Ranking in search engine results is much more than just optimizing one element of a page. Hence, the reason for this blog post, with the hope that it will be useful to webmasters that are new to the topic of search engine optimization and wish to improve their websites’ interaction with both users and search engines. This blog will outline the best practices to make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
This blog is written with the hope of giving you some fresh ideas on how to improve your website.
Note: Search engine optimization affects only organic search results, not paid or sponsored results such as Google AdWords.
Create unique, accurate page titles
The Page Title Tag (HTML Title Element) is still, however, arguably the most important on-page SEO factor to address on any web page.
Keywords in page titles can help your pages rank higher in results pages (SERPs). The page title is also often used by search engines as the title of a search snippet link in search engine results pages. Keywords in page titles often end up as links to your web page.
Make use of the “description” meta tag
A page’s description meta tag gives search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page’s title may be a few words or a phrase, a page’s description meta tag might be a sentence or two or a short paragraph. (Advisable to be between 120 and 156 characters).
Improve the structure of your URLs
Simple-to-understand URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site and will convey content information easily. Also, it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines.
Bad URL Example: http://www.yourdomain.com/online.store/products/77650/show.html
Make your website easier to navigate
The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important.
Make your site easier to navigate
Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into your internal link structure.
A simple site map page with links to all of the pages or the most important pages on your site can be useful. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your site helps ensure that search engines discover the pages on your site.
Offer quality content and services
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means.
Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your website’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.
Optimize your use of images
Images may seem like a straightforward component of your site, but you can optimize your use of them. All images can have a distinct filename and “alt” attribute, both of which you should take advantage of. The “alt” attribute allows you to specify alternative text for the image if it cannot be displayed for some reason.
Why use this attribute? If a user is viewing your site on a browser that doesn’t support images, or is using alternative technologies, such as a screen reader, the contents of the alt attribute provide information about the picture.
Another reason is that if you’re using an image as a link, the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link.
Lastly, optimizing your image filenames and alt text makes it easier for image Search to better understand your images.
Use heading tags appropriately
The six heading elements, H1 through H6, denote section headings. Although the order and occurrence of headings is not constrained by the HTML DTD, documents should not skip levels (for example, from H1 to H3), as converting such documents to other representations is often problematic.
However, you do not need to use all six HTML elements to structure your pages.
<h1>Website Design Basics<h1>
<p>Here is some text</p>
<p>Here is some text</p>
<p>Here is some text</p>
Make effective use of robots.txt
Web site owners use the /robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to web robots; this is called The Robots Exclusion Protocol.
It works like this: a robot wants to vists a Web site URL, say http://www.example.com/welcome.html. Before it does so, it firsts checks for http://www.example.com/robots.txt, and finds:
Make use of free webmaster tools
Major search engines provide free tools for webmasters. Using Webmaster Tools won’t help your site get preferential treatment; however, it can help you identify issues that, if addressed, can help your site perform better in search results. With the service, webmasters can:
- see which parts of a site had problems crawling
- notify us of an XML Sitemap file
- analyze and generate robots.txt files
- remove URLs already crawled by bots
- specify your preferred domain
- identify issues with title and description meta tags
- understand the top searches used to reach a site
- get a glimpse at how bots see pages
- remove unwanted sitelinks that search engines may use in results
- receive notification of quality guideline violations and request a site reconsideration
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