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It’s a New Year! What a great time to take a fresh look at your SEO strategies. While search engine optimization should be an ongoing process throughout the year, reviewing some core elements is too often overlooked. By addressing all of the strategies outlined in the checklist, you will be well on your way to improving your website’s visibility in the search engines.

WebFuel SEO Checklist 2009

Here is the WebFuel Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Checklist:

1. Domain Name Ownership
Review your domain name registration and ensure that it does not expire. This is likely the most important item on the checklist. No rights to use your domain name equals no live website. Just imagine what that would do to your search engine visibility. While you are checking your domain status, register the other extensions (.ca, .com, .org, .net) if available. This is known as Google insurance.

2. Reliable Hosting

It likely goes without saying, but a site that is down due to hosting issues does not help your Internet visibility. Ensure that you have engaged a reliable company to provide you with hosting services. There is software (some free) that can track uptime as well as alert you if your site goes down. Being live 24/7 is a must.

3. Crawl & Index Friendly

Making certain that your site stays live is the foundation of the SEO process. The next step is to ensure that your website design, including the navigation system, is spiderable so that search engines can crawl and index your web pages. Do a check. Test using Google and the other major search engines.

4. Robots.txt
Review and update your robots.txt file. This is usually the most overlooked item on the checklist. The robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers what content you do not want crawled.  Not everything in your site should be found in a search.

5. Search Engine Submissions
If you haven’t already done so, submit your XML sitemap to Google. You can do this via your Google Webmaster Tools account. While there is no need to submit to the major search engines (they find you), you should take this opportunity to review what industry-related engines exist (always new ones). And… of course, submit your URL.

6. Content Review
Yes – content is still King. After all, this is what generates the possibility of appearing in search results. Content review should include checking for content starved pages, outdated information, as well as building new content pages – if required. Copywriting revisions should also include adding keywords and addressing internal lingo (not what people search for).

7. Social Media
Now think beyond just your website and explore Social Media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. Even if they are currently not a good fit for your particular business, create a company profile (just in case). Once again, this is also known as Google insurance.

8. Online Reputation
Don’t just control your company profile beyond your site. Manage your reputation on the Internet as well. To get started, simply Google your company name, brand, key people  etc… and review the search results. Again, there is lots of software available to track what is being said on the web – some are fee-based and others are free (Google Alerts). And… of course you can hire a company that specializes in monitoring and keeping your online reputation clean.

9. Web Analytics
Review your filters, goals and conversions to ensure that they are in place as well as your system to analyze the data. If you don’t have a program installed to track your web visitors, put this on the top of your “to do” list. Google Analytics is a powerful tool – and it is free!

10. SEO Site Audit

If you haven’t already done so, budget for a search engine optimization (SEO) site audit. In a nutshell, an audit lets you know what is working, what is not – and how to proceed. It also gives you a baseline to track your search findability over time. This is likely the best investment you can make when it comes to the web.

The predication for the web is continued strong growth in 2009. Ensure that this is the year that your online visibility is managed and improved.