1. Be patient – SEO does not magically improve everything about your traffic all at once. Especially in smaller websites with only a few hundred or thousand visitors, seeing significant increases can take several months to a year.
  2. Don’t forget the basics – The basic rules of SEO should always be followed. This includes having meta descriptions and titles, alt tags on images, titles on links, and using relevant 301 redirects and having a robots.txt file in your root directory.
  3. Include an accurate sitemap – Web spiders need to be able to crawl through your site to index pages. If you have a complicated structure, large site, or a complex navigation system, spiders will certainly have trouble finding everything. A sitemap provides a way for spiders to quickly see your site’s hierarchy and index all of your relevant content and major site pages.
  4. Optimize your load time – Last year, Google rolled out an update to their search algorithm and now sites that take longer to load, or have invalid code are penalized. Minor issues such as inline-CSS or multiple HTML markup elements won’t affect your site, but if it is repeated across the entire site multiple times, or there is invalid javascript code that affects your load time, your rankings will suffer. My advice is to run several pages through an HTML and CSS validator , and then check out Yahoo’s best practices guide for optimizing your website
  5. Have a good design – Your site should be tailored to your customer or audience first, and provide a great user experience. Great designs will have people coming back regularly, which is not only good your bottom line, but also helpful for search engines to determine how large your web presence is.
  6. Use friendly URLs – While you don’t need to stuff your URLs or pages with all of all of your targeted keywords, (in fact as of 07/2011, Google frowns upon this), you should be providing clear URLs that are user friendly and give an idea of the content on your page. If you are using WordPress, you can provide canonical URLs for your entire site. If you don’t have that option, you can try checking out your .htaccess file and making re-write rules.
  7. Write for users – When you write blog entries, product descriptions, or any type of text that is informational, write it so that humans can understand it. Google, Yahoo and Bing bots are very smart about crawling through text and figuring out what it means. If you write your copy for bots, it probably won’t make much sense for readers, and be overloaded with keywords that will only further alienate your audience.
  8. Use Rich Snippets – Also called microdata, Rich Snippets have replaced metadata in google search results page. They are used to provide additional information directly underneath a search result. In addition to Google improving the ranking of pages with Rich Snippets, they are also visually noticeable and will help your link stand out on a page. You can read more about Rich Snippets in my earlier blog entry.
  9. Integrate Facebook and Google+ – Take the time to integrate social media, including Linkedin, and Twitter into your site. Provide more options to share content and get people talking about your site. Google will consider how popular your brand or website is with social media sites and bump your ranking over similar sites with smaller social media footprints

    *BONUS* Google+ is extremely helpful in providing extra information on to search pages. Now that Google integrates Google+ pages into search results, you can increase your presense significantly. Check out this comprehensive guide by AJ Kohn for how to take advantage of all of Google+’s SEO abilities.

  10. Create content – Websites today acquire users by providing something they want. The more information you have on display, the more interested users will be, and the longer they will stay on your page. Information is also more likely to convert a visitor into a member, and then a member into a buyer.Content can be anything from great blog posts, long product descriptions, video reviews on items, interactive games and reviews. If you look at any item sold on Amazon.com, you’re presented with product descriptions, similar items, occasional video reviews, customer rating, customer reviews and product details. Shoppers are usually more likely to purchase items that they know more about, especially when they can’t actually see or try the product they are buying.