101 White Hat SEO Tips

Everyone loves a quick SEO win! This is one of the most comprehensive collections of search engine optimization tips on the Internet, and it is constantly growing. So, make sure to bookmark the article and share it with your friends.

The tips are split into categories; use the links below to jump to a specific category, or scroll down the page to read them all in order.

167 Evergreen White Hat SEO Tips

Table of Contents

Part 1: Site Design & Architecture

Part 2: Keyword Research

Part 3: Content Tips

Part 4: On-page SEO Tips

Part 5: User Experience Tips

Part 6: Off-page SEO / Link Building Tips

Part 7: Website Traffic Tips

Part 8: SEO Tools

Part 9: Social Media Tips

Part 10: WordPress SEO Tips

Part 11: Google Penalties and Recovery

Part 12: General SEO Tips and Advice

Part 1: Site Design & Architecture

1. Always plan your site structure before starting to build it. Make sure that the content is structured logically, allowing you to use targeted keywords for all the relevant categories.

proper website structure

2. Create dedicated pages for each targeted keyword, but don’t go overboard with it. If you target the “business branding ideas” keyword, for example, you should create a:

http://www.yoursite.com/business-branding-ideas

page on your site.

Resist the temptation to create other pages for similar keywords like “small business seo tips”, “how to do seo for my small business”, and so on. If you follow a good search engine optimization strategy, a single website page will rank for several related keywords. Having similar pages on your website will attract a Google Panda penalty.

3. If you plan to launch a new site, the chapters of an Amazon bestseller can be used for your website’s categories. It’s a quick and effective way of planning your website structure and it works fine in any niche, provided that you pick the proper book.

Take a look at the TOC of a vegetarian cookbook; it can be of great help for people who are interested in designing websites for vegetarians.

bestseller toc website categories

4. Any website page shouldn’t be more than 2 or 3 clicks away from the home page; otherwise, the link juice will not flow properly, and some pages could end up in Google’s supplemental index/become useless. Keep website navigation simple and clear for both users and search engines.

5. Check and fix your website’s HTML and CSS. A few errors won’t get your site penalized; however, if their number exceeds a certain value, Google’s bot will leave your site without crawling it in its entirety. A free HTML/CSS validator can be found here: http://www.onlinewebcheck.com/

html css validation

6. If you plan to start a new site, consider using WordPress; it is fast, easy to use, and has lots of free, SEO-related plug-ins.

wordpress seo plugins

7. Keep the important content above the fold, in the area that’s visible when the page loads, without having to scroll down the page. If your site displays ads, avoid placing them above the fold. Google doesn’t like them, so it will lower your website rankings.

8. The “title” and “description” tags of any page should include the targeted keyword as close to the beginning as possible.

Don’t forget to include the keyword in the URL as well. If you target the “seo tips videos” keyword, for example, you could name your arcticle: “10 SEO Tips Videos You Must Watch Today”, and its URL should look like this:

http://www.yoursite.com/seo-tips-videos

9. Having a dedicated “Contact Us” page that lists your business’ address is mandatory. Google wants to make sure you run a real business, and not an affiliate site built for the sole purpose of netting a quick buck.

10. Meta keywords are ignored by Google, but they can still bring in traffic from some of the less popular search engines. Use a few relevant keywords for this meta tag – it may help.

11. Link to other articles and/or pages of your site whenever it is possible to do that naturally; this will keep the visitors on your website for a longer period of time, boosting your search engine rankings.

interlink articles

12. Add a blog to your site, and then start posting high quality content. By creating useful articles that target long tail keywords on a regular basis you will attract more website visitors.

13. Create an xml sitemap of your website and submit it using Google’s Search Console; your website will be crawled and indexed faster. A free online tool can be found at https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

14. Log into your Google Search Console account. Then, choose “Crawl” -> “Fetch as Google” to let Google crawl your site and evaluate its mobile/desktop compatibility.

search console fetch as google

15. Google’s Exact Match Domain update has devalued domains that include keywords in their names. Buying an aged domain for your new website is still helpful, though.

16. Don’t buy an aged domain for your new website without checking it thoroughly. A good domain has many links from industry-related, highly authoritative websites pointing to it.

17. Many people are selling their penalized domains these days. Always Google the URL of the domain that you intend to purchase; if it doesn’t rank #1 in the search results, chances are it’s been penalized.

