Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips

Posted by roinah on Saturday, November 12, 2011

by Greg Kerr

Consider these useful tips to making your Web site more search engine friendly:

1. Write good, clear text content without typos. The text should include words that are likely going to be used by people in search engines to find pages like yours.

2. Have a relevant title (title tag text) on all your pages. Consider using the site/company name (not the URL) in conjunction with what the specific page is about. It's also important to have different titles on other pages, although they can all include the site/company name. If your company is Nifty Tours, and the page is a contact form, a good choice is:

Nifty Tours | Contact
Nifty Tours | Contact us about your travel needs

The W3C has determined, for the compliant browser, that the title should be no more than 64 characters. Some search engines cut off titles that are over 40 or 50 characters in their databases.

3.                 Use keywords in your text content, but avoid keyword stuffing which can have your site excluded from search engines. This Wikipedia article about keyword density can help you determine how often you should use certain words on your site. This keyword analyzer can show you how your pages rank in terms of density.

4.                 Always have alt text on all your images and area maps (hotspots). The alt text should be relevant to the picture and in proper English. Use the title attribute with non-image objects, like Flash, in the same way. Also, it's best that the alt text on every picture of your site is unique -- if the image is duplicated on every page, like a logo, you can still use different alt text on each one on each page.

5.                 Do not use hidden text: text the same color as background, div with visibility: hidden property or display: none, or have text placed outside of normal browser window. Search engines, like Google, can detect this and will either lower your ranking, or remove your pages from their databases. (This is considered "Black Hat" SEO.)

6.                 Straight-forward HTML links are preferable, not Javascript or Flash links.

7.                 The text used in your a tags should include text related to the target and, if possible, keywords related to the content of your site/page. This gives you a double bonus because the text is considered text content and is read by the search engine in that context, then the search engine reads it a second time as link content.

8.                 Avoid duplicate content on separate pages. Google and other search engines take into account the number of links pointing to your page to determine how important your web page is. If you have identical content appearing on two different pages on your website, some sites will link to one page while others will link to the alternate page. The result is that neither of those pages will be regarded as very important in the search engine's index since you have effectively halved the links pointing to your article.

9.                 Validate your HTML (or XHTML) and CSS.

10.            Meta tag keywords and descriptions are useful for many search engines. Though their relevance has changed over time, currently it's best to use them than to not use them. Try not to make them sound too generic:

Stick with specific nouns and their relevant adjectives for your keywords. Avoid stop words such as "a", "an", "and", "the", etc., because they so common they no longer are useful as keywords. For example, if you're selling boxes on your site, be specific about what kinds of boxes. Instead of "boxes" use "cardboard boxes".

For keywords in the meta tag, use a maximum of 45 words or 1000 characters. Always put the most important first. Google doesn't use these, though other search engines do.

For descriptions in the meta tag, use a maximum of 150 characters.

Here's a keyword discussion forum that provides many useful ideas for writing and using keywords.

11.            Use real URL links as opposed to Dynamic URL links as described in this article:

12.            Update your content regularly, if possible. Consider using an interactive forum or blogs on your site that have articles that are posted regularly. Having articles that users can comment on will cause your pages to update more frequently in search engines.

13.            Avoid frames.

14.            Use real headings with h1 through h6. It's best to have only one h1 tag per page and have it close to the opening of the body tag. The h1 should also be unique content on each of your pages and be related to the content of the page. The h1 is really the topic statement that summarizes what the page is about, so it should be clear and related. The use of h tags is very important to how search engines categorize your content in their databases. Use them like you would an outline (that you may have learned about in a writing class):

1.     Main Topic of the page (h1)
a.     Sub-topic 1 (h2)
                                                                                                                                      i.      sub-sub-topic 1 (h3)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      sub-sub-topic 2 (h3)
b.     Sub-topic 2 (h2)

15.            Use links from your site that go to sites that are related. Broken links will likely hurt your SEO.

16.            Get linked to.

17.            XML Site Maps are useful to include in your site. Google has more information about these in their free Web Developer's tools.

If you are targeting Google directly, here are some useful ideas:

Other interesting links:

XHTML Validation

CSS Validation


Web Site Statistics

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