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If you are a newbie in SEO optimization or you have some experience but you would like to find a step-by-step SEO guide in order to avoid common mistakes that can cause some difficulties in website promotion, here is a stepwise list of SEO things you should take into account while creating and optimizing your websites.

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Strategy & Pre-Launch Care

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Install Google Analytics (GA) and Set Up Goals
GA is the most popular traffic counter and analysis tool and will help you to monitor sources of traffic and other important activities. Especially helpful if you are planning to run Google AdWords campaign. It is important to set up basic goals such as revenue, acquisition, inquiry, engagement and many other goals that you need to monitor your website.
You can set up one web counter, but it is better to install several ones in order to prove given results. You can check here how to install Google Analytics. You can use alternative web counters such as Yahoo Web Analytics, SiteCatalyst, Piwik
Add a Website into Google Search Consol
Adding and Verifying Ownership for a website in Google Search Consol will only take a few minutes, but you will be able to check how search engines index your website, what kind of errors they can detect, what duplicate pages you have, broken links, backlinks and etc.
By the way, Bing Webmaster Tools have a bunch of useful functions that can assist you to define and remove these errors.
Link Google Analytics and Google Search Consol
In GA go to: Acquisitions > Search Engine Optimization > Queries and follow the tips. Linking the two services will help you to get more accurate statistics of all organic traffic on your website including the Search Queries.
Add your website or your company into Google maps if you have target audience for a specific region.
If you have a local business you can add it in Google Places for Business that will help users of a specific region to find useful information. It is better to add your website into one category, but not at once into several ones. It is a great way to offer coupons that can be displayed to those users that find your local business in Google maps.
Register Your Domain for Several Years in Advance
Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain
Create a robots.txt file and save the file into the root of the domain
This file is designed to restrict access to your website for search engine and other robots that crawl over the web. It also assists to detect the XML sitemap location. “Bad” robots may disregard the file though.
If you want to access the whole website for index you can use this rule: User-agent*. If you want search engines not to index specific files you can use the rule: Disallow: (and the URL you want to block). To test a site's robots.txt file in Google Search Consol you can click Crawl, than Blocked URLs and click the tab Test robots.txt.
Create XML sitemap and save it in the root of the domain
When you create a sitemap you can submit it to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools that help search engines easily index your web pages and also find out how often you update a website.
It is better to create a sitemap as Google can't always find all pages on your website and define its importance that's why XML Sitemap can fix it. If you have more than 10 000 pages you should arrange all content into several sitemaps.

Keywords Research & Implementation

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Select the Right Keyword Strategy
The dilemma is simple enough: Setting long-terms aims and targeting highly competitive keywords or going after the long tails keywords you can get decent ranking for in the near future. In any case search and competition volumes are very important factor while making your semantic core.
Analyze keywords of your competitors
Analyze those keywords that use your competitors. Compare your keywords with the keywords of your competitors.
Add some keywords into your list. You can analyze your competitors with different tools in order to find out the best keywords and search queries for PPC usage. Check out these tools CY-PR, Semrush, Google Keyword Tool.
Make up The Final List of the Targeted Keywords
As soon as you choose keywords, cramp your list of keywords in your field and mark how much traffic each keyword can bring to your website. You need to divide your keywords into groups according to the pages they will be used for. Yes, every page of your website needs to have a unique set of its own keywords not overlapping (and of course not duplicate) with the keywords of other pages.

