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Guidelines and Checklist for SEO and Web Design Standards

The checklist below I’ve found to be of great benefit when creating a guide with which to design a website that accomplishes and conforms to what the search engines want to see when crawling and indexing your website. So, without further ado, my General Website SEO Checklist

1. Cross-browser Testing. Site must look good in:

IE 6 (Use emulator to test)
IE 7
Firefox 3
Safari
Chrome

2. Screen Resolution Testing:

- Site must look good at 1024 X 768 screen resolution

3. TITLE tag configuration:

- Each page (both custom and template) needs to have a unique, relevant TITLE. – About 60 letters total.
- No page should say “Welcome To My New Website!” or “Hello” or “Nothing” in the TITLE
- As a default, use this format for TITLE of each page: Page Name – Company or entity Name

Example 1: About Us Page on a site
<title>About [insert Company or entity name] – [insert Company or entity purpose]</title>
Example 2: Products Page
<title>[insert ONLY 2-3 product descriptors relevant to the site] – Company or entity name]</title>
Example 3: Contact Page
<title>Contact   – [insert Company or entity name]</title>

4. H1 Header Configuration:

- Each page (both custom and template) needs to have an H1 header that describes the page. If a custom header is not provided, then default to the first part of the page TITLE (for example, a generic H1 header for the About page would read: About <insert company name here>

5. W3C Compliance:

- Make sure every page has the W3C Validation code as the 1st line in the source code of EVERY page on the site.

6. Alternate HTML text based navigation on each page:

- Every page on the site needs to have HTML footer navigation that mirrors the main navigation (even the homepage). This footer navigation can go on the line right above the Company footer
- The “Home” link AND any other homepage links need to go to the domain and NOT /index.php
- DO NOT add the HTML text footer navigation to the homepage of sites that already have text navigation under the main navigation

7. Alternate image for Flash pages:

- If a homepage has flash, there MUST be an alternative, permanent static photo behind it that can be seen by people that don’t have flash
- As a default, use the first image in the flash presentation
- Put an ALT tag on this image
- Make sure to test on a browser after disabling flash

8. All CSS needs to be external:

- There should NOT be any towards the top of the source code of any page.

9. Keep Javascript towards bottom of coding:

- Move as much JavaScript as possible towards the bottom of the page or off of the page, external file. The more JavaScript there is before the actual content or links start the less likely it is that a page will be search engine friendly. A basic rule-of-thumb is that SEO content should be as high up on the page code as possible.

10. ALT tag configuration:

- All images on homepage need to have ALT tags. As a default, just use whatever the image is representing.

Example 1: Nav image for About [] alt=”About”

11. Homepage link from each page header:

- If using an innerpage main top banner, the entire inner page banner image should be a link to the homepage, not just a portion of it.

12. Site Map configuration:

- Site maps should not have any left navigation.
- There should be exactly one link to each page on the site.
- Make sure links go to LIVE version of site, not a staging version and also make sure that links go to the absolute url (www.site.com) and NOT the relative url (/index.php)
- place any SEO pages directly after main navigation links
- remove Home link
- remove all framed pages
- remove Terms of Service link

13. Verify NO Broken Links:

- Use a link checker like this one: http://validator.w3.org/checklink to make sure that all links on the site work and that none are broken. Set recursion depth to at least 5 to ensure that all pages are checked.

14. Quality Test all forms:

- Test out all forms to make sure that they function.
- No form on the site should give an error message when the required information is entered.
- Also test to make sure that the leads are entered into the backend of the site and are forwarding to the correct email address.

15. All links on site must have a TITLE:

- Navigation links should have title attributes that match the titles of your pages.  It’s a small thing, but it will give significant SEO improvement.

Example 1: This looks like <a title=”name of page” href=”link”>.

16. Provide META description for all pages that don’t have a paragraph of HTML text content:

- As form pages, photo galleries, flash map pages, video libraries, and other media rich pages don’t have much indexable HTML text, it’s important that a META description is provided for these pages that accurately describes what the page contains.

Example 1: a photo gallery page could have this META description: View photos of downtown Santa Barbara real estate using our interactive gallery.
Any page with at least a paragraph of information does not require a META description.

17. Force Domain Name:

- Important! All of these versions of a client’s domain need to be forced to this version: www.example.com where ‘example’ is replaced by the client domain name.

18. Homepage Font Issues:

- Homepage SEO content should between 10-12 points. Smaller fonts should be avoided as it will ding search engine readability.
- SEO content fonts should have the highest color contrast possible. Font colors that essentially hide or diminish the visibility of the text we should assume will hurt SEO rankings.

19. Homepage Hyperlinks:

Hyperlinks embedded in text should be underlined. Blue hyperlinks are best, however in keeping the design uniform, same color links are permitted.

20. Grammar Errors:

Grammatical errors in the text should obviously be QA’ed and corrected.

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