Don’t forget to check the links that are pointing to it as well – avoid buying any domain, no matter how great it may look, if you see that it has even a few shady backlinks pointing to it.

low quality backlinks

18. Want to buy buy a new domain? Always go for a .com extension, which will help your website rank closer to the top of Google. If you run a non-profit organization, a .org domain would be more appropriate, of course.

Avoid purchasing a domain name that includes hyphens – it’s seen as spammy most of the time, so you won’t get great rankings with it.

19. Reduce the size of your website pages to a minimum. Optimize images, videos, and cut down the size of the website code. Site loading speed is now a huge ranking factor, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool provides precious insight indeed.

20. Most website pages don’t load as fast as they should because images aren’t properly optimized. Make sure to limit image width to 1000 pixels; otherwise, you will waste server space, increase site loading time, and make it difficult for mobile users to see your images without zooming in.

21. If you have bought a new domain but you aren’t ready to launch your website yet, put a 2000+ words, high quality article on the home page and get it indexed. This will allow your site to age naturally, helping it rank faster when you are prepared to launch the new project.

Part 2: Keyword Research

22. Use one or more specialized tools to get access to less-known keywords. Ubersuggest has a generous free plan, and it provides data you wouldn’t be able to get using Google’s Keyword Planner.

Ubersuggest

23. Sites like Wikipedia, Quora and Reddit will allow you to discover unique keywords. Go to each site, type in the keywords that interest you in the search box, and then pick the most relevant results.

using wikipedia for keywords ideas

24. Get your competitors’ keywords using tools like SEMrush, Spyfu, and Ahrefs (my favorite). Some of them may be highly competitive or useless, but you will also discover lots of winners which can be incorporated into your content creation and outreach strategy.

discover competitors keywords

25. Verify if your new keywords are profitable for SEO by running a small Google Ads campaign. Use conversion tracking, let the campaign run for a few weeks, and then evaluate the results.

26. Pick great keywords for your SEO campaigns using third-party keyword research tools (Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc.). If other companies are willing to pay dozens of dollars per click for certain keywords, they must be profitable.

profitable seo keywords

27. The “allintitle” Google search operator will help you determine if a keyword is very competitive. Type “allintitle:your keyword” in Google and you will see the number of website pages that have been optimized for your keyword. Any value above 50,000 will require a serious SEO effort.

allintitle example

28. After checking the “allintitle” competition, the decision to target a particular keyword should be taken only after evaluating the strength of the top 10 competitors. There are keywords that return hundreds of millions of Google search results and yet have a weak top 10, while searches for other industries will only display a few thousands of search results, despite having a very strong top 10.

29. Take user intent into account. Most buyer keywords have prefixes like buy, discount, how to, cure, coupon, help for, etc. Your content should help solve people’s problems.

30. Over 50% of mobile searches are performed using voice-based commands now. Make sure your website is optimized for long-tail conversational keywords.

31. Check Google’s first search results page for each keyword that you plan to target. Organic results may be pushed below the fold by ads, knowledge graphs, and so on, so they may not be worth the effort.

keywords with too many ads

32. Don’t rely on a single tool to get your keyword-related data and make decisions. It is always better to compare the data sets offered by at least two different platforms.

33. Choose keywords you can easily rank for. Stay away from highly competitive keywords, or prepare to spend a lot of time and money with your SEO without having any guarantee that you will win the fight. Big guys don’t care about keywords that have hundreds of searches per month, while a small business owner can make a decent living by getting good rankings for a dozen of carefully chosen, low competition keywords.

34. Here’s a decent desktop-based tool that will track the rankings for your keywords in Google, Bing and Yahoo: Link Assistant’s Rank Tracker.

rank tracker

35. Daily rankings changes are irrelevant for long-term success. So, check your keywords weekly to keep stress levels low.

Part 3: Content Tips

36. Check out Alltop and reddit on a regular basis to find content ideas for your blog posts.

37. Get original ideas for your next article from Wikipedia, Answers.com, YouTube, Google, Bing, Yahoo and Amazon at soovle.

content ideas with soovle

38. Set up Google Alerts to get ideas for your blog posts. Use industry-related keyword for your alerts, and you will get lots of suggestions in your inbox.

39. Use questions that answer people’s search queries as subheadings in your articles; this will help your website rank better for those questions. Use Google’s autocomplete to discover the questions that people are asking about your topic.

search queries subheadings

40. Make your blog posts engaging by adding high quality multimedia content to them: images, infographics, and videos. This will also boost their number of social media shares.

