SEO Checklist for the New Year

SEO checklistLets get the new year started on the right SEO footing.  I’ve summarised below a laundry list of critical SEO items to check for the new year.

  1. Meta Data
    Check all your site’s meta data and ensure that it conforms to SEO best practices incuding length (60 characters for title, 150 characters for description), keyword optimised (for density, and proximity) and most importantly ensure that meta include an appropriate call to action.

  2. Internal Links
    Ensure that your site is contains keyword rich internal links (think wikipedia).   The links should support your site’s keyword targeting strategy (ie internal links should point to urls with strategic keywords (eg. blue widget instead of click here).

  3. Content
    Is your content optimised for your keywords?  Ensure it is by testing it with content optimisation tools such as code to content ratio, and other with this great keyword density tool found at

  4. Images & Video Content
    Optimising your site’s images and video content is critical in 2009.  Google and other search engines such as Yahoo and MSN are displaying more and more non-text based content in their search results (the concept is call Universal or blended search) and there ffore it is very important to ensure that your site’s images and videos (if you have any) are optimised according to SEO best practices including alt tags, file names, snippets and size.

  5. Javascript
    Search engines cannot read javascript.  Ensure that none of your critical content is displayed using this language and more importantly, ensure that your navigation is not displayed using javascript.

  6. Webmaser Tools
    Have you created a Google Webmaster toolsaccount for your site?   Google has created  the webmaster tools interface to help site owners identify issues with their site and fix them in line with SEO best practices.  Creatng a webmaster tools account is very simple.  Ensure that you also verify your site and upload an xml sitemap.

  7. Link Popularity
    Most importantly, in 2009, create a link building strategy and implement it!  Your strategy should be based around the competitive landscape of your niche market.  Analyse the links of your main competitors (the ones ranking for your target keywords) and ensure that your strategy includes a practical solution to acquire similar/better links.  Link building is very time consuming, tedious and results are not immediate but don’t let that discourage you.  If you acquire the right links (from authoritative relevant sites with the optimised anchor text)  you will be rewarded!

  8. Analytics
    Do you have an analytics account? Without one you’re flying blind. If you don’t have a budget for a commercial Analytics program such as Omniture, Google Analytics is a great free one. Ensure you get the most out of Analytics by tagging up your site for KPI goals.

The above is a top level SEO checklist.  There is much more to SEO but if you start with the above, at least you’ve covered the basics.  If you’re interested in Google’s view on SEO, read this SEO best practice guide from Google.

Good luck and have a very prosperous New Year!

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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