a shopping cart been made nofollow?
25. Disallow Pages To Keep Search Engines Out: Are there any pages we don’t want indexed?
26. NoIndex Pages to Keep Them Out of SERPs: …and if so, are we using the noindex tag on those pages?
27. NoFollow Links to Keep Them From Passing Value: Are we using link sculpting?
28. Check for Broken Links: Can you crawl the site (with e.g. Xenu’s Link Sleuth) to check for any?
29. Find Ways to Increase Page Load Speed: Can you check the site with Google PageSpeed Insights?
30. Reduce the Number of On-Page Links: Can we find out if any pages have >100 links and redesign?
31. Eliminate Duplicate Content: Do all our pages have single, canonical URLs?
32. Implement Proper Heading Tag Hierarchy: Are we using H1 for the title and H2, H3 etc for subheadings?
33. Don’t Use Session IDs: Has this practice been eliminated?
34. Use Search Engine Friendly Links: Are all our links proper HTML links, rather than coded redirects?
35. Implement Structured Data: Are we taking advantage of this?

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