41. Update your posts regularly; Google devalues content that hasn’t been touched in years. Add new information, update graphs, images, etc.

42. Make sure your site doesn’t have duplicate or similar pages. Use Google searches like the one below:

keyword site:yoursite.com

to reveal pages that may have similar content. Compare the articles and remove similar paragraphs (if needed).

finding similar website content

The returned articles may be 100% unique, so only make changes if you discover identical or very similar sections.

43. Sometimes you will need to keep similar pages on your site; think printer-friendly content, for example. In this case, use robots.txt to block access to all the pages that shouldn’t be crawled by search engines.

robots txt example

44. Use Copyscape to check for duplicate content. Copy/paste the desired text on the platform, and then see what URLs show up. If everything is okay, you will see a single result – the page you copied the text from.

45. If you run an e-commerce website, be sure to rewrite all the product descriptions, turning them into engaging calls to action. If you simply copy/paste manufacturers’ descriptions, you’re going to have a hard time trying to rank those product pages. There are probably thousands of identical text snippets in Google’s index for each product you’re trying to sell.

46. Create content without taking keyword densities into account. Write for your users and search engines will reward you for that.

47. Well written long-form content (1,000+ words) which provides all the needed info about a particular topic ranks better than ever before.

48. Feeling plagued by the writer’s block? Use Buzzsumo to discover the most shared articles in your industry.

buzzsumo popular articles

49. Create a piece of content that’s better than the ones discovered by Buzzsumo. Use a backlinks discovery tool to find out who has linked to the original articles, and then show the webmasters your much better content to earn some high quality links.

50. Diversify your content: create videos, interview industry experts, organize contests, etc.

51. Repurpose your best-performing content. Turn your articles into videos, presentations, and more. Then, upload the repurposed content on video sharing sites, document sharing platforms, etc.

52. Use Google’s Keyword Planner or a third-party tool to discover the most expensive keywords in your industry. Choose the ones that have a low volume (less than 100 searches per month) and then write blog posts that target those particular keywords. Rank the blog posts, and you have gotten yourself a good source of high-quality, inexpensive leads.

53. Use Quora to discover the main problems of your potential customers. Write reports that solve those problems and then  give them away on your website, or upload them to the most popular document sharing sites.

using quora for research

54. Don’t ever use spun content on your website. If you and I can easily spot spun content, Google can do that as well.

55. Keep your content up to date and get rid of broken links. If your site has been built using WordPress, plug-ins like Broken Link Checker can help you save a lot of time.

56. Link out to authoritative websites in your industry. Yes, you are losing some link juice, but this tells Google that you aren’t keeping it all for yourself.

57. Does your site fall in the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) category? Then make sure that your website’s content is accurate and helps people; otherwise, Google will penalize your site.

58. Make Google index your new blog posts fast. Log into Google Search Console, choose “Crawl” -> “Fetch as Google”, type in the URL of your new article, and then click “Fetch”; your fresh content will be indexed right away.

index new blog posts fast

Part 4: On-page SEO Tips

59. Make all your paid and affiliate links nofollow. These links don’t transfer PageRank or anchor text, so (in theory) they will provide very small SEO benefits to the sites you are linking to.

<a href=”http://www.yoursite.com/your-affiliate-url” rel=”nofollow”>This is an affiliate link</a>

60. Having low-quality website content may lead to a site wide Google Panda penalty. Merge similar pages into a high-quality one to fix this problem for good.

61. Use Flickr’s advanced search to find royalty-free images for your blog posts.

62. Optimize your images. Include the targeted keywords in their file names, titles and alt tags.

seo image optimization

63. Most search engines can read the texts that have been embedded in your images. However, Google prefers to crawl website pages that use plain text, and will reward them with higher rankings.

64. Google displays the first 50-60 characters from your title tag in its search results. Make sure your article titles look okay on a 512 pixels wide display. Keep the title tags short; otherwise, Google will not display the entire text.

65. Create unique description tags, and limit their length to 150 characters. They may be displayed in SERPs as they are, so make sure to turn them into powerful calls to action.

calls to action in description tags

66. Avoid using dynamic URLs; it is much better to redirect them to their static equivalents.

67. Check and fix 404 errors; they contain links to website pages that no longer exist, and Google doesn’t like that. Use Google’s Search Console or Screaming Frog SEO Spider to discover 404 pages.

