This is a very comprehensive checklist of website best practices.

(Courtesy of SEOMoz)

Check indexed pages

  • Do a site: search
  • How many pages are returned (this can be way off so don’t put too much stock in this)?
  • Is the homepage showing up as the first result?
  • If the homepage isn’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty or poor site architecture/internal linking, affecting the site.

Search for the brand and branded terms

  • Is the homepage showing up at the top, or are correct pages showing up.
  • If the proper pages aren’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty, in play.

Check Google’s cache for key pages

  • Is the content showing up?
  • Are navigation links present?
  • Are there links that aren’t visible on the site?

PRO Tip: Don’t forget to check the text only version of the cached page.

Content

Homepage content

  • Does the homepage have at least one paragraph?

Landing pages

  • Do these pages have at least a few paragraphs?
  • Is it template text or is it completely unique?

Site contains real and substantial content

  • Is there real content on the site or is the “content” simply a list of links.

Proper keyword targeting

  • Is the intent right?
  • Are there pages targeting head terms, mid-tail, and long-tail keywords?

Keyword cannibalization

  • Do a site: search Google for important keyword phrases.
  • Check for duplicate content/page titles in the SEOmoz Pro Campaign App.

Formatting

  • Is the content formatted well and easy to read quickly?
  • Are H tags used?
  • Are images used?
  • Is the text broken down into easy to read paragraphs?

Good Headlines on Blog Posts

  • Good headlines go a long way. Make sure the headlines are well written and draw users in.

Amount of content v ads

  • Since the implementation of Panda, the amount of ad-space on a page has become important to evaluate.
  • Make sure there is significant unique content above the fold.
  • If you have more ads than unique content, you are probably going to have a problem.

Additional Reading:

How to Write Magnetic Headlines

SEO Copywriting Tips for Improved Link Building 

The Ultimate Blogger Writing Guide 

Tips to Earn Links and Tweets to Your Blog Post

Duplicate Content

There should be one URL for each piece of content

  • Do URLs include parameters or tracking code – This will result in multiple URLs for a piece of content.
  • Does the same content reside on completely different URLs?

Pro Tip:Exclude common parameters, such as those used to designate tracking code, in Google Webmaster Tools. Read more at Search Engine Land.

Do a search to check for duplicate content

  • Take a content snippet, put it in quotes and search for it.
  • Does the content show up elsewhere on the domain?
  • Has it been scraped? – If the content has been scraped, you should file a content removal request with Google.

Sub-domain duplicate content

  • Does the same content exist on different sub-domains?

Check for a secure version of the site

  • Does the content exist on a secure version of the site?

Check other sites owned by the company

  • Is the content replicated on other domains owned by the company?

Accessibility

Check the robots.txt

  • Has the entire site, or important content been blocked? Is link equity being orphaned due to pages being blocked via the robots.txt?

Turn off JavaScript, cookies, and CSS

Now change your user agent to Googlebot.

PRO Tip:Use SEO Browser to do a quick spot check.

Check the SEOmoz PRO Campaign

  • Check for 4xx errors and 5xx errors.

Site Architecture

Hierarchy

  • Are category pages set up in the appropriate way to flow link equity to key pages?

Landing pages

  • Do they have landing pages high enough in the architecture to receive enough link equity to compete for competitive terms?

Number of category pages

  • How many category pages are there?
  • Have they been scaled out too much?
  • Category pages should be built out only when there is enough demand for new or sub category pages.

Pagination/Faceted Navigation

  • Is pagination or faceted navigation more appropriate? Or, should they be used in tandem?
  • Does pagination exist to help long tail content get indexed?
  • Is the pagination prohibitive to crawling (uses JavaScript).

Number of clicks to content

  • Pages targeting really competitive head terms should be one or two clicks from the homepage.
  • Pages targeting moderately competitive keywords should be 2 or three clicks from the homepage.
  • Pages targeting the long tail should be 5 clicks away (obviously exceptions must be made here for sites with a ton of content).

