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10 Vital On-Site SEO Steps

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Photo Credit: Augur Marketing via flickr

If you are a new business owner or the creator of a shiny new website, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and begin searching for link opportunities and promoting content from your site for search engine optimization. However, content strategy and link building should be at the top of the SEO pyramid after a strong online base has been established.

Here are 10 vital on-site steps any website owner must take before moving to any offsite promotion and link building strategy. The steps should be taken in order from 1 thru 10 to ensure that you are set up and ready to go for any off-site efforts.

1. Create a new Gmail account – This is the first and most important step! You will need to separate your personal email from your new website email as soon as possible. There will be numerous log ins and confirmations coming that you don’t want getting lost in your personal email account.

2. Activate Google Analytics – Get the tracking code and get it on your site as soon as your site goes live so you know when, and from where, you are getting traffic.

3. Create a Google Adwords account – Even if you are not interested in pay per click ads, you will need this tool later.

4. Link your site to Google Webmaster Tools – This may require the help of tech support, but Google Webmaster will let you see if your site is functioning properly and this tool lets you alert Google of website changes. Once the site is fully updated, this tool allows you to upload a sitemap to be indexed by Google.

5. Link your site to Bing Webmaster Tools – Even though Google gets the majority of web traffic, it does not get all of it. It can be beneficial to know how your site is being viewed by multiple search engines.

6. Search for keywords in Google Adwords – Start distilling your products and services until you have a list of long tail keywords. Long tail refers to a keyword phrase that is specific and relevant to your business. For example, a new website that sells tools would not be able to rank for the word “hammer” but, “stainless steel claw hammer” could be a much more useful term.

7. Generate a list of 25 keyword phrases – Depending on your site, this may need to be a much bigger list, but you will need them for your title tags and descriptions.

8. Generate title tags – 70 characters or less, this is the snippet that shows up on the browser bar, on your search result title, and it happens to be one of the first things the search engines see when crawling your site. They should be different for each page on your website, and they should directly relate to what is on the page.

9. Three parts, and one pipe to rule them all – I like to create a three part title tag, separating each part with a vertical bar (often called a pipe). It looks like this ” | ” and it is usually on the same key as the forward slash, although it may differ for you. My title tag strategy is composed of the following: Primary keyword phrase | Secondary keyword “or” broader category keyword | company name. You can also put the company name first if you are trying to build your brand. Also, your tags may only be able to have one keyword phrase if you have a long company name. Conversely, an established brand may want to target extra keywords instead of having the company name display.

10. Meta Descriptions – 156 Characters or less – this is your first sales pitch to your customer. These should effectively communicate who your company is, what you do, and why the customer should go in to your site. Do not write these for search engines because they take a back seat to the title tags, and they can make you look ridiculous. Which of the following would entice you to enter the website:

Tag 1: Evan’s Shoe Store, walking shoes, dancing shoes, work shoes, sleeping shoes, girl shoes, boy shoes, man shoes, red shoes, blue shoes all shoes, shoes, SELL ALL THE SHOES, shoes…shoes

Tag 2: Evan’s Shoe Store specializes in all footwear types. We have both casual and athletic shoes available, and our friendly staff will help you find the perfect size and style, visit us soon!

Both of these descriptions were 156 characters. One promotes footwear in a professional and effective manner, the other looks like it was written by a pushy door-to-door salesman with Tourettes. A friendly, readable description with a good call to action is key to success.

These first ten steps, in conjunction with sound technical setup, will put you on the best path to SEO success. There is much more that must be done, and these first ten steps should be updated and tested to ensure they are doing the best job they can for your website.

About the author


Evan Wright

Evan Wright is the digital content manager at DigitalParc, a Minneapolis Web design and SEO company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also the author of The Art of Saving: How to Create Your Money Masterpiece, a consumer advice book. Evan specializes in content strategy, SEO, and online marketing.


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  • Nice article Evan!, We should also care about content also because content is also a dominant place in SEO. Content of the website should be unique and fresh as well as informative.

  • 1.I dont get #9. Other seo consultants always use “-” . What is different.
    2. Do you mind to analyze the seo for my website.kuloon.com
    Many manyThanks

  • science really needs to be considered and practiced in the SEO world for success in establishing and building links to a website

  • My webmaster can’t seem to set up Google Authorship on my website. What should I do? I spent a lot of money on this website. It was ranking great and then all of the sudden it dropped like a rock. Bing and Yahoo live my site and I don’t know what happened? Is there anyone that can help me?

  • Likely the 10 steps are more related with tools than content strategy and link buildings. They are just useful tips or indicators for SEO, and contribute little to SEO actually.

  • I can link my site very easily to Google (analytics, plus etc). I just cannot link to Bing even with following all the instructions. Does anyone know why?

    • Yes, I know why.

      I looked at your website.

      The first thing I notice is that you do not have the basic fundamentals of on page SEO covered.

      Also… you are using too many tags on your site.

      This is confusing to Googlebot.

      I can go on but the best thing to do is incorporate a good solid fundamental on-page approach FIRST!

  • Thank you for the 10 steps. We are a rating site for education and language schools worldwide and will use your 10 steps.

    I have a question: Is DMOZ still important and should we register there as well? We realized in the past that we did not get any listings for months.

  • Nice description of the Meta Description Tag. Also when linking from a social network the Description will be listed under the title.

    Also last year I would include a call to action in the D Tag, but I think your’s is better now.

  • Sorry – the article seems dated. I think that with all of Google’s changes, on-site SEO has changed as well as off-site. This article would have been a reasonable overview five years ago – though it is missing other “vital” elements. I guess to the absolute novice, it’s got some good qualities.

