Search Engine Marketing Checklist

If you have a new website or even an old one that you haven’t looked at much in terms of how it performs on search engines, the following checklist will assist you in getting your website optimized for best performance in the free or organic listings on search engines and also what to look for and do if you are considering paid search.

Remember: If you are not on the first page of the search results, it is unlikely your listing will be clicked. People simply very seldom look further than the first page of search results.

Search Engine Marketing (SEO and SEM) Checklist


  1. Are your Title tags describing the content on each page of your site effectively?
  2. Do your Meta description and keyword tags accurately reflect the content on each page of your site?
  3. Do you have Alt tags on each image?
  4. Are you using real text for content (instead of graphics with text in them)?
  5. Are you including keywords and are the keywords relevant to the content on each page?
  6. Content: How good is it? If it’s not great, don’t expect a lot.
  7. Is your site and content shareable?
  8. Do you have an RSS feed set up?
  9. How many links are coming into your site?
  10. Can you think of people, site owners who would be willing to link to your site and content?
    Have you asked those people to link to you?
  11. Is your site link-worthy?
  12. Have you submitted your site to search engines?
  13. Have you started a blog and/or posted articles about your area of expertise or the product or service you are promoting with your site?
  14. Are you checking how you rank against competitors for particular keyword terms?
  15. Is your content fresh?
  16. Have you run your site through

SEM (Paid Search)

  1. If you are unable to get a top page organic search result, have you considered paid search? Since Google has 84% market share, its AdWords Program is a good place to begin.
  2. Are you choosing your keyword terms effectively?
  3. Are you monitoring which ads are working better than others?
  4. Are you monitoring which keywords are your best performers?
  5. Do you have goals set up in your paid search tool? Is your site listed in as many places as possible?
  6. How focused is each page of your site around a particular keyword term?
  7. What are the top 5 keywords that people are finding you with on search engines?
  8. Do you have pages dedicated to those top 5 keywords?

Measure, Monitor, Monitise (MMM)

  1. Are you tracking your linkpopularity? is a good starting point.
  2. Have you started tracking and monitoring visits to your site with analytics tools?
  3. Do you have analytics on your site? Are you monitoring your statistics and making changes to the site according to what you notice from the statistics reports?

Google AdWords and Keyword Matching Tutorial

If you are just starting out with an advertising account on Google, (aka a Google AdWords account), this quick keyword matching options tutorial will help you get the most from your campaign and maximize your return on investment.

Key points to remember:

  1. Targeting your keywords saves you money and increases ROI
  2. Use exact matches as much as possible
  3. Use phrase matches
  4. Use broad matches sparingly
  5. Use negative matches so that you are only getting clicks from people who are really interested in your product or service

Keyword Matching Options from Google

Keyword Matching Options from Google

Just for fun

Today is July 15th, 2009.  What’s the significance of that day?  According to Wolfram Alpha not much, but it is the 196th day of the year in the 29th week.  Is is trivia, possibly, and trivia is either interesting or meaningless, but there are some benefits to knowing about Wolfram.  It’s mostly for mathematics and numbers geeks, but it can calculate things very quickly and offers a bunch of related information based on any search.  Also there are numerous demonstrations and charts for all kinds of business functions.

A few things to try:

  • enter any date (e.g. a birth date) june 23, 1988
  • enter any town (e.g. a home town) new york
  • enter any two stocks IBM Apple
  • enter any calculation $250 + 15%
  • enter any math formula x^2 sin(x)

It’s a fun tool to play with and worth remembering when you’re looking for data and charts based on specific calculations. It doesn’t know everything though.  For example Wolfram doesn’t know that was officially launched today.

Answers From Friends Are Best

… and if not directly from friends, the next best thing is answers from friends-of-friends.

If you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at Aardvark.

Being well connected just got a whole lot better. Whether you are tiptoeing into the social sphere carefully or frolicking in it like a jello wrestler, you will quickly see a benefit if you haven’t already.

While Google offers almost instant access to any information you’re looking for, Wikipedia is a mouse click away instead in multiple volumes in a library around the corner, and community forums offer a great way to learn and share problems and solutions, when it comes to social media, it’s all about your friends and conversations.

What’s better than asking Google for an answer to a question? Asking a friend. And if that friend doesn’t know, perhaps they have a referral of someone they know that may have the answer. The referral system has been around since Planet of the Apes and it’s doesn’t take Neil Armstrong to figure out why people trust their friends more than a big company.

You have ventured into sharing photos and status updates with your friends on Facebook and you may even be intrigued by Twitter, but what about search? Is there a place for the “social” part of “social media” in search?

I believe the answer is yes. With Aardvark, you can ask a question, any question, and either a friend of yours, or a friend of a friend will send you the answer. The key is that the answer is from a human, someone who cares, someone who has a very unique way of thinking about problems, likes, dislikes, the best places to go, the best ergonomic chair to buy, answers to coding questions, browser compatibility issues, the best place in San Francisco’s Union Square for a quick drink, and/or how to find demographic information about your twitter followers. (The Twitter demographics one was picked up and put on FriendFeed by Robert Scoble.)

Last week there was an article in the NY Times about Aardvark, the web service that answers questions through friends and friends-of-friends, which my friend Amy (Happy Birthday again Amy!) referred me to today on Gtalk. I am so thrilled for Aardvark and can’t wait for more people to try it. My experience so far has been very good and I’m betting we’re only at the very beginning of this adventure.

Congratulations on your successes, Aardvark, I’m not surprised. Thanks for offering a great service.

Top 5 Search Engine Optimization Tactics

1. The Title Tag Is Your Friend
Make sure your keywords appear in the title tag and try to keep your title to seven words or less. Think billboard with keywords and make sure the keywords are relevant to the content you are displaying on the page.

2. Think Niche
The more focused each page of your site is around ONE not five, not three, not even two, but just ONE keyword term, the easier it will be to achieve a good ranking for that keyword term. Make sure the content on that page is relevant to the term and include content that is not only good for keyword-loading, but more importantly useful to your HUMAN visitor. Search engines want to offer value to the person doing the search. Remember that there is a person on the other end of the search box and your page should offer value to that person.

3. Link Love
What’s more important than a bunch of friends on Facebook? A bunch of websites linking to your site. You see, search engines look at the number of links coming to a site as a measure of popularity. Think about it. If you have more votes, you get to be president (well most of the time anyway. You get the idea.) And how do you get links? See item number 4

4. Provide Value
The sites that perform best are the ones that have the best content and that’s really what the engines are trying to their searchers. Content has always been and continues to be king, so just quit messing around with Flash, bells and whistles and gratuitous use of technology because it looks sexy. Think about what your customer is looking for and provide them with the content and value they are looking for.

5. Monitor Measure Learn and Adjust

  • Make sure you are monitoring your site’s analytics
  • Set goals that you can measure changes against,
  • Learn what worked and what didn’t and
  • Adjust your content, keywords and design if necessary to improve your results.
  • Oh, and after all of that, rinse and repeat.

Finally if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to see how well your site is optimized, head on over to the Website Grader and get a free report.

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