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Google, Bing Yahoo Search Engine Optimization Checklist - Part Two

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In the last post I touched on making your website 'crawler friendly' and creating better accessibilty for search engine robots by creating better site structure.

In this installment we will look at 'On Page' SEO and why it's important. Starting with the <head> tag of a given web page on your site let's take a look at optimizing the title tag. the meta description and the meta keyword tag. 

Head Tag Elements

Title Tag

Titles should be relevant to the content on your page, unique and in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 characters in maximum length, including spaces and punctuation. 

Think carefully about what you put in the title tag. Each word should have value for both the site visitor and for the search engine crawlers indexing your website.

Another thing to keep in mind is that words at the beginning of the web page title are given prominence over the ones that follow. Choose wisely.

Meta Description Tag

Descriptions should be unique, relevant to the page content and less than160 characters including spaces. It often tempting to cut/copy/paste the description across your website but you should resist the urge. Take the time and do it up right. With page optimization even little things can count so hang in there.

Meta Keyword Tag

Although the days when keywords ruled the organic search rankings roost are long gone, keywords are worth considering even though they are now largely ignored by the major search engines. There are rumors that Yahoo and some lower tier search engines still utilize them in their search algorithms if they match keywords in the page copy, so, what the heck. If nothing else they will help you focus on the keywords you are going to include in your page copy.

Also , make sure that you don't inadvertently include more than one title and description per page.

Body Tag Elements

The H1 Tag

H1 tags are used by most search engines to some degree or another to determine what the page is about in general terms. The bottom line here is that you should be really careful about the text that you place in them.

Although many SEO recommendations hold that there should only be one H1 tag per page, HTML5 encourages the use of multiple H1 tags when each additional H1 is properly nested inside another elements such as an <article>, <section> or an <aside>. 

So will you be penalized? Not by Google. Google employee and search engine guru Matt Cutts says multiple H1 tags shouldn't be used as keyword spam, but if they makes sense in a given context they are absolutely fine. I'd bet that the other major engines are doing the same thing since HTML5 is finally on the rise.

The Alt Tag

<alt> tags should be present for all content-related images and they should contain text that explains each image using targeted keywords.

These tags are becoming increasingly important especially for the visually impaired. Screen readers rely on them to provide spoken descriptions of the images on the page. It's not only a cool thing to do, it's required for many corporations, some institutions and all levels of government. And hey, they're great for SEO too.

Make sure any keyword text that you use in the <alt> tag also appears in your body copy. If they don't a search engine might assume that you are trying to do some keyword spamming, and you certainly don't want to risk that.

The Anchor Tag

Your site should employ targeted keywords in the anchor text of any internal links on your website. These links will be followed by the crawlers so it a good practice to associate the keywords with the link destination in this manner. Take time to think about the text in the link (rhyme completely accidental.)

That's it for this installment. Next time we will look at the content in general and also at links. Stay tuned!