Cheat Sheet

Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies

Effective SEO (search engine optimization) is critical for any business that has a website You want your business's website to show up on that first page when people search for what you're selling, and that's where SEO comes into play. Here you'll find the key components to any good SEO plan, the server status codes that help or hinder SEO, and advanced search operators.

A Search Engine Optimization Checklist

Thorough search engine optimization addresses many points. To stay organized, use this checklist to help organize your SEO campaign. Strive to be equal to your competitors first, and then focus on surpassing them:

  • Title tag (<title>).

  • Meta description tag.

  • Meta keywords tag.

  • Heading tag(s) in hierarchical order, headline style.

  • A minimum of 400 words of textual content.

  • Alt attributes on all images.

  • Consistently used Strong and Bold tags (<strong> and <b>).

  • Fully qualified links (begin all links with http://).

  • Use a site map to outline silos.

  • Never exceed 99 links on a page.

  • Use text navigation, rather than image maps, JavaScript, or Flash-based navigation.

  • JavaScript/CSS code should be externalized.

  • Robots.txt file.

  • Use web analytics tools to monitor traffic and ROI (return on investment).

  • Keyword research.

  • Link development.

  • Image names.

  • Privacy statement.

  • Contact information.

Advanced SEO Search Operators

Search engine optimization (SEO) means more than writing great content; you also need to know some of the technical aspects. Use search engine data to discover inbound links, related pages, synonyms, and problems with your site The advanced search operators in this table show you how:

Google Yahoo! Bing Result
cache: Shows the version of the web page from the search engine’s cache.
link: link: link: Finds all external web sites that link to the web page. (Note: In Yahoo!, you must type http://.)
linkdomain: Finds sites that link to any page within the specified domain.
related: Finds web pages that are similar to the specified web page.
info: Presents information that Google has about a web page.
define: define: Provides a definition of a keyword.
stocks: Shows stock information for ticker symbols. (Note: Type ticker symbols separated by a space; don’t type web sites or company names.)
site: site:, domain:, or hostname: site: Finds pages only within a particular domain and all its sub-domains.
allintitle: Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed Title tag.
intitle: intitle: or title: intitle: Finds pages that have a specific keyword as part of the indexed Title tag.
allinurl: Finds pages that have all the query words as part of their indexed URLs.
url: url: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. (Note: You must type in http://.)
inurl: inurl: inurl: Finds pages that have a specific keyword as part of their indexed URLs.
allinanchor: Shows pages that have all the query words as linked text in the page.
inanchor: inanchor: Shows pages that have a specific keyword as linked text in the page.
inbody: Finds pages that have a specific keyword in their body text.
ip: Finds sites that are hosted by a specific IP address. (Note: The IP address you type must be a dotted quad address, such as 111.122.133.144.)

Server Status Codes to Know for Optimal SEO

Your hard work on search engine optimization (SEO) won't matter if your server is acting up. You have to keep your server happy and healthy. Use this table to diagnose server problems, sort out redirects, and ensure that everything is working like it should, and you'll minimize SEO problems.

Code Description Definition What it Means
200 OK The web page appears as expected. You want to see this status. Your server and web page have the welcome mat out for search engine spiders (and users, too).
301 Moved Permanently The web page has been redirected permanently to another web-page URL. When a search engine spider sees this status code, it moves easily to the appropriate new page. A 301 Redirect status doesn't cause a problem for search engine optimization.
302 Found (Moved Temporarily) The web page has been moved temporarily to a different URL. This status should raise a red flag if you find it on your web server. Even though people claim legitimate uses for a 302 Redirect code, this code can cause serious problems for your optimization efforts. Spammers frequently use 302 Redirects maliciously, so if you don't want a search engine mistaking your site for a spam site, avoid them.
400 Bad Request The server couldn't understand the request because of bad syntax. A typo in the URL could cause this status. Whatever the cause, you don't want to block a search engine spider from reaching your content pages, so investigate what's causing this status code on your site.
401 Unauthorized The request requires user authentication. Usually, this status means that you need to log in before you can view the page content. Not a good error for spiders to hit.403
Forbidden The server understood the request but refuses to fulfill it. If you find this status code on your web site, find out why. If you want to block the spiders from entering, have a good reason.
404 Not Found The web page isn't available. You see this error code as the Page Cannot Be Displayed page that appears when a web site is down or nonexistent. You definitely don't want a spider following a link to your web site only to be greeted by a 404 error! That's like visiting a house and finding the lights off and the doors locked. If your server check shows that you have a 404 error for one of your landing pages, fix it ASAP.
500 and up Miscellaneous server errors The 500–505 status codes indicate that something's wrong with your server. Check them out.
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