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There is a newer version of this report available: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practice Guide


About this guide

At more than 300 pages long, Econsultancy's SEO Best Practice Guide contains everything you need to know about search engine optimization, whether you work for an in-house client team, independently or for an agency.

Built on the foundations of our previous, highly-renowned report by digital marketing author and trainer Dr Dave Chaffey, this document will help you understand search marketing like never before. 

The SEO Best Practice Guide is invaluable for anybody working in internet marketing, or looking to appoint an SEO agency, or simply trying to secure better search engine rankings.

It has been created with the help and frontline insight of globally-esteemed SEO practitioners, in order to give you the edge in your natural search marketing activity. 

Make no mistake: this guide contains lots of actionable, real world insight. It will help you immediately start to improve your performance across the search engines.

Topics covered

Inside the guide, you will find: 

  • 80+ Best practice success factors 
  • 65+ Key recommendations
  • 65+ SEO tips for success 

These sit across eight main areas: 

  • Planning and strategy 
  • Index inclusion
  • On-page optimization
  • Link building
  • Structured SEO processes
  • Conversion efficiency 
  • Mobile SEO 
  • SEO copywriting

Contributing authors

Contributors to the report include:  

  • Lee Colbran, SEO Director, FreshEgg
  • Malcolm Coles, Independent SEO Consultant
  • Teddie Cowell, Director of Search, Guava
  • Will Critchlow, Founder and Chief Strategist, Distilled
  • Joe Friedlein, CEO, Browser Media
  • Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director, bigmouthmedia
  • Neilson Hall, Director of search, iProspect 
  • Jack Hubbard, CEO, Propellernet
  • Rishi Lakhani, Independent Search Marketing Consultant
  • Alex Moss, Independent SEO Consultant
  • Lisa Myers, CEO, Verve Search
  • David Naylor, Director of Search Marketing, Bronco
  • Kelvin Newman, Creative Director, SiteVisibility
  • Nichola Stott, Director, theMediaFlow