68. Add structured data markup (aka rich snippets) to your site. Then, test the results using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

structured data markup example

Websites that use microdata have higher click-through rates, attracting more visitors.

69. Want to increase the chances of having your content displayed as a featured snippet and/or included in the ‘People also ask’ question list? Study the existing results for the query that interests you, copy their style, and then write a better answer. Often, the recipe for success consists of concise, step-by-step explanations which are formatted using the ordered list markup. Here’s an example.

featured snipped optimization

70. Do your on-page SEO properly, and then forget about it. Focus your efforts on getting high-quality links to your content.

Part 5: User Experience Tips

71. Google evaluates the quality of a site by taking relevance, content quality, compatibility and loading speed into account. If people like your content, engage with it, and visit your site regularly, the search engine will send you more visitors.

72. Tabbed content and pages with infinite scrolling must be avoided. Search engines may fail to read that content in some cases, and you don’t want that to happen.

73. Pop-ups may be a necessity, but user experience is essential. Google will penalize your site if you display huge pop-ups on tiny smartphone screens.

74. Install a heat map tracker like Crazy Egg to determine how people are using your website. Then, make the needed changes.

crazy egg heat map

75. Use high-quality images for your articles. Yes, they cost money, but they look much better than the free ones. If you use premium images, you will get additional visitors coming from Google Images and other search engines.

76. Website visitors have a much shorter attention span these days, so use interactive content, infographics, videos, etc. This type of content makes people return for more, and search engines reward sites that have loyal users.

77. Keep an eye on your click-through rates. If the site ranks well for a particular keyword, and yet very few people click through to your page, there must be something wrong with the page title and/or its description.

click through rate values

Use Google Search Console to determine click-through rates for the keywords that matter, and then fix the issues.

78. Write down the titles and descriptions of the ads that are displayed when searching for your keywords. Advertisers have invested a lot of time and money into perfecting those ads, so they’re a great source of ideas for your own page titles and descriptions.

79. Lower your website’s bounce rate. When somebody clicks your website page in Google’s search results, skims through it for a few seconds, and then returns back to Google, this tells the search engine giant that something’s bad. In SEO terms, the “dwell time” is too short.

Low dwell times demonstrate that your content isn’t interesting for visitors. Maybe you have have made some promises in your title and description tags, but the content didn’t deliver. So, make your articles outstanding. Include links to other relevant blog posts whenever it makes sense to do so.

80. Use Google Analytics or your favorite analytics service to discover your site’s exit pages. Determine why people leave and make the needed changes on those exit pages. You want to increase the average time they’re spending on your site to at least a few minutes.

identify improve exit pages

Part 6: Off-page SEO / Link Building Tips

81. SEO Spyglass is a free/inexpensive tool which can detect most backlinks that point to a website. Use it to discover, and then replicate your competitor’s best links.

seo spyglass research

82. Combine Google’s advanced search operators to discover link opportunities nobody is aware of. Use industry sland and “intitle”, “inurl”, “intext” to create your custom search strings.

83. Use synonyms and related words in your search queries. Many people try to find guest blogging opportunities by typing their keyword + “write for us” into Google’s search box, but few of them will also search for their keyword + “write for me”.

84. Learn to use advanced search operators for Yahoo, Bing, etc, and then use these search engines to discover unique link opportunities that Google will love.

advanced search operators

85. Google has hidden PageRank values from us, but you can evaluate the SEO power of any website using Majestic SEO’s Citation Flow/Trust Flow and Moz’s Domain Authority/Page Authority.

domain authority citation flow

86. Don’t try to get sitewide links from sidebars, footers, etc. Contextual links are much safer and valuable.

87. Stay away from reciprocal link building/link exchanges; they won’t improve your rankings. Google is familiar with three way linking schemes as well, so avoid them.

poor link building strategies

88. Press releases are only useful when they present interesting news and company achievements, attracting the industry leaders’ attention and making them link to your site. Don’t try to use them for SEO purposes – they will only provide a temporary boost for low competition keywords.

89. Keep your link request emails as short as possible. Don’t just ask for a link, because you won’t get it; make sure to offer something valuable in return. Don’t be afraid to call webmasters if you think that your website would be a great link candidate for their sites.

90. A good link doesn’t just have a big authority; it will send targeted website visitors as well. Try to get backlinks from real sites, which are visited by lots of people.