Prioritized content

  • Most important content should be higher up in the pagination

Additional Reading:

Successful Site Architecture for SEO

The SEO Guide to Site Architecture

Information Architecture and Faceted Navigation

Technical Issues

Proper use of 301’s

  • Are 301’s being used for all redirects?
  • If the root is being directed to a landing page, are they using a 301 instead of a 302?
  • Use Live HTTP Headers FireFox plugin to check 301s.

Use of JavaScript

  • Is content being served in JavaScript?
  • Are links being served in JavaScript? Is this to do PR sculpting or is it accidental?

Use of iframes

  • Is content being pulled in via iframes?

Use of Flash

  • Is the entire site done in flash, or is flash used sparingly in a way that doesn’t hinder crawling?

PRO Tip:Flash is like garlic. A little bit of garlic in your food can make it taste better. Eating a plate full of garlic would be quite terrible. Likewise, Flash can be added to a site in a way that improves the user’s experience, but creating the entire site in flash is not a good idea.

Site Speed

Alt text

  • Is alt text present?
  • Does the alt text use keyword phrases?
  • Does the alt text reinforce the topical themes presented in the content?

Check for Errors in Google Webmaster Tools

  • Google WMT will give you a good list of technical problems showing up on your site that they are encountering (such as: 4xx and 5xx errors, inaccessible pages in the XML sitemap, and soft 404’s)

XML Sitemaps

  • Are XML sitemaps in place?
  • Are XML sitemaps covering for poor site architecture?
  • Are XML sitemaps structured to show indexation problems?
  • Do the sitemaps follow proper XML protocols?

Canonicalization

Canonical version of the site established through 301’s

Canonical version of site is specified in Google Webmaster Tools

Rel canonical link tag is properly implemented across the site

Uses absolute URLs instead of relative URLs

  • This can cause a lot of problems if you have a root domain with secure sections.

URLs

Clean URLs

  • No excessive parameters or session ID’s
  • URLs exposed to search engines should be static.

Short URLs

  • 115 characters or shorter – this character limit isn’t set in stone, but shorter URLs are better for usability.

Descriptive URLs

  • Get your primary keyword phrase in there.

Additional Reading:

Best Practices for URLs

URL Rewriting Tool

mod_rewrite Cheat Sheet

Creating 301 Redirects With .htaccess

Internal Linking

Number of links on a page

Vertical Links

  • Homepage links to category pages.
  • Category pages link to sub-category and product pages as appropriate.
  • Product pages link to relevant category pages.

Horizontal Links

  • Category pages link to other relevant category pages.
  • Product pages link to other relevant product pages.

Links are in content

  • Does not utilize massive blocks of links stuck in the content to do internal linking.

Footer links

  • Does not use a block of footer links instead of proper navigation.
  • Does not link to landing pages with optimized anchors.

Good internal anchor text

Check for broken links

  • Link Checker and Xenu are good tools for this.

Additional Reading:

Importance of Internal Linking

Internal Linking Tactics

Using Anchor Links to Make Google Ignore The First Link

Title Tags

Unique title tags

  • Every page should have a unique title tag.

Keyword rich

  • Pages should contain the primary keyword phrase.
  • Is possible to use the secondary keyword phrase in a non spammy way?

Primary keyword phrase at the beginning of the title tag

Page titles include branding

  • In most cases the brand should be included at the end of the page title to help build a brand or entice users if you are a well known brand

65 – 70 characters in length

  • If the title is longer than this, the entirety will not be displayed in the SERPs.

Have they been keyword stuffed by someone else?

Meta Tags

Meta keywords tag used

  • This data should be removed as competitors can scrape this data.

Meta description is appropriate

  • Each page has a unique meta description.
  • Meta descriptions are representative of the content and entice users.

Rewrite meta descriptions for key pages

  • For key landing pages, write meta descriptions by hand instead of systemically implementing.

Meta robots tag

  • Noindex pages only appropriate pages.
  • Not blocking important pages.
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