  1. Introduction
    1. About Econsultancy
  2. Introduction to search engine marketing
    1. Search engine marketing: opportunities and risks
    2. Why is search marketing so important?
    3. What is search engine marketing?
    4. Which search engines do we need to be visible in?
    5. Introducing SEO ranking factors
    6. Maximization for SEO
    7. Key challenges of search engine marketing
      1. Advantages of SEO
      2. Disadvantages of SEO
      3. Technical disadvantages
    8. Regulations
  3. How is this guide structured?
    1. Understanding success factors
      1. Success factor 1: SEO planning and keyphrase strategy
      2. Success factor 2: Index coverage
      3. Success factor 3: On-page optimization
      4. Success factor 4: Link building
      5. Success factor 5: A structured process for SEO
      6. Success factor 6: Conversion efficiency
    2. Features of this guide
  4. SEO Success Factor 1: Planning and strategy
    1. An introduction to planning
    2. Setting goals for search engine marketing
    3. Keyphrase analysis and selection
      1. What is keyphrase analysis? Why is it important?
      2. Why ‘keyphrase’?
      3. Understanding searcher keyphrase usage behavior
      4. Time-related variations in keyphrase behavior
      5. Understanding different types of keyphrases
      6. Grouping and categorising keyphrases
      7. Keyphrase variants
      8. Synonyms
      9. Keyphrase identification and selection process
      10. Keyphrase identification tools
    4. Auditing current performance
      1. Conversion efficiency for different keyphrases, site sections and product categories
      2. Cost-effectiveness of different referrers
      3. Competitor benchmarking
      4. Using advanced search syntax for competitor benchmarking
      5. Measurement and tracking
      6. Search engine marketing strategy selection
      7. What is the right balance of spend between SEO and PPC?
      8. Integrating different forms of search to target different phrase volumes
      9. Using search marketing to target customers at different points in the buying process
      10. Options for targeting phrases with SEO and paid search
      11. Determining your strategic target keyphrases
      12. The impact of affiliate marketing on SEM strategy
      13. Continuous and campaign-based search strategy
      14. Which engines to target
    5. SEO resourcing and process
      1. Selecting the right type of agency
      2. Allocating internal resources
      3. Black, white and grey hats: The importance of ethical SEO
      4. Assessing proposals and pitches
      5. Different fee structures (payment models)
  5. SEO Success Factor 2: Index inclusion and coverage
    1. An overview of how search engines work
    2. Site submission to search engines
      1. Which search engines to target?
      2. Site submission approach
      3. Google
      4. Google Sitemaps
    3. What is index coverage? Why is it important?
    4. Evaluating index inclusion
      1. Duplicate content
      2. Supplemental pages
      3. Google Sitelinks (site links)
    5. Spam filters and over-optimization penalties
      1. Types of penalties
    6. Evaluate site indexing activity
    7. Excluding pages and links from the site index
    8. Time-related aspects of search index inclusion
      1. The Google ‘sandbox effect’
      2. Content freshness
      3. Content or domain longevity
      4. Content and link velocity
    9. Site migration
    10. Dynamic content
      1. Avoiding problems with Session IDs
      2. Vertical Search – Inclusion and digital asset optimization
    11. Local SEO
      1. Ranking factors
      2. Google and local search
      3. Tools
    12. International and multilingual SEO
      1. Managing international search engine marketing
      2. Selecting search engines to target for international search
      3. Selecting agencies for international search
      4. Considerations of international SEO
      5. International SEO checklist
  6. SEO Success Factor 3: On-page optimization
    1. What is on-page optimization? Why is it important?
    2. Selecting keyphrases for optimization
    3. Occurrence of keyphrase in page body copy and meta information
    4. Page markup factors
      1. Standards adoption
      2. Title tags
      3. <meta name=“ ”> tags
      4. Headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3>
      5. Keyword formatting
      6. <a href=…></a> Hyperlinks
      7. Image tag ALT attributes
      8. Re-structuring pages with HTML code
      9. Reducing content by removing code to separate files
      10. <noscript> tags
      11. Framed sites
      12. Optimising for Flash/Flash for SEO
    5. Document-level keyphrase factors
      1. Keyphrase(s) within domain name
      2. Document filename
      3. Non-HTML document types
  7. SEO Success Factor 4: Link building
    1. Introduction
    2. What is link building? Why does it matter to SEO?
    3. Understanding PageRank
    4. Which values are assigned to PageRank?
    5. Principles of applying PageRank for SEO
      1. PageRank’s First Principle: more links from other pages to a page increase PageRank
      2. PageRank’s Second Principle: pages with higher PageRank are more valuable
      3. PageRank’s Third Principle: linking pages with a large number of outbound links tend to be less valuable
      4. PageRank’s Fourth Principle: PageRank varies throughout a site according to site structure
