Every website that want their content to be read by more people need to do SEO. With SEO you can make your website or web page show in search top results. Of course coupled with a good content that visitors will loved will give you a boost in search rankings. An optimized website for search engine will be able to tap a large potential audience.
So here are the list that SEO beginners should do.
If you are using a Content Management System(CMS) like Wordpress or Drupal. Then it is more likely that you are using a GET parameter based URLs and not the clean ones. Clean URLs looks like
www.example.com/category/mycontent and if yours does not look like that but more like
www.example.com/index.php?id=2 then you are not using clean URLs. Check your CMS settings panel and there should be one for making your CMS use clean URLs.
If you have built your own CMS from the ground then I think it will be easy for you to make these changes. You might be already using clean URLs because most of the web frameworks out there have support for slug type fields.
Keep Your Title Short
Make your article or blog post title short. By short I mean around 45-60 characters. This is so that when your page is presented by Google in a search result your title won't be truncated. Also making your title concise won't make your content appear spammy.
404 to 301
Now if your website is already live and your contents are already indexed by search engines. Then you have made changes to your URLs because you we're using non clean URLs or because of some other reasons. Then you will need to make sure that the old URLs permanently redirects to the new one using code 301 and not 302. Error page 404 or page not found is not good for a website because you are losing a potential visitor by not showing them what they were looking for but instead you showed them an error page.
Use Canonical Rel
If you have a lot of duplicate content then better make sure that you are using canonical rel. Duplicate content are those content reachable from more than 1 URL. I recommend fixing this by using permanent redirect(code 301). Sometimes you have duplicate because of a design like an e-commerce website. A lot of these websites have duplicate content to make sure that you are not penalized by Google on this you will need to add a canonical rel.
For example you have
Avoid Meta Keyword
The meta keywords have been phased out long ago by many search engines. This is because int he past this was abused by many websites. Putting keywords that aren't even relatively the same with what the content is. I suggest dumping the use of meta keyword. If however you really need to put one then make sure that you don't go overboard because you might be penalized by it instead of gaining a rank on your targeted keywords.
SEO is a large topic and it's constantly changing. So if you want to keep up then make sure you are always updated of what Google is adding on it's indexing algorithm.