91. Set up Google Alerts for your website URL and company name to discover websites that have mentioned your site, but haven’t linked to it. Contact their webmasters and ask them to turn mentions into backlinks.

92. Don’t focus on anchor text when building links. Google’s algorithm is smart enough to understand what a website page is about by reading its content.

When in doubt, go for brand and URL-based anchor texts. Your competitors’ anchor texts can give you fresh ideas.

backlinks anchor text variations

93. Don’t obsessively target dofollow links. Nofollow links are useful; they create a natural backlinking profile, helping improve your rankings.

94. Use tools like infogr.am or Piktochart to create nice looking infographics.

piktochart infographics

95. Broken link building continues to be an effective link building strategy, and online tools like http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com can speed up the process. Another option is to visit the target website pages, and then use browser add-ons such as Check My Links to find broken links. Learn more about broken link building by reading this article: The A to Z Broken Link Building Guide for Evergreen SEO Success.

96. Don’t waste your time trying to build hundreds of low quality links; it is much better to get a few links from authoritative industry sites.

97. Add your site to Google Maps, Bing Maps, Manta, Yellow Pages, and so on. Discover more ways of getting high authority backlinks for free.

98. Get links from a great variety of sources. This will help your site rank well, while making it difficult for your competitors to understand and copy your SEO strategy.

99. Use Google Alerts to discover newly launched industry websites. Since they’re just starting out, many webmasters will want you to guest post on their sites.

100. Make a list with your top 20 competitors, and then examine the backlinks of any fresh site that breaks into top 20. This will allow you to learn what SEO techniques work efficiently now.

Part 7: Website Traffic Tips

101. Don’t just rely on SEO for traffic. Forum posting, ethical article marketing, guest posting, offline marketing (flyers, etc), Q & A sites, document sharing sites and giveaways are just a few examples of free and inexpensive website traffic sources.

102. Don’t get obsessed with getting as much website traffic as possible; if it doesn’t convert to sales, it is useless. It’s much better to target buyer keywords with lower search volumes that lead to conversions.

103. Discover some of the “not provided” keywords that lead people to your site using Google’s Search Console.

Log in, and then choose Search Traffic -> Search Analytics from the left side menu.

finding not provided keywords

104. Set up an alert in Google Analytics to be notified if your website experiences a sudden traffic drop. Use Google’s Intelligence Events -> Create a Custom Alert to set it up.

custom google analytics alerts

Part 8: SEO Tools

105. Google Analytics is a free website traffic monitoring tool. Use it to determine visitor session duration, bounce rates, and much more. However, if you dislike the idea of giving Google access to your site, StatCounter is an inexpensive alternative.

statcounter website analytics

106. SEMrush, Spyfu or Ahrefs can determine important keywords that rank on the second Google search results page. Find the keywords, and then boost their pages using internal links from popular website pages. Often, this is enough to push the keywords to the first page of Google.

107. Don’t want to pay for a backlinks discovery tool? Use Open Link Profiler, a free tool that provides good results.

open link profiler

108. Monitor website downtime using UptimeRobot; you will be notified by email and/or SMS whenever your website is down.

uptime robot website monitoring

109. Platforms like SimilarSites and SimilarWeb allow you to find potential partners, competitors, link building opportunities, etc.

find similar sites

110. FAQ Fox helps you discover industry-related questions that are asked by people on various websites. Use the tool to get ideas for your next content pieces.

faq fox question research

111. Use Google Public Data to discover useful data and graphs, and then use them to create great looking infographics, charts, etc.

google public data research

112. Portent’s Content Idea Generator helps you come up with catchy names for your articles. It is addictive, especially when you start testing various titles using the reload button!

content idea generator

113. Tools like Canva make it easy for people who lack graphic design skills to create good looking images for blog posts, social media covers, posters, and infographics.

canva designs

114. Bulk DA Checker can measure the DA, PA, and Moz Rank values for up to five domains at once.

115. Haro gives you the opportunity to earn high-quality backlinks from reputable news sites. Register for free, and you will start to receive questions from journalists. Answer then thoroughly and you may get a good link.

earn backlinks using haro

116. Use MailTester.com to verify email addresses before reaching out to webmasters. This will reduce the risk of being flagged as a spammer.

email verification tools

117. Want to attract new SEO clients? Then you’d better get all the needed info from them at once. Here’s one of the best SEO questionnaires I could find.

118. A few complaints about your business can bury the site in Google’s search results. Use the Complaints Search Results engine to monitor what is being said about your company online.

complaints search engine

119. Use http://www.webpagetest.org/ to speed up your site, boosting its SEO rankings.

120. Audit your site regularly. Use tools such as Website Auditor to determine the problems.

Part 9: Social Media Tips

121. Create matching accounts on the major social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and then share your content using them. WordPress plug-ins such as Social Networks Auto-Poster can do this for you automatically, saving you a lot of time.

snap social media updates

122. Your content won’t attract visitors on its own, so email it to your subscribers, and post links to it on industry forums whenever it makes sense to do so.

123. Make it easy for people to share your content through social media by adding social sharing buttons at the end of each blog post. If you use WordPress, there are lots of plug-ins that can do the job.

social sharing plugins

124. Include relevant long-tail keywords in your social media profiles. Those domains have a high authority, so they may rank on Google’s first page for your keywords on their own.

125. Don’t just share your own posts on social media; promote other people’s articles about trending topics to boost your brand and authority.

126. Use relevant hashtags in all your social media posts.

social media hashtags

127. Brand any infographics and images you create, and then share them on social media. It’s a simple, effective way to attract visitors to your website.

128. Ask people to share your articles whenever you create a remarkable content piece. Don’t ask them to share your average blog posts, though.

129. Measure the performance of your social media channels by keeping track of the number of “real” followers, fans, etc. Don’t ever buy followers; Google can easily determine if they are fake by checking how often they post, for example.

avoid buying fake followers

130. Post your updates on social media when they have the biggest chance of being noticed and shared. Here are the best times to post on social media.

Part 10: WordPress SEO Tips

131. WordPress is a great Content Management System (CMS), but its built-in themes aren’t ideal. So, use a theme that’s SEO optimized for your website. Themes that load fast and have built-in search engine optimization features will keep Google happy.

132. Most WordPress themes get this right, but it doesn’t hurt to check: each page should contain a single <h1> tag, and that tag should be assigned to the page/post title.

h1 tags for titles

133. If you have a WordPress-based blog, its RSS feed URL is http://www.yoursite.com/feed. Grab this URL and submit it to the top RSS directories to get links and visitors on autopilot every time you post a fresh article.

134. Optimize your sidebar. It may look like the ideal place for those nice-looking widgets and the URLs of your friends’ fantastic blogs, but it can also slow down your site and make people leave earlier than intended through an outbound link.

135. XML sitemaps will beep search engines anytime your site is updated. If you are looking for a simple, lightweight solution, you should install the Google XML Sitemaps plug-in.

xml sitemap generator plugin

136. Add the Yoast SEO plug-in to your site, and then disable the following archives:
– Author archives, for single-author blogs;
– Date archives, if you aren’t using them;
– Subpages of archives.

disable author and date archives

disable subpages of archives

These settings will prevent Google from indexing useless website pages, reducing the amount of duplicate/unwanted content.

137. Install a caching plug-in to boost website loading speeds. Plug-ins such as W3 Total Cache serve static HTML versions of the pages to your visitors instead of making lots of database calls that slow down the site.

w3 total cache options

138. Back up your WordPress site regularly. Use plug-ins such as BackUpWordPress to back up files and databases.

backupwordpress plugin settings

139. Pretty Links will nofollow all your affiliate links automatically, preventing your site from getting penalized.

140. Many developers have integrated schema markup code in their themes. If your theme doesn’t have built-in schema support, there are many WordPress plug-ins – Schema, for example – that will solve the problem.

schema markup wordpress plugin

141. Use a “related posts” widget or plug-in. It will encourage people to read more of your website pages, boosting dwell times and reducing bounce rates. Jetpack is installed by default with WordPress, and it includes a related posts feature as well. Other popular plug-ins are YARPP and Contextual Related Posts.

142. Some plug-ins will slow down your site significantly. Use Query Monitor to find out which plug-ins need to be replaced.

143. Don’t limit yourself to the plug-ins discussed here; explore the most popular ones in the WordPress Plug-ins Directory. Check the number of active installations, ratings, etc.

144. Don’t assign too many categories to a post; otherwise, you will create duplicate content. Use rel=”canonical” to specify the preferred version of the page if you have to assign more than 2-3 categories to a post.

