By Eric Siu

Six Must Have SEO Basics

By Eric Siu

With over 93% of people using search engines as their first point of research, it goes without saying that search engine optimization is important for any web property. Here are some other interesting SEO-related statistics:

  • Over 70% of clicks go to organic results.
  • 75% of people don’t click past the first page.
  • The top 3 results get up to 60% of organic clicks.

But for a lot of people, there just isn’t enough time to go out and learn the ins and outs of SEO. Or there might not be available budget for a SEO consultant either.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about SEO.

This post will walk you through 6 must have SEO changes you need to make to your site. They aren’t too difficult to implement and will help increase your website’s search visibility.

1. Domain Canonicalization

Sounds complicated, huh? Don’t worry – it’s not.

Try going into your URL bar and entering the non-www and www version of your site. If they both show up as http://yoursite.com and http://www.yoursite.com, you have canonicalization issues. All you need to do here is 301 redirect the one that has less links to the one that has more links. You can use Open Site Explorer to determine which page has less links.

2. Title

The title is one of the most important on-page SEO factors so make sure you get this right. Generally, you want all of your titles to have your target keywords in the front and have the site name in the back. For example, look at how Zappos structures their title:

Shoes, Clothing, and More | Zappos.com

Follow this structure and you can’t go wrong.

3. Breadcrumbs and Related Links

Internal links help structure the strength of inner pages so take advantage of them. Think of your site as an ant hill with water pouring down the tunnels. Ideally, the water would flow through all the tunnels to fill them all up. Breadcrumbs are a great way of creating internal links, here’s an example of what they look like:


In addition, linking to related articles or related products (if you’re an e-commerce store) goes a long way in telling the search engines that these inner pages have some importance as well.


4. Robots control

Many webmasters like to use the robots.txt to block portions of their websites. As an alternative, try using the ‘noindex, follow’ tag on pages because this will allow the link juice to flow freely throughout your site. Using the robots.txt basically creates a black hole for link juice – it stops the flow. For more information on how to use meta robots, check this post out on SEOmoz.

5. Alt tags

As of today, search engines still have difficulty discerning what an image is about. Make sure you use alt tags when you add images so search engines can crawl the text. By doing this, each image you upload with yield some SEO benefit. Remember: No alt tag means you won’t get credit for the picture.

Here’s an example:

“img src=”http://www.evergreensearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/zappos-breadcrumbs.jpeg” alt=”zappos breadcrumbs” title=”zappos breadcrumbs” width=”326″ height=”186″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-674″

6. User Generated Content

Whether you own a blog or an e-commerce store, user generated content is a great way to boost long tail search traffic to your site. The additional benefits include adding more engagement and building trust on your site. Over 62% of people read online reviews which means if you have an e-commerce site, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot to not include user generated reviews. These will help increase conversion rates plus help you generate content on your product pages to help increase organic traffic.

If you have a blog, you can get great user engagement from your great content. The result: lively discussions in your blog comments section and added content at no cost. UGC is a scalable form of SEO that most webmasters should not miss out on.


SEO doesn’t have to be hard. While the industry is rapidly changing every year, there are still a few timeless SEO laws that still exist. Pay attention to those laws and make the simple changes outlined in this post to give your organic traffic a bump. Once you work out all the kinks on your site and are doing the most important things efficiently, you can dive into more heavy lifting SEO tasks. Until then, just get the basics right.

What are some must have SEO basics that I missed?

Magnifying glass image via Shutterstock

  • Yu

    Thx for the explainging the basics in a clear and easy to read way.

    You missed out on some small things:
    – refrain from using ‘alt tag’ in stead of ‘alt attributes’.
    – use ‘site hierarchy’ in stead of ‘breadcrumbs’, when you’re talking about a logical structure to deliver inner-linking over the whole of a site.
    Breadcrumbs refers to the Hansel and Gretel method to display the path a user has ‘walked’ while surfing the site.

    Bud you’re right on the spot with number 6:
    The main focus should be on user generated content, which isn’t hard a ‘hard’ thing to come by although it is time consuming.

  • Good stuff, thanks. I don’t doubt the claims made in the first three bullet points but…for my edification…what is your source?

  • It hurts pretty much to read something like »alt tag« on sitepoint.com …

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. It sort of invalidates the rest of the article when the author doesn’t know the difference between a tag and an attribute.

      Also, also all images should have an alt *attribute*, but only images which carry information should have anything in there. Purely decorative images should have alt=”” in order to reduce noise for screen readers

    • Thanks Andreas,
      I learn something new every day (I’m not a programmer).

  • I think you can add some tools, like Google Webmaster too.

    I’m not sure if breadcrumbs help if you already have your internal pages linked as submenus – which may be easier to do, depending on which platform your website is.

    • Hi Ashvindx,
      That’s a great idea – I’ll consider doing a ‘SEO Tools’ post next time. Thanks for tip.

      Regarding the internal pages as submenus – each site is different. If you look at Zappos, you’ll see the way that they use their submenus is very strategic (to preserve internal link juice flow). They use Breadcrumbs because it creates a good experience for users to backtrack and it helps with internal linking. Since they don’t have static submenus, breadcrumbs do a great job for them.

  • Hey Yu,
    Thanks for the nice comments.

    As mentioned in an earlier comment, I learn something new every day. Definitely appreciate the tips!



  • Sad to see articles like this. for one.. how many times do we have to see articles posted like this “Basics of SEO” I already knew what the article was about before i even opened it. I open it and walla that same BS like the other 50 articles on sitepoint talking about SEO. You pointed out Six Basics there’s way more ‘basics’ than that involved than what you have stated.

    Writing an SEO Article always opens up critical comments lol.

    • Hi Carlos,
      It would be tough to write an article if I tried to hit everything on SEO though, wouldn’t you agree? :)

  • You hit the nail on the head with content. It is so important and quality matters so much now.

  • Bugs Bunny

    Can’t see the images of this article at the moment. For example: http://www.evergreensearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/zappos-breadcrumbs.jpeg What’s up doc? Could somebody fix it?

    • Hey Bugs,
      Should be all good now – are you still having issues?

  • This is a really best article about SEO basics. it helped me a lot to maintain my blog. You know that blogger is not good when it comes to SEO, but we still can manage! Thanks

  • These 6 tips is great to follow, I’ve just installed breadcrumbs tag for my blog, hope search result ranking will improve :)

    • Hey Trung,
      Breadcrumbs are the first step, but it’ll take a bigger effort to help with your overall search rankings. It’s cliche, but you’re going to need to focus on creating great content and relationships with people in your niche so you can eventually gain links and social shares. Content is the first step and relationships are the second step.

      Best of luck!


  • There’s always someone who is new to SEO and needs to know basics… keep up the good fight.

  • Ken

    I thought this was great info. It really is sad how many people are out to “bash” as I have read the other comments.

    Some people need to quit being so grumpy and negative………try doing something positive for once. If you are so much more knowledgeable, blog up!!! Share your knowledge!!! Instead of trashing on someone elses.

    Sorry for the rant. 99% of bashers can NEVER back up their own words.

    • Thanks for the nice comments Ken! No worries on the comments – it wouldn’t be fun if comments were all positive 100% :) Good discussions arise from negativity sometimes so it’s all good!

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