On Page Optimization

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Logic Site Architecture / Structure
  1. Plan out a hierarchy before you develop your website
  2. 2. Create a URL structure that follows your navigation hierarchy
  3. Use a shallow depth navigation structure
A “hierarchy” is nothing more than a way to organize your information — something that is simple and makes sense. Your hierarchy will also become your navigation and your URL structure, so everything important begins here.
Write unique titles for each page of your website
The meta tag title is the key in search engine ranking that's why you need to pay lots of attention to it.
Some tips for writing website titles:
  • Try to write unique titles for each web page.
  • Include one keyword into your title and keep 70 characters for each title as search engines show the first 70 characters.
  • Don't use more than 2 or more keywords.
  • Try to make up a short and informative title.
  • Try to avoid such keywords as free, cheap as it will look like spam.
  • Avoid duplicate titles.
  • You can use a brand name in your titles but it is no need to use it on each page of a website as it will decay the user perception.
Make up unique meta descriptions for each page
Meta description plays an important role in snippets creation. This description will be displayed into search engine results so you should draw much attention to it and write only that your users really need to know about each page of a website.
Some tips how to create a right meta description:
  • Write unique meta description about 160 characters as Google shows the first 160 characters of a meta description.
  • Include one keyword into a meta description. Avoid keyword stuffing.
  • All meta descriptions must be informative and shows the main idea of a page.
  • Meta descriptions must be written for people, primarily, but not for search engines.
  • Use a brand name in your description, but not in each one. Avoid the usage of such words as free, cheap.
In Google Search Consol>Search Appearance>HTML Improvements>Duplicate Meta Descriptions you can check all meta descriptions and duplicate content
Build up SEO Friendly URLs
Making SEO Friendly URLs will improve your on page optimization and will increase your authority among search engines. And it is quite comfortable for users to view your URLs.
How to create SEO Friendly URLs:
  • Use a target keyword in your URL as search engines rank better such files;
  • Do the utmost to make your URL short without senseless signs such as &4%34@!$$%%;
  • Use hyphens for your URLs. Don't use underscore;
  • Use a minimum amount of folders into your URL. For examples, use seranking.com/folder1/keyword-research instead of seranking.com/folder1/subfolder1/keyword-research
Use Canonical URL's, avoid duplicate pages from index
Lots of websites have such web pages that have the same information on some URLs what is considered as duplicate content by search engines as they don't know what pages to index.
To make your URL's more effective it is recommended to use Canonical URL's as a preferred version for your page. Just indicate your preferred URL as a Canonical attribute (rel="canonical") for your content.
Optimize H titles (heading tags)
It is recommended to use one heading tag per one page that's why it is better to use your keyword into this heading tag.
Some tips how to optimize a heading tag:
  • If you have lots of titles, use heading tags h2-h6.
  • The best combination will be the usage of h1-h3. You don't need to use extra titles.
  • Don't use H tags with other tags such as strong or em.
  • Don't use a heading tag into your images as it will be considered as spam.
Use Alt tags for your images
If you have images on your website, it is better to use Alt tag to describe a text that can helps search engines and users get what the image and the page is about. Typically, search engines don't read images, but analyze the description of images.
Some tips how to optimize your Alt tags:
  • Alt tags can improve your usability and availability. With the search by image you can get traffic on your website.
  • You should consider Alt images are more important for search engines than title images.
  • Try to describe your images with no more than 5 words.
  • Use one keyword in Alt images, avoid keyword stuffing.
Monitor and Delete / Nofollow Broken Links
Broken links decay behavior factors on a website. For search engines a broken link means an error. If you have a great number of such errors search engine robots will mark as a low quality website.
The reasons of broken links:
  • 404 error when entering an address domain;
  • A download link you offer is not working;
  • An article you refer was removed by admin;
  • A website or a blog is closed or is not working anymore.
To detect such broken links you can use such plugins as Broken Link Check, 2bone Online Link Checker or use Google Search Consol: Crawl > Crawl Errors
Monitor / Improve Your Website Load Speed
Website speed affects not only behavior factors but your SEO optimization. Nowadays search engines take into account website speed. The page speed must be no less than 5 seconds. You will find lots of tools that can help you to define your page speed, for example, Pingdom, WebPageTest, PageSpeed Tools.
Do Not Use Over 100 Outbound Links per Page
If you have a great number of links it can irritate your users and can be considered as spam activity. It is better to check if your website has broken links, use the rel=nofollow attribute that search engines can't index these backlinks.
Once Google spots a page with over 100 external links per one page it may flag not only the page but your entire website.
Wise and SEO-Friendly Inner Cross Linking
Interlinking plays a significant role to enhance your authority and webpage weight in search engines. You can analyze your internal linking for your website into Google Search Consol: Search Traffic > Internal Links.
