Best Practices for Optimising Pages

Search Engine Optimisation for Individual Pages

 

A question I get asked all the time is, how do I rank number one on Google or get me to the top. It is important to know that there is no quick solution for this. There are many different techniques in Search Engine Optimisation and one of them is on site optimisation, also known as on-page optimisation.There are a set of best practices to follow – however there is a lot more to it. Do not forget your Content or Inbound Marketing.

 

HTML HEAD TAGS

 

Title

 

Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.

 

Meta Description

 

Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages. Meta descriptions are commonly used on search engine result pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page.

Meta description tags, while not important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in gaining user click-through from SERPs. These short paragraphs are a webmaster’s opportunity to advertise content to searchers and to let them know exactly whether the given page contains the information they’re looking for.

The meta description should employ the keywords intelligently, but also create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. Direct relevance to the page and uniqueness between each page’s meta description is key. The description should optimally be between 150-160 characters.

 

Meta Keywords

 

The meta keyword tag found in the head of most Web documents has little effect for Google, Bing and many of the other larger search engines any more, however some search engines such as Yahoo do still make use of the meta tags as part of their algorithm – so again this is something you should still continue to provide.

While it is true that many search engines do not use the information, they do still read the information – so make sure that your tags are relevant and descriptive of the content. As a rule of thumb, your main keywords should feature in your title, meta description, meta keywords and within the first few paragraphs of the content. If they don’t, then consider whether you need to include them as keywords.

 

Meta Robots

 

The robots meta tag lets you utilise a granular, page-specific approach to controlling how an individual page should be indexed and served to users in search results.

The robots exclusion protocol (REP), or robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl and index pages on their website.

 

Rel=”Canononical”

 

Canonicalization for SEOs refers to normalizing (redirecting to a single dominant version) multiple URLs.

The tag is part of the HTML header on a web page, the same section you’d find the Title attribute and Meta Description tag. In fact, this tag isn’t new, but like nofollow, simply uses a new rel parameter. For example:

http://www.imsmarketing.ie/blog” />

 

URLS

URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is a subset of the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that specifies where an identified resource is available and the mechanism for retrieving it.

 

Length

 

Shorter URLS appear to perform better in search results and are more likely to be copied/pasted by other sites, shared and linked to.
URLs must be shorter than 2083 characters to render in Internet Explorer (4-8).

 

Keyword Location

 

The closer the targeted keyword(s) are to the domain name, the better.

i.e. http://www.example.com/category-keyword/subcategory-keyword/primary-keyword.html

Thus http://www.example.com/keyword outperforms http://www.example.com/folder/subfolder/keyword and it is the recommended method of optimisation. The excepetion to the rule is product pages or e-commerce sites. In most cases , www.example.com/keyword-product-name is the best.

 

Subdomain versus Subfolder

 

A subfolder is a container that resides under a parent folder on a server. It represents one step in the site hierarchy, generally beginning with the home page as the main parent with extra pages added on as subfolders. The URL structure of a subfolder generally follows this format:

http://www.maindomain.com/subfolder/

A subdomain is a domain that is a smaller part of a larger (or root) domain. In a search engine’s eyes, a subdomain behaves more like its own website than a subfolder, and not as much (and some SEOs say none at all) authority is transferred from the root domain as with a subfolder. A subdomain’s URL structure is as follows:

http://subdomain.maindomain.com/

 

Word Seperators

 

Use hyphens to separate words when necessary for readability. They should not use underscores, spaces, or any other characters to separate words. Overuse of hyphens in URLs can be seen as spammy, so it’s best to use caution and limit hyphen use in URLs when possible.

 

BODY TAGS

 

Number of Keyword Repetitions

 

It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact, optimal number of times to employ a keyword term/phrase on the page, but the  simple rule of thumb serves us well – “2-3X on short pages, 4-6X on longer ones and never more than makes sense in the context of the copy.” The added benefit of another instance of a term is so miniscule, that it seems unwise to ever be aggressive with this metric.

 

Keyword Usage Variations

 

Long suspected to influence search engine rankings, the theory that varied keyword usage throughout a page can help with content optimisation and optimisation nevertheless is worth a small amount of effort. I recommend employing at least one or two variations of a term and potentially splitting up keyword phrases and using them in body copy as well or instead.

 

H1 Headline

 

The H1 tag has long been thought to have great importance in on-page optimisation. Recent correlation data from various studies i.e. MOZ and Search Engine Rankings, however, has shown that it has a very low correlation with high rankings. While this is compelling evidence, correlation is not causation and for semantic and SEO reasons, I still advise proper use of the H1 tag as the headline of the page and, preferably, usage of the targeted keyword term/phrase.

 

H2/H3/H4/Hx

 

Even lower in importance than the H1, my recommendation is to apply only where  required. These tags appears to carry little to no SEO value.

 

Alt Attribute

 

Surprisingly, the alt attribute, long thought to carry little SEO weight, was shown to have quite a robust correlation with high rankings in various studies from Moz, Search Engine Land. Thus, I strongly advise the use of a graphic image/photo/illustration on important keyword-targeted pages with the term/phrase employed in the alt attribute of the img tag.

 

Image Filename

 

Since image traffic can be a substantive source of visits and image filenames appear to be valuable for this as well as natural web search, I  suggest using the keyword term/phrase as the name of the image file used for the page.

 

Bold/Strong

 

Using a keyword in bold/strong appears to carry a very, very tiny amount of SEO weight, and thus it’s suggested as a best practice to use the targeted term/phrase at least once in bold, though a very minor one.

 

Italtic/Emphasized

 

Surprisingly, italic/emphasized text appears to have a similar to slightly higher correlation with high rankings than bold/strong and thus, I suggest its use on the targeted keyword term/phrase in the text.

 

Internal Link Anchors

 

Various SEO tests has yet found that internal anchors are picked up/counted by the engines.

 

HTML Comments

 

As above, it appears the engines ignore text in comments.

 

 

Pie Chart

 

An Ideally Optimised Web Page

 

An ideal web page should do all of the following:

• Be hyper-relevant to a specific topic (usually a product or single object)
o Include subject in title tag
o Include subject in URL
o Include subject in image alt text
o Specify subject several times throughout text content

• Provide unique content about a given subject

• Link back to its category page

• Link back to its subcategory page (If applicable)

• Link back to its homepage (normally accomplished with an image link showing the website logo on the top left of a page)

 

If you have anymore questions, please contact me at maricka@imsmarketing.ie or phone 091 739450

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