1. Add/Remove Trailing Slash on Domain and Links

I made this bonehead mistake in the past and left the same links without the slash(http://domain.com/link/) and in another spot the same exact link with it (http://domain.com/link). What happens is the search engine spiders see both and think of them as two separate links, causing the site to have the same content twice and marking it as duplicate content. Verifying internal link structure for accuracy can save a site from problems in the future.

2. Diversify Anchor Text on Reciprocal Links and Backlinks

Unless the goal of your website is to target one phrase, I find it beneficial to use a variety of keyword phrases when building backlinks. These days backlinking is built more on natural linking, naturally creating variety. When going after some backlinks though, variety is key.

3. Create a Common and Consistent Link Structure

Going along with #1, at the time I made the mistake of using capital letters and lowercase on the same links within the website when building out the internal link structure on with over 150 categories and thousands of posts. Search engine spiders don’t verify this is the same page, so we were left with two pages with the exact same content, hence duplicate content. We were dinged on 150 categories and dropped from Google’s top 10 for most of our categories and posts for four months, until I noticed this on one small aka huge issue. Accuracy when creating websites in the early stages goes a long way here.

4. Consistently Updated Content

If there were any rule I want you to remember, its this one. I have tried most every update scheme I can come up with and there is no magic number per week/month/year. Rather finding a consistent rhythm is key. Make new original content in a scheduled basis will go a long way with the search engines and the users who visit your website. Be careful, going ballistic one day and putting up 50 new pieces of content and then nothing for a month and then a few here and there can penalize you with the search engines. I tried blasting one of my sites with over 1000 pieces of new content for a few days in a row and then I was sidetracked for a couple months on a project. I ranked well right away, not before long the website vanished completely off the rankings in the search engines.

5. Add Inbound Links Consistently.

Similar to adding new content consistently, if you run around to every website and massively attack your niche, adding your link everywhere, search engines will get wise and penalize you for basically being a link spammer. Adding your link slowly and on quality websites will really pay off in the long haul. Even more so, make quality content and let people link to you.

6. Keyword in Domain Name

Obviously not everyone wants the super-long-pirate-cowboy-killer.com domain only to lose visitors because you have the most obscure name in history. We are also seeing this whole web2.0 naming going on; campfire.com, youtube.com etc. This is not necessary to being ranked in the top, but will help with driving more targeted traffic to your niche.

7. Keywords in Title Tag

A must have when developing your on site SEO strategy. My method is to pick three or four keyword phrases and put them all in the title tag. This, as with most SEO, will take time to hone in. It will never be ONLY these keywords for the lifetime of your site. As the site grows you will need to revisit these and other SEO strategies and adjust them for maximum gains.

8. Keywords in Description Tag

Seems obvious, yet I see too many websites not utilizing their main keywords for their home page, category pages, single content pages, etc. Clever coding knowledge or diligent searching can create an SEO friendly set of meta description tags to grab content along with your main keywords. Not only will better description tags help with your SEO ranking, it will also give the users looking at your search results a better idea of what they will be seeing.

9. Website Passes W3C Validators

Run your website through the W3C code validators for both CSS and HTML. Doing so will make sure the search engine spiders can pass through the website without any problems and show you areas of your code where it may be lacking.

10. Quality Backlinks

Quality backlinks from authoritative websites are the best things to have. When we say quality I am not referring to Page Rank. We are talking about how well received and used the site is. The question to ask is ‘Is this site an authority in my niche?’. If so, work on getting your links on there. The more authoritative a site is the more it can pass to your site.

This is my experience over the last few years. I’d be happy to see one person take a lesson from my mistakes and experience and gain from it.

Whats your experience? Did I overlook an extremely point?