How to make a right website interlinking:
  • Create a sitemap in html format that helps search engines to index your website and users to find a right article or information.
  • Insert backlinks into articles of your website at the bottom of the web page. You can insert 3-10 backlinks.
  • Make internal linking in your article referring on other articles of your website. Try to include no more than 5-10 backlinks in each article.
  • Insert backlinks into your images. It works well but it should do it in a right way.
  • Make a sitebar on each page of the website with the recent articles. Don't forget to block this section from indexing in order to avoid duplicate content.
Use 301 Redirect
It is important to define whether you will use your website with www or without it as Search Engines may treat these two as different websites. Same with http://www.domain.com and http://www.domain.com/index.php or http://www.domain.com/index.html. It is recommended to use 301 redirect or Rel=Canonical tag.
301 redirect is a status code that says that a page permanently moved to another location. You may directly create these in htaccess file with the following instructions.
Check the markup validity of web documents in HTML
Validity means the conformity of the entire website with open standards so you need to check html code errors of your website.
You can check the defined syntax of HTML and detect some discrepancies. It will help you to display your website in different browsers in a right way, cut down your speed page and affect your rankings in search engines results. You can check the markup validity of your website with online tool validator.w3.org.
Use Breadcrumbs
It is recommended to use breadcrumbs on your website as it improves your usability and simplifies your website navigation for search engines and users. Search engines love breadcrumbs that help users to get additional information. If you add them into snippets it will give you lots of benefits.
Analyze the content in your niche
It is not secret that content is the most important factor that affects your website positions and engages more visitors. That's why it is really vital to write only useful and fresh content.
  • Analyze news and events in your field;
  • Make a deep research about your product, service;
  • Make some interviews and audience research;
  • To increase the relevancy of your website there are several ways how to create a content that can attract more clients on your website:
  1. Make an interview with famous experts in your field;
  2. Create a list of tips, ratings and etc. For example, "5 Ways…", "10 Best…", "Top 6…";
  3. Make some polls and votes;
  4. Create some educational sections, i.e. different dictionaries, reports, guidelines, tips, checklists and etc;
  5. Regularly update your articles, read over again old articles and add something new into them. Analyze what topics you should create in order to refer to your written articles. Search engines, in particular Google, love fresh and new ideas;
  6. Write reviews about popular products, services, books and something that people need most of all from search engines;
  7. Compare popular products, services and etc;
  8. Be the first who can inform fresh and new events in your field;
  9. Use some phrases and quotes of famous people in your niche;
  10. Make some predictions and outcomes;
  11. Share your stories based on real events;
  12. Use humor in your articles as even some stupid and funny things can be viral over the net that can attract more traffic;
  13. Organize some interesting and useful contests;
  14. If you have an on-line shop, try to post your price list as people need to know prices and compare where to buy, what to buy and how much to buy.
Content writing guidelines:
  • Your article must have at least 300 words of unique content, but it is better to write more than 300 words. Just keep the golden mean not too short and not too long;
  • Use your target keyword and long-tail keywords that can be greatly included in your article and look natural and useful for your website;
  • Don't use duplicate and rewritten content. All articles, titles, meta descriptions and heading tags should be unique. Check your articles for plagiarism with Copyscape.
Optimize your content
Content optimization is the most important part in your SEO promotion in order to be in the top of search engine results.
When you write content, try to use the following tips:
  • Write only unique content. Avoid duplicate content. All your pages must have unique content.
  • Check website content for plagiarism. You can use the tool Copyscape.
  • Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes, although sometimes you can get some mistakes for search engine results. But it is better not to abuse of it as your content can be considered as of low quality.
  • Keep keyword density with max 3-5% in each article. Avoid keyword stuffing as you can get Google penalties for that stuff.
  • Use interlinking with your target anchor links. Make sure that too optimized content can create a negative impact on your website.
  • Don't' use ad bots that close the main content as it really irritates and distract users' attention. This method of promotion can decay your usability and your website rankings.
Regularly update content on your website
A regular update of unique and fresh articles will never harm your website, conversely, it will show a serious intention of website owners to give useful information to readers. You should know that search engines have their own crawling schedule. Some websites are indexed every day, and other websites are indexed once per a month. That's why it is better to keep your own schedule of content update and follow it in future. Try to update your website once per a week. If you add new information or some news, don't forget to update a XML sitemap.

