9 SEO upgrades you can make right now

Ian Lurie

SEO is really, really hard. Not because it’s mysterious: If you can’t do the math there are always smarty pants out there analyzing the algorithms. You can always just read their stuff and learn.
No, it’s hard because it’s nearly impossible to figure out where to start.
Here are the 10 site upgrades I usually look at first. They’re relatively easy and, if you need ’em, you’ll see solid results:

  1. Put your brand at the end of your title tag. Search engines place more weight on phrases that come at the beginning of the title tag. Hopefully, you already rank for your company name – put the brand at the end! Time required: 30 minutes.
  2. Get yourself a link on Joeant.com and BOTW.org. Why not? They’re links. Links are good. Time required: 45 minutes.
  3. Eliminate links. For example: If you have a ‘terms of service’ and ‘privacy policy’ link on every page of the site, consolidate them. Combining the two links helps your site because each page passes more authority: If each page is a bucket, then you’re reducing the holes in the bucket. More water comes out each hole. Time required: 1 hour.
  4. Consistently link to your home page. Link to your home page to www.site.com, not www.site.com/index.html or other randomness. This is canonicalization 101. Time required: 2 hours, max.
  5. Add ALT attributes. Make sure every product image, logo and navigation button has clear, descriptive ALT text. Time required: As much as you like, or 30 minutes.
  6. Extend your domain reservation. Search engines look at the expiration date on your domain name. If it expires in 10 years, you could earn more trust and rank higher. Go extend your domain reservation to 10 years. Time required: 10 minutes.
  7. Set up Google Webmaster Tools. Look at Diagnostics >> HTML Suggestions. Fix any duplicate title or description meta tags, and insert any missing ones. Search engines are pretty anal retentive. They love that stuff. Time required: 1 hour.
  8. Use Google Webmaster Tools again. Look under Crawl Errors >> Not Found. Any broken links from other sites? Set up a 301 redirect to the right page. That’ll get back the link authority you lost due to the 404 error. It’s instant link building. Time required: Varies wildly.
  9. Download Xenu Link Sleuth. Crawl your site and then save a sitemap from the result. Upload it and tell the search engines where it is. Check sitemaps.org for the details. Time required: 1 hour.

There you go. SEO upgrades, 7 hours or less.

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Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. Ekk! There are a few of these I need to get on, Maybe I need to make one day a week that I work on my own site rather than others. 🙂

  2. A really handy list (already bookmarked) and now I feel vindicated when I was arguing for #6 without having a whole lot of proof handy (or at least no new articles on this one)

  3. Xenu Link Sleuth is most probably one of the best free tools for SEO. Not only to generate sitemaps, but to find broken links, problems within site architecture and to check outbound links that might have expired, etc.

  4. Disagree with #4. It is better to link to several internal pages on your site from other different sites rather than only to the home page of your site. Also #6 is a myth propagated by the domain registration companies to help them get more business and to retain the customer – the longer your domain registration is, the higher your ranking! That is a myth! Search engines do place value on the time or age a site has been around in existence, but definitely do not look at the registration expiry dates. You could register and renew your domain in 1 year increments and still outrank someone who has registered for 10 years and started new simply because your site has been around longer on the internet.

  5. Thank you for the post, it is simple clear and helps a lot.
    I would just add the good use of words in the description of each page.
    This could take time, depending on the size of your site, but if you do it well, you’ll notice the effects.

  6. Mine include
    1. make sure the first link back to your home page doesnt use the anchor ‘Home’ and uses a keyword instead
    2. throw around the code structure so content comes first followed by headers and navigation then edit your coontent to provide keyword rich, surrounded by supporting term links
    3. add company name and address etc to the page footer
    4. sort out page titles and make sure they’re different for each page
    5. re-order product thumbs and descriptions so the description and text link appears in the code before the images
    6. remove any generic ‘more’ links and make sure theyre keyword rich

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