SEO Website Building Blocks
Adapted image: Steven Depolo via Flickr

Building your own website? So am I. Here is a no-frills list of important SEO elements that will help maximize your web presence and increase rankings.

Hopefully I’ll get around to completing this checklist for my own site. Some of these points are more effective than others, but it all makes a difference.

1. Use a Keyword-Based URL Scheme

Opting for keyword-based URLs rather than number-based permalinks will help search engines to index and rank your content, which can potentially improve your SERP (search engine results page) rankings.

2. Optimize Image Alt Keywords
It’s important to optimize images,  including using descriptive keywords in the alt tags for your images. Most CMS platforms (such as WordPress) will do this for you automatically. Need your web pages to load faster? Compress images using Image Optimizer or Smushit.

3. Fine-Tune Title Tags
Every page should have an H1 tag that encapsulates that page’s content. Your H1 title tags are where you’ll want to make conspicuous use of major keywords, just make sure you use them naturally; don’t keyword stuff your title tags.

4. Use Canonical Tags
Duplicate content can seriously hamper your SEO efforts if left unremedied. Use canonical tags on your web pages to avoid being penalized in the SERPs standings.

5. Remember Your Robots.txt File
All of the effort that you put into crafting content and getting backlinks will be for naught if Google and Bing can’t index your site.

6. Submit Sitemaps to Google
In addition to Robots.txt files, XML sitemaps go a long way towards helping major search engines to more easily index your site’s content.

7. Add LSI Keywords to Content
Latent Semantic Indexing keywords help search engines to flesh out the meaning of your site’s content. Pepper your content with secondary keywords that reinforce primary keywords.

8. Use Long-Tail Keywords
If the whole point of SEO is to achieve the highest SERPs placements possible, then long-tail keywords are the quickest path to success when used judiciously.

9. Leverage Internal Links
Internal linking between different pages on the same site is a great way to improve user experience and thereby demonstrate value to the top search engines.

10. Include Relevant External Links
In spite of what you may have heard, linking to high-quality external resources is a valid SEO tactic. Anything that makes your site more convenient for users is a good idea. Just make sure you’re linking to relevant, useful & high quality pages and sites.

11. Include Social Media Widgets
Social media indicators are becoming a bigger and bigger piece of the SEO puzzle. Add social sharing and voting widgets for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, but not too many.

12. Focus on UX & Navigation
Delivering a superlative user experience (UX) via clear-cut navigation, fast loading times, and concise, legible content can bring surprisingly positive results. Make sure that your navigation menus and layout are easy to understand, choose plenty of white space over a wall of text, and make sure your images are optimized.

If your business can handle it, consider designing a single page website, also known as a pageless site.

13. Audit Your Site with Software
Manually inspecting every page of your site for proper markup would take forever. Use programs like Google Webmaster Tools and Open Site Explorer to audit your pages instead.

Did I leave anything out?