SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rules from multiple sources

Compiled by Floyd Jay Winters 03/31/2010, 07/27/2011

SEO - Wiki Definition:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.
(Another class of techniques, known as black hat SEO or spamdexing, uses methods such as link farms, keyword stuffing and article spinning that degrade both the relevance of search results and the quality of user-experience with search engines.)

The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. Some search engines, notably Yahoo!, operate a paid submission service that guarantee crawling for either a set fee or cost per click.

Google offers Google Webmaster Tools, for which an XML Sitemap feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that aren't discoverable by automatically following links.

To get started with Microsoft Bing, see Webmaster Center.

Yahoo! Site Explorer® Webmaster Tools Verification Metatag Content
Enter the meta tag information provided by Yahoo!. To get started with Yahoo! Site Explorer, see Site Explorer.

An excellent link for rating good and bad SEO features is:

Another link is:

  1. Ignore any advice on trying to cheat the system and focus on making great web sites with great content, and your sites will show up fine in searches
  2. Pick a few keywords or phrases that describe your site. Use them, and words related to them in your content
  3. Users don’t search for design, they search for content. If your site doesn’t have content people want, no one will look at it. Every page on your site should follow the Inverted Pyramid. Each page should lead with a relevant H1 tag with one of your keywords, and the first paragraph of text should be a summary of the rest of the page.
  4. Write clean, human-readable HTML. The HTML should follow the conceptual structure of the page, navigation first, followed by the H1 tag, then the first paragraph, etc. Try to use descriptive tags when possible. Use UL for lists, P for paragraphs, H tags for heads and subheads, and STRONG for bolded text. Sue Divs, but don’t overuse Divs
  5. Your home page is the key to your site being found by search engines. It should summarize the rest of the site, and give a clear, compelling reason for a user to look at the other pages in the site
  6. Search engines pay a lot of attention to the links on your site, and the words used in those links. Never use “click here” or “see more” for a link. The more relevant the links on a page, the more findable the page becomes
  7. Every page in your site should have a title with the site name and a short description of the page. About 60 letters total. Include a keyword. Remember that the page title is what appears in search results, it should give users a clear reason to click on it. Your navigation links should have title attributes that match the titles of your pages. This looks like <a title=”name of page” href=”link”>.
  8. The only meta tag that really matters now is the description tag. Search engines may use it to provide the text under the link to your page in their results.
  9. Make sure you have a site map. This is an xml file that describes the structure of your page. Make one, and give it to Google
  10. Search engines are designed to find what humans want. That means the best way to make your site findable is to design it for humans. Your job as a designer is to solve a problem, not make art, prove a point, serve your ego or break a boundary. In this case, your problem is to provide your users with a site that is easy to use and full of what they’re looking for. If you can do that, the search engines will find you.

Floyd Jay Winters - SEO quick Summary:

  • Use good, concise and descriptive <meta name="description">, <title> and <h1> and <h2> tags.
  • Use good <meta name="keywords"> (which are not as important today), but be sure to use those keywords in the body content and <p> tags.
  • Make sure your page is well-formed: all tags close, lower case tags and URLS, use Divs correctly, quote attributes, use correct format (ex: &lt;) for special characters …
  • Use relevant Alt tags and Title tags with images<
  • Make your content and links relevant.
  • See Google Webmaster Tools:
  • Create and submit a sitemap.xml to Google. (see below)
    (However, the web bots will find it anyway if you include the robot.txt files shown below.)

Below is the site map from one of my Web sites, it is saved as sitemap.xml:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<urlset xmlns:xsi=""

Below is the robot.txt file that tells the bots what to rank and identifies the sitemap.xml. It is named robot.txt.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /BackupsOnline/
Disallow: /images/
Disallow: /gdform.asp
Disallow: /popup.htm
Disallow: /slideShowConveyorBeltWide.js

Expression Web SEO Rules

WEB1000 An alt attribute should not start with the word "copyright," the copyright symbol [© or (c)], or any other character or symbol that has no search-engine relevance.

WEB1001 - The <body> tag is missing

* WEB1002 - The page is too large. The contents of the <body> tag should end before the first 100 KB of a page.

WEB1003 - The <noframes> tag is missing. Each page that contains a <frameset> tag should have a <noframes> tag.

* WEB1004 - The <h1> tag should be declared only once in a page

* WEB1005 - This page contains no <h1> tag. Each page should include a single <h1> tag that accurately summarizes and describes the contents of the page.

WEB1006 - The <h1> tag contents are too long. The <h1> tag should contain fewer than 150 characters.

WEB1007 - The <h1> tag contents are too short. If an <h1> tag is empty, search engines may consider it to have no relevance.

WEB1008 - The <h1> is not inside the <body> tag section

* WEB1009 - The <img> or <area> tag does not have an 'alt' attribute with text.

The 'alt' attribute of the <img> or <area> tag begins with words or characters that provide no SEO value

WEB1012 - A hyperlink that contains the value nofollow for the rel attribute will not be analyzed and followed by search engines. This rule is triggered when the SEO Checker encounters a hyperlink similar to the following:  <a href="" rel="nofollow">Example</a>

WEB1015 - The hyperlink contains a session ID such as <a href="/index.action?jsessionid=314CA23119DAD4D69A25699156B0FC7D">jsessionid link</a>

WEB1016 - The hyperlink ends in an ampersand

WEB1018 - Hyperlinks that point to a directory should end in a slash (/).The following is an example of a correctly formatted hyperlink.: <a href="">Proseware News</a>

* WEB1019 - The 'alt' attribute of the <img> or <area> tag contains too many characters. The contents of an alt attribute should not exceed 150 characters.

