Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies, 4th Edition
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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 of a website that should be crafted with care to help a web page rank, the server status codes that help or hinder SEO, and advanced search operators that will have you searching the web like a pro.

SEO checklist for on-page optimization

Search engine optimization starts on your own website. Focus on ensuring that your content, server setup, and internal links communicate expertise and professionalism to search engines and visitors. Strive to make your website equal to your competitors first, and then focus on surpassing them. As you work to improve your website, stay organized by using this checklist to coordinate your SEO campaign:

  • Do keyword research.
  • Create a title tag.
  • Create a meta description tag.
  • Create heading tag(s) in hierarchical order, headline style.
  • Have a minimum of 400 words of textual content.
  • Include descriptive alt attributes on all images.
  • Consistently use strong and bold tags ( and ).
  • Use fully qualified links (begin all links with https://).
  • Use a sitemap to outline silos.
  • Never exceed 99 links on a page.
  • Use text navigation, rather than image maps or JavaScript-based navigation.
  • Externalize JavaScript/CSS code.
  • Have a robots.txt file.
  • Use web analytics tools to monitor traffic and ROI (return on investment).
  • Create a privacy statement.
  • Include contact information.
  • Check server logs or webmaster tools for server errors.
  • Use 301 redirects over 302 redirects.
  • Test mobile usability of your site (with tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test).
  • Check Google Search Console for reported manual action penalties.
  • Improve site speed and page experience using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights.

Advanced search engine operators for power searching

Search engine optimization (SEO) requires some technical knowledge about how search engines work and how to research what makes sites rank and find out how your competitor sites are successful. The advanced search operators in this table show you how to filter search engine results to find just the information you’re looking for, including limiting your results to just a single site or getting back results where your keyword is used in a page title or URL.

Google Bing Result
cache: Shows the version of the web page from Google’s cache.
contains: Finds web pages that contain links to a particular type of file (such as pdf, mp3). This function is unique to Bing.
ext: ext: Returns only web pages with the file extension you specify (such as htm). Note: Bing includes this operator in its current list, but our tests could not produce reliable results.
filetype: filetype: Finds results of a single type only (such as pdf).
info: Presents some information that Bing has about a web page such as related pages from the site, external pages talking about the page, and related results. This operator is not listed on the current Bing documentation, but our tests show that it continues to work.
intext: Shows pages that contain a specific word in their body text.
intitle: intitle: Finds pages that include a specific word as part of the indexed title tag.
allintitle: Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed title tag.
inurl: Finds pages that include a specific keyword in their indexed URLs.
allinurl: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. Also can be used to find pages whose URLs contain all the specified words.
inanchor: Finds web pages that use a specified keyword as anchor text in a link from the page.
inbody: Finds web pages that use a specified keyword in the body section of the page.
related: related: Finds web pages that are similar to the specified web page.
site: site: Restricts the search to pages within a particular domain and all its subdomains.
* * Acts like a wildcard that can take the place of any word or phrase. Example: tallest * in the world
Excludes results that contain the word following the minus sign. Place this operation at the end of your search query.
“ ” “ ” Finds instances of the exact text within the quotation marks everywhere it appears in the search engine’s index.

Must-know server status codes for SEO

Your hard work on search engine optimization (SEO) won’t matter if your server isn’t set up to properly deliver pages and codes to search engines and your customers. 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 as 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 website, 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.

 

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Bruce Clay has been a search engine optimization consultant since before there was Google. Today, Bruce Clay, Inc., is a leading search marketing company providing SEO services and consulting, pay-per-click advertising management, content development, and social media marketing services. Learn more at bruceclay.com. Kristopher B. Jones is the founder and former CEO of digital marketing agency and affiliate network Pepperjam, which he sold to eBay in 2009. He most recently founded three-time SEO agency of the year finalist LSEO.com and DIY Software company DoItYourselfSEO.com.

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