Additional info: Frequent update

Create a blog on your website
Blog is a great way to attract more users and improve your website rankings in search engines.
Some tips how to run a blog:
  • Try to make a worthy and useful material, regularly update your blog.
  • Optimize your articles for a blog and share them via social networks (Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and etc.).
  • Create informative, quality and fresh articles with carefully chosen keywords.
  • If you run an ecommerce website you can write not only about your products, service, industry, but you can write about something that is closed connected with your product that can attract your users.
Create infographics, videos, webinars, PDF documents.
It is pretty effective to create different infographics, videos, webinars, podcasts, PDF documents, images and etc, but not use just a dry content. It is not only the best way to attract users, but save your time and add a touch of color and design for your website. Share your creations via social signals. There are different free tools that will help you to create infographics, for example, Piktochart, Easelly, Infogr.am.
The video usage is a great method to promote your website in search engines. What you need to know:
  • Use keywords in headlines and video descriptions;
  • Create backlinks on your video with your anchor texts. It is better to use 50% of exact and mixed keywords and 50% of keywords with your brand name, domain name or natural phrases like "click here", "link here" and etc.
  • Write 10 characters for video descriptions with your keywords.
Invite famous guest writers to write an article for your blog
If you don't have any clues or you are not good at copywriting, you can always find a good and reliable guest writer in your field. It is better to pay a round amount but instead you will get a great and quality article. Use a free plagiarism checker Copyscape to check how unique an article is. Try to read articles several times before you publish it on your blog. Always check articles in details, but not get it and publish it at once on the blog.
If you want to find a good copywriter it is important to check their recent articles, social accounts and etc. Specify deadlines, make up a list of ideas you want to see in your article referring to trusted and quality resources, and also keep the possibility to edit the article in future.
Avoid keyword stuffing
One of the simpliest ways to kill a decent SEO work is by using the targeted keywords too frequently. It doesn't look natural and creates some inconveniences for users. Create an interesting and useful content where you can effectively use your keywords. Don't use the following ways of hidden text and links.

Additional info: Keyword Stuffing

Make sure your website works good when viewed on a mobile device
Nowadays everybody has mobile devices as a great number of them use them everywhere instead of computer. That's why it is important to create mobile websites and make sure that search engine robots indexed your version of a website. Since April 2015, website's mobile optimization will be taken into account when calculating the Google search rankings.
Search engines robots (including their mobile versions) can't find your website if you block the access to it. That's why you can decide whether to allow access or block search engine robots from the mobile version of a website. If you decide to access the site than use the rule: User-Agent "Google-Mobile" in robots.txt file.
All URLs should be available for mobile devices
Make sure that all URLs of your mobile website should be available in a mobile format XHTML Mobile or Compact HTML. If you have done everything right your website page will be available for users and will be indexed.
Direct the mobile version of the page for the same product
When your users want to find your website with help of computer you should direct them to the proper page of the website as you used in the mobile version of a website. Google fairly gets two versions of the website for mobile devices and for computers. Make sure once again that you redirect users to the suitable page of the mobile site as it affects your website rankings and website usability.
Make Sure Website is Not only SEO-Friendly but also User-Friendly
  • Check whether all fill-out forms work well;
  • Your content should be well-formed, structural and comfortable for users' perception;
  • The website should be well displayed in all browsers;
  • All pages of a website should have a common style of appearance;
  • Your contacts should be located in footer and should be displayed on each page of the website;
  • Make your content easy to read with necessary type, color and line interval;
  • All important sections are placed on the homepage;
  • Use unique favicon for your website;
  • Check your website for plagiarism, for grammar, spelling and punctual mistakes;
  • Anchor text should be understandable and logical;
  • Your logo in the website header should look like a hyperlink that refers to the homepage of your website.

