10 optimization rules recommended by search engines

You can get more visitors to your site by following rules engines research themselves recommend you.

This document supplements the manual of referencing, which describes the first steps of preparing a site, it comes then when you are developing the site.

1) Keep an old domain name, but...

Because new domains may take time to become visible in results of search engines, Google mainly, you should avoid to use a new domain if possible.
Maybe you can register an expired domain, that is already indexed on search engines, if it matches the topic of your future site.

For foreign users, use a top-level domain related to the language used on the site (Ex: ".es" for spanish): this is just has having two more ranking points! But the name of the domain is very important also and different languages use different words, so use a name in the language of your visitors...

Keywords in the domain name may improve the position in search results. Sometimes they have to be separated by a dash to be recognized. Remember the expertsexchange.com site that has had to change for experts-exchange.com.

2) Think to visitors, not to robots

Improve the content to match what visitors can expect and not to to match what search engines expect. Robots (used by search engines) imitate the behavior of visitors, and will give your page a better rank, if your site is better for visitors: don't try to imitate the robots yourself!

3) Give informative titles to your pages

Inside the <head> section a <title> tag gives to search engines the title of the page. This phrase will be displayed in search results. The H1 tag may be a replacement. The title is the same in both tags but it can add in the <title> tag information that are obvious when you're on the site and therefore are not included in the <h1> tag.
This title is very informative for both users and search engines. Don't leave the "untitled" word generated by editors, and avoid short phrases as "The Car", "Home",  for example, put a full 50 characters length sentence that you consider to be the best description of the page and that let user click on the link.

4) Don't forget any keyword

Compare keywords with GoogleFight. The most popular words should be on your pages.

5) Don't put barrier on the way of robots

6) Name of anchor, "title" and "alt" attributes, and filenames are important

All these attributes must be descriptive: keywords related to the destination page or to the image. Keywords in filename must be separated by "-" (not by "_" even if the later trends to be recognized now by engines).
For example this label: "Rules to improve traffic thanks to search engine" is better than "Best traffic" as label of link on a page. For the ranking of the target page, but also for the indexing of the source page itself.

It is not recommended to over-optimize anchors, in other words, lots of links to a same page with a set of keywords in the anchor. Ideally the anchor must match the page title.

7) Be a detective

This task is very tedious. Prepare a list of groups of keywords, that match your page. Do a search on main search engines: Google, Live, Yahoo. Look at pages that have a better rank than your page. Visit these sites to know why they have a better rank.
You can also register your site at Google for an analysis: how visitors come on your pages.

8) Artificial links and real reference

Yes, you can get these links from lots of directories than nobody never visit (not including the Dmoz directory that is often linked and visited)... This is an artifact of popularity. This is also a poor value and a risk to get a Penguin penalty.
A good and unique content will provide you a lot more links by keen visitors, this real popularity is a criterion for search engine's algorithms and will improve seriously your PageRank.
When your site is really useful and complete in its topic, and not before, submit it to the Dmoz directory.

9) Avoid broken links

Brokens links are very annoying for visitors and this is considered also by search engine to evaluate your site. From time to time, test your site with some software envolved in broken links detection. A such tool is provided in the Script section of this site.

10) Lenghten visit duration

The duration of visits and the number of pages viewed by a visitor is a factor of quality. Retain your visitors with complete but not too long articles, 20 KB sized pages perhaps, or interesting links, or enigmas, or suspense...

References

This guide have been written from my personal experience in several websites since 1999, from forums, and posts on blogs of web experts completed by the following documents: