A Simple Guide to Search Engine Optimization
Webmasters and marketers alike can find the search engine optimization techniques found in this guide to be useful whether they are beginners with no experience or more advanced users looking for a touch up. Many people should realize the most effective optimization for your website can come from a collection of small modifications that will better allow an engine to crawl and index your content. More importantly, people who look to SEO to enhance their visibility must remember in the end that they’re creating content for their users, and not for search engines. The points discussed here will apply to sites of all kinds of sizes and functionalities, and will help you develop something that balances content and presentation with online visibility.
The first part of optimizing your website for search engines effectively is creating unique and accurate page titles. We start with the title tag which is placed in the header of the Html document. Each page should have a unique title. Page titles can often be the most important and effective part of SEO, as they’re the first thing a user sees when looking for content. Page titles are the first lines relating a website displayed in search results, and can determine whether a user goes any further. Make sure to accurately describe your content, avoiding vague descriptions and keeping it brief as much as possible.
Meta tags are a description of the page which appear just under the page title, and can be very useful in making a quick determination of the website’s content. These descriptions go inside the Html’s header text, and if a user searches words that are in your meta tags, then they’ll show up in bold in the results. However, search engines are smart, so you want to avoid filling up your tags with only relevant key words. Keep the descriptions relative and specific, and make sure each page has its own unique meta tags that describe its content.
Modifying the structure of the URL of your website can greatly increase the chances a search engine has to crawl and index keywords. It makes it easier for people to recognize, relay, and remember your website. Websites with URLs that are complicated and lengthy make it hard for engines to pull relevant keywords out to display in search results, and it’s difficult to incorporate links to your site in text. When creating a URL, avoid being generic and using excessive keywords. Also, try to have a structure that relates between all of your sites, and keep a singular URL for each page.
Making sure your website is set up and connected in a very organized manner can help search engines better find content on your site. You first want to set up all navigation to be based around your root page, or your homepage, which all the other sites link back to. Also it’s useful to incorporate ‘breadcrumb lists’, which make it easier for users to navigate throughout pages. When you create your sitemaps, use separate maps, one for your users and one for search engines. An HMTL and XML sitemap file, a functional 404 page, and naturally flowing site hierarchy will make your site navigation come to life.
Many forget that the biggest key to creating great online visibility is to produce content that’s recognizable for its quality which draws people to itself organically. Simply put, it’s something that people want to read or interact with. Other sites that refer to your content will make search engines like your content more than anything.
Create anchor text that’s easy to recognize and informs users of where they’re heading. Anchor text is simply text that users or search engines see concerning the page they’re being linked to. Once again this text shouldn’t be generic, and it should relate to your topics as much as possible and be concise.
Optimizing images can be one of the greatest SEO advancements you can make to your site. Allowing search engines to crawl for filenames and ‘alt’ information for each image will make it easier for them to relate keywords to content on your site. ‘Alt’ information is text that is displayed if images are unable to load for some reason. Make sure the filenames for images are made up of distinct words, and place the images in the XML sitemap you have set apart.
Back end optimization of your content can see a lot of progress when you configure your HTML heading tags in the correct fashion. Heading tags alert readers to important and summary information, and in a lot of instances appear larger than regular text on your page. Crawling and indexing search engine functions take this into account and place their desired weight on this information into their algorithms.
Knowing how to navigate search engine crawlers and make them find what you want them to can be a big resource. One of the first ways to do this is by modifying your robot.txt file. Every website has a ‘robot’ file which tells search engines what and what not to access when crawling your site. You can also add ‘NOINDEX’ to your meta tags, or use password protection on your directories with .htaccess.
Spam is becoming more and more of a problem with user-modified sites and blogging. One of the ways to combat this is by adding ‘nofollowing’ to your anchor tags. This allows you to tell Google or other search engines not to follow content on certain pages, and to restrict message boards and comment columns from showing up in your search results.
The landscape of technology and online viewing is changing with the integration of mobile products like tablets and smartphones. It’s important now more than ever to make sure your website is up to date not only with desktop visibility but with online mobile visibility as well. Mobile SEO differs from normal techniques, so it’s important to make sure your site is being indexed by search engines such as Google and others.
Many times there’s a mix-up between the mobile and desktop versions of your website. Mobile users are incorrectly taken to the desktop version, while desktop users struggle being directed to the mobile version. You should use some simple methods to help correct this. First, you can use redirection to take users to the corresponding sites which comply with the platform they’re using. The next option you have is to utilize a user agent, which uses the same URL, but directs the user to the correct website based on the platform. It’s just important to make sure your site isn’t being misunderstood for cloaking.
Promoting your website through various mediums can greatly increase your online visibility, and will be rewarded by search engines. Using backlinks to do this is something that search engines love, although as with anything else, overdoing it will actually become a detriment. Look to incorporate a blog and social media services which you can use to keep visitors informed about new products and updates which link to your site.
You should also use different Webmaster tools to help ascertain the progress and functionality of the SEO methods you’re incorporating. Webmaster tools will allow you to see what content is being crawled successfully, and data collected will help you modify content like tags and titles. You can also use analytical services to determine what content on your site is getting the most response.
By Candy Lowe
Qode Media Editorial Team