  • This article is fodder. Sorry about that, but it’s this type of fodder that keeps people misinformed and makes the novice SEO’r think they are on track. Then, equipped with this ‘knowledge’, they go out and destroy other people’s rankings with it.

    NOT a good plan for on-site seo at all.

  • This article does seem a bit dated, but everything talked about in this article is still relevant information.

  • These are still basic things of OnSite SEO and I already following all of the facts except #9, because I don’t believe in it.

    Anyway, Great points to follow for newbies if they don’t already

    Best Wishes,
    Shyam Chathuranga.

  • Hi i want to mention something you count the meta tags. the actual tendence of google is to ignorate that, but i recomend still used becouse google make lots of update every mounth, however the content takes leadership today.

  • Hi everyone, thanks for the comments and feedback! A few things I just wanted to add regarding my article:

    1. These steps are what I see as the base to establish a new or updated website before content strategy and link building, or they can also apply to someone just getting started in SEO.

    2. I agree that these steps are not new information. However, the order of them is important to making the later phases of SEO easier. It also can be helpful for even a seasoned expert to have an initial checklist to run through for a new client, rather than jumping into content and links before all of the “nuts and bolts” are set up. Thanks for reading!

    • I agree these are basic steps any new webmaster should take at the setting up stage of a new website or blog. There is clearly a lot more to do once the blog is up and running, especially with respect to building the right social signals through social media sites. But everyone has to start somewhere and from that perspective this is not bad advice.

    • Hi Brian. I agree SEO encompasses much more than it used to. These ten are just the first part of the first phase of SEO. Image optimization, Social media for SEO, content strategy, and link building would all be their own article or set of articles. Thanks for commenting!

  • Why set up a Gmail account? most web hosts offer unlimited email accounts and it looks far more professional to have an email address from your website.

    Also as far as the page description is concerned it has always been recommended not to use “stop” words such as “and, to, the” etc.

    • Hi Adrian. For the Gmail account it can depend on who is doing the set up. In my case we manage many different clients who have different levels of SEO already, so establishing a new Gmail for each of their sites allows us to have a fresh account to get permissions for adwords, analytics and other tools, as opposed to one massive account with permissions and log ins for ten different clients. This also helps since Adwords can only be created on a Gmail without Adwords already in place, unless you use an MCC which requires its own Gmail account strangely enough. The new Gmail is primarily for back end set up, I agree that a company email should be used for actual customer communication. For the descriptions, I have tried to make them more conversational to help with Google’s Hummingbird update, but this one was an example more than a template so you are probably right regarding stop words. Thanks for your comment!

    • I think the description should be in plain English with a natural flow and of course your keyword or a synonym of the keyword included if possible.

      The stop word omission I would normally associate with the URL for the page/post which should be descriptive but not too long and is not something a visitor would be particularly interested in reading.

  • These step are really great for new bloggers. Please also write for carrying good traffic to a website with good page rank but not great traffic.

  • Google Analytics is so important. Learning how to correctly utilize this service will give you a tremendous advantage, helping you find things to target more specifically, and what things to back away from. Everyone in charge of any website should really master Google Analytics.

    • Hi Paul. I definitely agree that Google Analytics are becoming even more important. With the new Demographics and Interest reports emerging they will be even more valuable in the future!

  • Google is now not bothered about links and keywords SEO profession is dead YES ADWORDS could help websites with higher page rank have fallen down vanished from Google search.

  • Great article Evan, still some points are missing i.e. alt tags, header tags, broken links etc.. but still this article covers almost ON page vital steps.

    Looking forward to see more informative articles from you.

    • Hi Ritesh. Thanks for your comment! These first ten are just the starting point for a long SEO marathon, and all of your suggestions are definitely important as well. Thanks for reading!

  • Not Agreed Please don’t use Pipe Sign or Don’t Insert Keywords in title because google takes this trick as spam use unique title which covers all the keyword

    Description also write simple don’t add keywords otherwise you ‘ll not get result in top i am experience in it that’s y i am asking you this

    Sagar Ganatra

  • You forget one of the most important factors in seo
    Content is king and lost of good uninkt content

  • The information is too basic. I was expecting more about keyword research, title, keywords, description, content, back-links, etc.

    Thanks for taking the time to put it together all the same.

  • Thanks for the reminder on these on site seo web pages optimization techniques. They are all vital for any website as necessary activities to meet the requirements for seo building. It is also of paramount importance that one should keep on building quality and unique contents as well for any website. In addition to using Google webmaster tools, your post has also helped me to see the need to consider using Bing webmaster tools.

  • Can anyone confirm how often Google updates their pagerank. I’ve heard its just twice per year, I’m waiting for an update.

  • yes, it’s basic, but i think there are many WHO need the basics to get started on SEO.
    Good job.

  • Thanks for sharing information . these are basic steps to start seo (on site seo tips)

  • Hi i want to mention something you count the meta tags. the actual tendence of google is to ignorate that, but i recomend still used becouse google make lots of update every mounth?

  • A great post with great tips. You have mentioned about ways to improve the onsite SEO factors. It would be really a lot more helpful if you could write a post on offpage seo tips that would help convert visitors.

  • excellent piece of information, I had come to know about your website from my friend kishore, pune,i have read atleast 8 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your site gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i’m already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanx a lot once again

  • Super article, very much useful for the website vistiors, quality content draws attention of the viewers. I like the website. many thanks for great information and research oriented. Website is a great plat form to showcase the thoughts.