145. Use a good managed WordPress hosting package, or at least a company that offers WordPress-friendly hosting accounts. Managed hosting providers will handle most tech and security related problems, but some of them won’t allow you to install certain plug-ins. Since most companies offer a 30 days money-back guarantee, you can test the desired hosting plan using a dummy WordPress installation.

Part 11: Google Penalties and Recovery

146. Audit your website’s backlinks profile regularly. A few dozens of high quality backlinks will immunize your site, but if you haven’t managed to attract them, get rid of bad links and disavow the ones that you can’t control.

disavowing bad links

Some people may build bad links to your site to hide their own affiliate links, which are placed on the same low quality pages. Others may attack your website using negative SEO because it ranks better than theirs, making them lose money.

147. Manual site penalty messages will be displayed in Google’s Search Console. They lead to lost rankings and significant website traffic drops.

manual penalty message

Use your website analytics tool to determine which pages are affected.

148. Improve low-quality content pieces, or dump them for good. Otherwise, your site will be hit with a Google Panda penalty.

149. Links built using automated tools can quickly lead to Google Penguin penalties. Forum profile links, directory links, blog comments links and keyword-rich links are known Penguin triggers. Read the Google Penguin recovery guide to learn more.

150. Keep your website clean, free from links that lead to shady websites. Update its CMS and plug-ins regularly. Back up the site at least once a week; this service may even be included in your hosting package.

back up your website

151. Moderate all the content posted by visitors on your site through blog comments, forum threads, etc. Remove all the content that looks suspicious and/or includes links that point to spammy, low quality, dangerous sites.

152. Read my Google Penalties: Info and Recovery article.

Part 12: General SEO Tips and Advice

153. Website submission services are useless. Create a few social media accounts that link to your new site to get it indexed within hours.

154. Forums can attract visitors, boosting site authority and building your brand. Remember to set aside the time that’s needed to moderate the forum, though.

155. Use Copyscape to check if your content has been copied by someone else. Then, contact the offenders and ask them to remove the copied content from their sites. If they don’t comply, report the website to Google; they will take care of the matter.

check copied content with copyscape

If people copy and use your articles regularly, consider subscribing to the $10 / month DMCA Website Protection Pro service.

156. If you run a local business, make sure that your company’s NAP (name, address, phone number) are identical on your website, social media accounts, local directories, etc. This will help your site rank higher in Google My Business/local search results.

157. Use Google Alerts to discover websites that Google considers to be relevant for your keyword(s). Then, study those sites and try to replicate their success.

158. Search engines will devalue your website if they determine that it is down for long periods of time. So, invest some money into a good web hosting package.

159. Shared hosting is inexpensive, but you get what you’re paying for. If your site is hosted on a shared server, verify that you aren’t sharing the same IP with a spammer, because it will affect your rankings. Sites like this will compare your site’s IP address with known, spammy IPs.

ip blacklist checker

160. Use a CDN (content delivery network) to speed up the site. It’s a system that caches your website’s static content, storing it in a network of servers. Then, when people access your website, the needed resources are loaded from the servers that are closest to them. Cloudflare is one of the best CDN providers on the market, and they have a free plan that offers enough features for most people’s needs.

161. Type in yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com into the browser; they should redirect to the same URL. If this doesn’t happen, you are missing a 301 redirect; ask your hosting company to help you set it up.

162. Hackers may take control over your site, adding invisible links that lead to dangerous web properties. Perform “bad_keyword site:yoursite.com” Google searches to determine if your website has been hacked or not.

detect website hacking

A sudden ranking/ website traffic drop is either the result of a major search engine algorithm update or indicates that your website has been hacked.

163. Many pages that have been moved into Google’s supplemental index can be brought back to life by rewriting their content and building a few high quality links to them.

164. Optimize your site for mobile devices. Responsive website designs are the best, easiest to maintain solution.

website tested on mobile devices

165. Always prioritize your website pages, giving more attention to the ones that attract visitors who convert to customers. Write more content to support those top performing pages, and then build links to them.

166. Google rewards HTTPS-based sites. Make sure all the internal links and resources point to secure URLs as well.

167. White hat SEO strategies will improve website traffic for sure, but it will take several months to see significant results. Google has incorporated delays into its algorithm, because it wants to prevent SEOs from manipulating its search results.

Further reading:

How to Optimize Your Website for SEO Purposes

7 Best White Hat SEO Techniques

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