WEB1020 - The page contains too many hyperlinks.   Search engines will only index and follow the first 100 links in a page. Some search engines may consider a page with 100 or more hyperlinks to be a "link farm," which is considered to be a deceptive technique to artificially inflate a site's ranking.

WEB1021 - The hyperlink contains too many query string parameters. Most search engines will analyze and follow a link only if it contains three query string parameters or fewer.

WEB1022 - The <meta name="description"> tag is not inside the <head> tag

* WEB1023 - <meta name="description"> tag are too long; tag should contain fewer than 150 characters.

WEB1024 - The <meta name="description"> tag contents are too short, should not be empty.

WEB1026 - The <meta name="description"> tag should be declared only once in a page

WEB1027 - The <meta name="description"> tag is missing. Each page should have a <meta name="description"> tag.

* WEB1028 - The <meta name="description"> tag contents are not unique within the site. Because search engines typically display the contents of the <meta name="description"> tag in search results, each page should have a single, unique description that accurately reflects the contents of the page. 

* The <meta name="description"> tag is one of the most important tags that the site developer controls that can influence the relevance and ranking of a site in search-engine results.

The <meta name="description"> tag helps differentiate sites in search-engine results. A precise, descriptive snippet of descriptive text can improve the click-through volume to the site.  If two pages in a site contain identical <meta name="description"> tags, a search engine may arbitrarily decide which one is the most relevant in the search-engine results. This may reduce the page relevancy for a keyword search and may lower the search-engine ranking of both pages.

WEB1029 - The <meta name="keywords"> tag is not inside the <head> tag

* WEB1030 - The <meta name="keywords"> tag contents are too long. Tag should contain fewer than 874 characters.

* WEB1031 - The <meta name="keywords"> tag contents are too short. If the contents of the <meta name="keywords"> tag are too short, search engines may not consider them to be relevant.

WEB1033 - The <meta name="keywords"> tag should be declared only once in a page

WEB1034 - No keywords are defined for the page.

WEB1035 - The <meta name="keywords"> tag contains multiple instances of a single term.

WEB1037 - Make sure 'nofollow' and 'noindex' are used correctly in <meta name="robots">

Robots.txt is the file that search engines use to determine which pages they should crawl. Make sure that you use the nofollow and noindex attributes correctly in the <meta name="robots"> tag.

The nofollow attribute instructs a search engine to index the content of the current page but to ignore the targets of hyperlinks on that page.

The noindex attribute instructs a search engine to ignore the contents of the current page and continue indexing the other pages in the site.

WEB1038 - The <meta name="robots"> tag contains invalid values. A <meta name="robots"> tag includes one or both of the attribute values nofollow or noindex.

WEB1040 - The hyperlink contains an invalid character, such as a carriage-return character

WEB1041- The <meta http-equiv="refresh"> element is being used for redirection.

* Using the <meta http-equiv="refresh">  for redirection may reduce your search-engine ranking.

* WEB1042 - The page is not well-formed

Close self-closing takes like <br />

Properly quote your attributes,

special syntax characters  like > should be &gt; and & should be &amp; ...

The element tags are case-sensitive;

The beginning and end tags must match exactly.

WEB1043 - This page contains one or more <iframe> tags but does not contain content for viewers that do not support frames

* WEB1045 - The title and description for the page are identical.

WEB1046 - The <title> tag is not defined inside the <head> tag section

* WEB1047 - The <title> tag contents are too long. Each page should have a single, unique title contained inside a <title> tag inside the <head> tag section of the page and should not exceed 65 characters.

* The <title> tag is the most important tag that the site developer controls that can influence the relevance and ranking of a site in search engine results.

* WEB1048 - The <title> tag contents are too short. The <title> tag contains placeholder content that provides no search benefit

WEB1050 - The <title> tag should be declared only once in a page

WEB1051 - The <title> tag is missing

WEB1052 - The <title> tag contents are not unique within the site. A good sample: <title>Contact Us</title>

* WEB1053 - The URL in the hyperlink is not lowercase

WEB1054 - The anchor is not formatted consistently. The following is an example of a correctly formatted hyperlink to an external site. <a href="">Fabrikam, Inc. Home</a>

WEB1056 - There is more than one canonical link. A canonical link communicates the preferred version of a URL to search engines. A canonical link is defined in the <head> tag section of a page.

Many sites, particularly database-driven sites, can display the same page using different URLs that include session IDs or other parameters. Different links to the same page are indexed as separate pages by search engines. For example, the following URLs resolve to the same page:



The following is an example of a correctly formatted canonical link.

<link rel="canonical" href=""/>

WEB1057 - Canonical links are not defined inside the <head> tag section

* WEB1058 - The anchor text contains values that provide no search benefit. The <a> tag appears to contain generic text, such as "link" or "click here."

WEB1063 - The <noscript> tag is missing.

* WEB1064 - The <title> tag contains placeholder content that provides no search benefit, such as a default values of <title>Title</title>