We’re huge champions of using SEO to drive more traffic to your blog or website because we know it works. The majority of traffic to our publisher network of 200,000 websites and blogs who reach over 300 million people each month comes from search.

It isn’t enough to pepper your site with the right keywords–you also need to provide quality content that addresses the reason why people are searching for the content to win the SEO battle. There are a number of elements to consider, so here’s a checklist to help you optimize your website SEO:

1. URL

In the past, you just needed to include the right keywords in your URLs, resulting in URLs like “online-watches-that-rock.info.” These days, people take domain name into account when deciding to click it–Do they recognize it? Do they trust it? If people don’t recognize the domain name as a brand or trust that it most likely could be a brand, they will be much less likely to click the website in the search results. Now, you should consider both branding and keywords when choosing a domain name.

2. Page Titles

Even though the page title tag is meant to help search engines, it’s now getting more visibility to everyone else through social media. Many social networks pull the title tag, meta description and a featured image when sharing, so make sure to make your page title both keyword and human friendly.

3. Headline

Though we’ve already gone over the difference between page titles and headlines, the two are becoming even more intertwined in 2012. Like page titles becoming more human friendly, headlines should be using keywords as well to let readers from search engines know it will address the problems they searched about.

4. Body

We’ve often touted SEOmoz’s infographic of the perfectly keyword-targeted blog post–and it’s still relevant today. Still pepper keywords throughout the post the same way that you’ve always done it, especially at the top of the post where you are still trying to capture the attention of your readers. This hasn’t changed much, but it is such an important point that we couldn’t leave it out.

5. Headings

Always include headings within your text and with their tags (H1, H2, etc). Not only does it make it easier for your readers to scan and digest your content (thus increasing the possibility of sharing the post to their social networks), but the heading tags also help search engines better categorize your site.

6. Images

In “old school SEO”, you needed to just make sure that if you included an image you always included an alt tag. Now, it’s essential that you include images a majority of the time in your posts as social networks like Pinterest are becoming even more visual-focused. Even if you’re not trying to market your blog on Pinterest, images are pulled with the title and meta description for many social networks including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so be sure to include them in your posts.

7. rel=author Tag

You also need to be concerned with standing out from the other search results. One way to improve your click-through rate is to set the “rel=author” listing with Google–this way, your picture will appear next to any articles you’ve written that appear in the search engine. Like we’ve said before, images are much more captivating than text alone, so use the rel=author tag to help drive more traffic to your site from search engines.

8. Fast Load Time

As the internet has gotten incredibly faster across the world, people now expect your website or blog to load almost instantaneously. Having a fast load time will help lower your bounce rate and increase time on site–two important indicators Google uses to assess your content. One way to decrease your page load time is to use tools like Shareaholic because all of our tools reside in one plugin–you don’t have to find multiple tools for your social sharing and related content needs. You shouldn’t have to compromise your site load time with your tools, so make sure you’ve consolidated all the plugins and tools.

9. Responsive Design

We’ve mentioned before how important optimizing for mobile is–mobile traffic to our publisher network has increased by 27% in this year alone. If your site has funky headers, too large images and poorly sized layout, people will be much more likely to bounce off your page. To ensure your bounce rates are low on mobile, make sure your site is properly optimized with responsive themes and tools.

10. Meta Tags

Meta tags are critical for ideal SEO – whether Open Graph, Schema, or just rich snippets, these meta tags allow your content to look great when it’s shared across the web or appears in a search engine. Open Graph tags are used by many of the most popular social media sites (like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest) to determine what image, title, description, and link to include in a shared post. Twitter also has its own meta tags that it uses to create the Twitter cards – previews of links shared on Twitter. If you’re on a WordPress site, the Yoast SEO plugin is hugely popular and will take care of setting these meta tags for you!

These are just a few basic tips we’ve encountered. What are some SEO trends and tips you know of? Share your thoughts with us below. 

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