Off Page Optimization

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Analyze the quality and quantity of the current backlinks for your website
It is important to analyze a number of backlinks you have on your website in order to take some measures to improve and increase a great number of quality backlinks.
Some useful tips about backlinks:
  • Analyze how much your backlinks are natural and unique;
  • Check all anchors that refer to your website and how much they are effective;
  • Check all errors that can be in your backlinks, detect all broken links, 404 errors and etc;
  • Detect what web pages are more visited and what ones are less visited. Think how to improve this page or pages.
Analyze backlinks of your competitors
Find top 10 competitors in your field and analyze the following:
  • The front page and the main landing pages on their PR, domain age, backlinks, page weight;
  • What trusted websites refer to them;
  • What anchors your competitors are using and try to get the same backlink for your website. The best way to get it is to offer quality and exclusive content to that website.
You can analyze competitors' backlinks with the following tools: Majesctic SEO, Ahrefs, Opensiteexplorer.
Constantly Control the Quality of you Backlinks
Quality and good backlinks play a significant role in SEO that's why it is important to get lots of quality and natural backlinks than just pay attention to its quantity
Some tips how to get good backlinks:
  • Check each page and resource, Goolge PR, a number of backlinks for each page, geographical location;
  • Use your keywords in anchor text that will help search engines to detect the relevancy of your backlinks;
  • Try to get Dofollow backlinks that are indexed by search engines as they give a significant weight to the web page. Therefore, if you have a blog site and some articles have links that refer to trusted resources you should make the nofollow tag for these links and Google will ignore such kind of bakclinks.
Interact with other websites that have similar topics
There are a large number of topical websites with good traffic and authority that you can cooperate to improve your site rankings. Fresh, informative and useful topics can be a good occasion to get quality backlinks on such websites. You have heard a lot about guest posting. Although Matt Cutts published a bunch of articles about guest posting it won't disable you to get more traffic and users with this way.
What you should pay attention:
  • Be creative and bright to write quality article with infographics, videos, images and etc. Google loves such articles that can affect your keyword positions in search engine results.
  • Use only unique and new material.
  • Publish your articles on quality and trusted websites with good traffic and authority.
  • Try to keep balance and post articles 2-5 articles per week. You shouldn't post 10-20 articles per week as Google will see you use guest posting as the basic way to get backlinks.
  • Firstly, write for people, define your target audience and detect what they really want and their FAQ. The best way to find out that is to read forums and blogs that can give good ideas to write useful articles.
  • Insert the anchor text where it can be really needful to give additional information.
  • Use some real stories, use humour that can attract people's attention.
What you should avoid:
  • DON'T use guest posting as the main way of website promotion.
  • DON'T write too optimized articles.
  • DON'T post your articles on low quality and non topical websites.
  • DON'T use duplicate and spin content.
  • DON'T insert a lot of backlinks in your articles for link building.
Discuss topical questions on forums and blogs
It is a good way to discuss and give some tips about your topic on forums and blogs, for example, you can recommend some services or products to use. Try to create profile authority on topical forums. Become an expert in your field. If it is possible you can post your link in signatures, in profiles or in the comment itself (in case you mention about your product or something else). But make sure that an administrator of a forum is not against it.
It is not necessary to register on such forums and insert your links in the first comment. You can be banned and won't get any sense from that link as it will be deleted. If you post a link on forums make sure that this link is dofollow. What is really great is to create your own forum and take an active participation into forum discussions. What concerns blogs, read only topical and interesting articles for you where you can really leave comments with your link that will help people to get additional information, cast back author's opinion or just give some advice about something. Leave comments on blogs with good authority and traffic as these kinds of blogs will give significant results. Try to choose dofollow blogs, but you can vary them with nofollow blogs, of course, if a blog site is really worthy. You should notice that most of comments are moderated that's why you should write more extended and good comments, but not just "Thank for your article" or "It is a really informative article" as you can just like or tweet and the author will know you like his article. Don't spam and post comments on non topical and low quality websites in order to get more backlinks on your website. Make sure if you have a lot of spam links you can get Google penalties.
Answers the Questions in Your Field
You should take an active participation to answer questions in Yahoo Answers, Google Answers, Answer Bag. Try to post broad and useful answers. If you want to give more additional information you can insert the link in your answer. Avoid spam and don't need to place your links wherever you want. Include the links where they really need in order to completely disclose the entire answer.