      5. PageRank’s Fifth Principle: PageRank has been supplemented by other assessments of the value of a link for the keyphrase in question
      6. PageRank’s Sixth Principle: links from pages in context for a particular phrase are more valuable
    6. Domain popularity
    7. A recommended process for external link building
      1. Illegal and legal links
      2. Search engine guidelines
      3. Link-building strategies
      4. Link freshness and velocity
    8. Link-building approach 1: Natural link building using quality content
      1. Linkbaiting
    9. Link-building approach 2: Requesting inbound-only links
    10. Link-building approach 3: Reciprocal linking
    11. Link-building approach 4: Buying links
      1. For posterity
      2. Buying links direct from another site
      3. Paying for links by bloggers
      4. Buying links from a link broker
    12. Link-building approach 5: Creating your own external links
      1. Content syndication
    13. Outsourcing of creation of news content
      1. Google News optimization
    14. Link-building approach 6: Online PR and social media
      1. Integrating SEO into PR campaigns
      2. Web 2.0 and social media on-page optimization
      3. Social bookmarking and social networks
    15. User-generated content and SEO
      1. Creating more natural keyword variation
      2. Making your pages more unique
      3. Generating content
      4. Ideas for link-building opportunities
  8. SEO Success Factor 5: A structured process for SEO
    1. Structured process for site architecture & internal linking
      1. What is site architecture?
    2. Improving index inclusion
    3. Indexation as KPI
    4. Revising site architecture and linking strategy
      1. How does information architecture affect SEO?
      2. Getting consistency within site architecture
      3. Information silos and site architecture
      4. Strengthen your silos through tactical linking structure
      5. Using keyword research to sculpt site architecture
    5. Internal linking strategy including creation of link-rich pages
      1. Links from standard navigation
      2. Links from ancillary navigation (footers)
      3. Links from document listings
      4. Using design technologies in internal linking
      5. Sitemaps
      6. Body copy (inline links) and image links
      7. Benefits of internal cross linking
      8. Analysing site folders to determine linking strategy
      9. Links from newsletters and blogs on sub-domains
      10. Links between different sites owned by a brand
      11. Broken links
      12. Using analytical tools to review linking strategy
    6. Improve page template effectiveness
    7. Improve SERPs effectiveness
      1. What determines the effectiveness of your call-to-action within the SERPs?
    8. Influencing click behavior
    9. Refine SEO for homepage and other key pages
    10. Creation of themed site sub-sections for target keyphrases
      1. Doorway pages
      2. Other types of content which may help SEO
    11. Optimization of other existing pages
      1. Deciding which existing pages to optimize
  9. SEO Success Factor 6: Conversion efficiency of landing pages
    1. Introduction
      1. What is conversion efficiency? Why does it matter?
    2. What is a landing page?
    3. Defining landing page objectives
    4. Measuring landing page effectiveness
    5. The zero defect approach to improving landing pages
    6. Different types of landing page
    7. Different referrer types
    8. Landing page success factors
      1. Guideline one: Deliver relevance
      2. Guideline two: Integrate with referral source(s)
      3. Guideline three: Provide sufficient detail to support the response decision
      4. Guideline four: Start the user on their journey
      5. Guideline five: Use the right page length
      6. Guideline six: Use meaningful graphics
      7. Guideline seven: Remove menu options
      8. Guideline eight: Consider using a ‘flowable’ or liquid layout design
      9. Guideline nine: Remember search marketing
      10. Guideline ten: Remember the non-responders
      11. Guideline eleven: ‘TIMITI’
      12. Guideline twelve: Consider landing page longevity
  10. Appendix 1: Copywriting for SEO: A guide for content owners and reviewers
    1. Step 1: Aims
    2. Step 2: Identify keyphrases
    3. Step 3: Choosing a document name and location
    4. Step 4: <title> tags
    5. Step 5: Meta tags
    6. Step 6: Body copy
    7. Step 7: Heading styles
    8. Step 8: Hyperlinks (0)
    9. Step 9: Images
    10. Step 10. Re-optimize page
  11. Appendix 2: SEO performance audit template
  12. Appendix 3: SEO Ranking factors quick reference summary
    1. On-page optimization ranking factors
    2. Off-page optimization ranking factors
  13. Appendix 4: Checklist for quality links
  14. Appendix 5: Mobile SEO
    1. Types of mobile search
    2. Create a mobile-ready site
    3. Render your existing site
    4. Standardize technical layouts
    5. Sitemapping
    6. Content accessibility
    7. Link-building
  15. Appendix 6: Example Request for Proposal template
    1. Background information
    2. Proposal
  16. Glossary
  17. About the foundation author and contributors
    1. Foundation author
    2. Expert contributors

A free sample document is also available for download


  • Pdf SAMPLE: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practice Guide (728 KB PDF)
  • Pdf Disabled Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practice Guide (6.45 MB PDF)

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