Additional info: How do Yahoo!, Web Search History

Write reviews about your product, website, service
If you want to advertise your website, product, tool, you can write reviews or ask your friends to help you. Try to post your reviews on good and topical websites that can be useful for people.
Write a well-detailed review that people can view all benefits of your product, mention some key features that differ you from your competitors. Make it catching, try to avoid terminology as some people can't know them what will cause some difficulties. If you decide to use some terms, try to explain them into your reviews. Reviews should be clear, understandable and well-formed. Don't need to write just about these features that other competitors also have. Be creative!
Website promotion with images and videos
You should publish images about your products, services, companies on your website. Make them quite available for users on your website and in social media. You can post your articles in Flickr, Picasa, Picli, Photo Bucket and etc. Try to create unique and picturesque images and use the same size for each one:
  • Create useful and informative images;
  • Detect your target audience and post those images people want;
  • Be creative while making exclusive pictures;
  • Induce your target audience to call.
Like images, you can publish your videos, experts opinions, interviews with famous peoples, product reviews on YouTube, Dailymotion, Metacafe, Google Videos and etc.
  • Create interesting and useful videos, use some humor, don't use lots of texts into videos;
  • Don't forget to mention about your brand;
  • Don't make videos too long, make it short and clear (it depends on your topic);
  • Call your users into action;
  • Make audience orientated videos and take into account their preferences and needs.
Use Press Releases
The principal of operation is the same one while you write a common article for a website, but press releases have an informative and logical structure. You can write everything about your product, about a new event, about company rewards and etc. They are considered as a sort of ads that cover a range of news and events for your website or company. To write quality and well-optimized press releases and post on trusted resources will help you scoop and get good results in search engines. It is advised not to use anchor links for your website from Press Releases – just use plain hypelinked URL.
What you should avoid:
  • Don't spam;
  • Avoid keyword stuffing in your articles;
  • Don't publish your press releases on low quality websites;
  • Don't write duplicate and rewritten press releases.
What you should pay attention:
  • Write informative and useful material that will engage users and induce them to get more detailed information about your product, company and etc;
  • Use 2-3 keywords in a press release;
  • Write unique press releases;
  • Leave your contacts and website address that people can find you at any time;
  • All press releases are written in third person;
  • Publish your press releases on quality and good websites with high PR and good traffic;
  • Use multimedia files, for example, images, videos and etc;
  • Use subtitles, highlight an important information in bold or italic;
  • At the begging of your press releases you should include your logo that people can define your brand name.

Social Media Management

0/4

Learn the Social Signals Model of Your Industry
Add Social Media Buttons to Your Website
You can do so manually or by using one of the multiple Social Media button plugins available for virtually any CMS: Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Blogger and other. Encourage your visitors to follow you and do not complicate things missing Social buttons. Stop losing a fair part of your potential and social active audience at this point.
Be Aware of What is Worth Sharing
Once you have created accounts in Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and etc. you gain potential not only to get additional traffic but also an extra positive ranking factor and increased user-friendliness. It is always a good idea to promote your fresh articles via social networks. Try to share only informative and worthy material and don't publish minor updates.
To attract more people on your social pages you should make the following things:
  • Share only interesting, useful and new content;
  • Share videos, infographics, charts, tables and other multimedia;
  • Make some contests, polls, events, webinars that can engage your fans;
  • Make some interviews with famous people, experts in a specific field;
  • Analyze audience activity, what they need, FAQ, give them useful tips;
  • Take an active participation in discussions, ask people's opinion about products or etc;
  • Try to get real FB likes, Google+ Shares, Tweets, don't use autofollowing services and bots;
  • Remember to Include your links into social profiles;
Use Social Bookmarking to Get Occasional Links
Social websites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Propeller have been in the industry long before Social Signals became so important. Be careful and use only quality social bookmarking sites. Pay attention to tags writing that can overspread news and articles over the whole social network.
 
Although this method is out-dated many webmaster still use it as the basic way to get a number of no-follow backlinks, a ranking factor of being mentioned. In general search engine systems like social bookmarking websites and they often crawl through them. So if you have some updates and news on your website you can add your news in social bookmarking sites.