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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips

Everything you need to know about Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be an important part of building and launching a website. It is a good idea to implement all of the sufficient Search Engine Optimizations before going live with your site. Most website designers or developers do not include Search Engine Optimization as part of their services (it is considered a different specialty and service), so if you are not aware of the importance of Search Engine Optimization, you may launch your website with improperly formatted tags that are not optimized for Search Engines and that can hurt your site's indexing and ranking with Search Engines.

In general, SEO optimization will help Google and Bing better index and rank your pages. So if you incorporate the best SEO optimization, then your pages will yield a higher targeted rate of page views.

In this article, I'll go over some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips. Please note that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is different than Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which is more involved marketing strategies and executions. I'll go over Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in my next article.

Below are some SEO tips:

Create Unique Titles, Meta Descriptions, Meta Keywords, Headings and Alt Image Tags, and Search Engine Friendly URLs:

Titles

A page title is what is shown on top of the browser's tab or window bar for each page.

The most important aspect of search engine optimization is to have page titles that are well thought out and are related to each page. This is because Google, Bing and other search engines use page titles as the heading of each search result. And since they are used as headings in search results, you'll want to ensure that these titles catch the reader's attention. However be careful about the wording of each title as it needs to reflect and be related to the content of your page.

Titles should be short, about 50 characters or less, and have keywords related to each page. For example, if you provide Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services, your Title page should say: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services.

If you are hiring a web developer to build your site, make sure to ask about SEO and make sure that a unique Title for each page is included. You may want to put together the unique, related Titles for each page and email them to your Web Developer or SEO company and ask them to add those titles to your pages.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Comentum CMS, etc., ask your developer to make sure that you know how to edit the Title tag in your pages.

If you are doing your own HTML and SEO work, include the unique Title in the Title tag like the below example:
<title> Title goes here </title>

Best Practices for putting together page's Titles:
- The Title of a page should be the topic for the page and describe the page's content in about 50 characters or less.

Avoid:
- Using Titles that have no relationship or is not relevant to the pages' content.
- Using the same Title across all of your pages.
- Using lenghty Titles (Title should be about 50 characters or less).
- Do not add keywords to the Titles that are unrelated to the page's content.

Meta Description Tags

A Meta Description is a short description of each page in a website. Meta Description tags contain this short description and it is hidden from a website visitor's view and it is read and indexed by Search Engines. It is what is shown in Google or Bing search results below the Title link.

The Meta Description should be between 160 - 180 characters and have a description about the page. Also, include some keywords related to the page in the Meta Description.

If you are hiring a web developer to build your site, make sure that they include a unique Meta Description for each page. You may want to put together the unique, related Meta Description for each page and email it to your Web Developer or SEO company and ask them to add those Meta Descriptions to your pages.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Comentum CMS, etc. ask your developer to make sure that you know how to edit the Meta Description tag in your pages.

If you are doing your own SEO, include the unique short description in the Meta Description tag like below example:
<meta name="description" content="short description goes here">

Best Practices for putting together page's Meta Description:
- The Meta Description of a page should be the summary information about the page's content between 160 - 180 characters.

Avoid:
- Using Meta Descriptions that have no relationship or is not relevant to the pages' content.
- Using the same Meta Descriptions across all of your pages.
- Using short or lenghty Meta Descriptions (Meta Descriptions should be between 160 - 180 characters).
- Do not add keywords to the Meta Descriptions that are unrelated to the page's content.

Meta Keywords Tags

Meta Keywords is the list of keywords in each page in a website. Meta Keywords tags contain this list of keywords and it is hidden from a website visitor's view and it is read and indexed by some Search Engines.

There are no set rules as to the number of characters or keywords for Meta Keywords. As long as you use the related keywords for each page inside the Meta Keywords, it is acceptable.

If you are hiring a web developer to build your site, make sure that they include unique Meta Keywords for each page. You may want to put together the unique, related Meta Keywords for each page and email it to your Web Developer or SEO company and ask them to add those Meta Keywords to your pages.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Comentum CMS, etc. ask your developer to make sure that you know how to edit the Meta Keywords tag in your pages.

If you are doing your own HTML and SEO work, include the unique keywords in the Meta Keywords tag like below example:
<meta name="keywords" content="keywords goes here">

Best Practices for putting together page's Meta Keywords:
- The Meta Keyword of a page should be the keyword list related to the page's content.

Avoid:
- Using Meta Keywords that have no relationship or is not relevant to the pages' content.
- Using the same Meta Keywords across all of your pages.
- Do not use keywords to the Meta Keywords that are unrelated to the page's content.

H1, H2, H3, .. Tags

Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) are used in the HTML code to specify the headlines and sub-headlines for pages. H1 tag should only be used once per page as the main headline and it should include the main keywords for that page. H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 tags are the sub-headlines and can be used more than once and as the sub-information for each page.

Google and Bing view a page's main headline (the content within the H1 tag) as an important part of their indexing. So after the Title, the Headline of a page should be considered as the second most important part of a page and make sure that the headline has the proper keyword(s) related to each page.

If you are hiring a web developer to build and add your content to your site, make sure to provide them with at least one headline per page and ask them to use Heading Tag(s) (H1, H2, etc.) for pages headline and sub-headlines.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Comentum CMS, ask your developer to make sure that you know how to include heading tags in your pages.

If you are doing your own HTML and SEO work, include the headline tag like below example:
<h1>Main Headline goes here</h1>

Best Practices for putting together page's Headlines:
- Each page must have at least one <H1> tag (Main Headline).
- The <H1> or Main Headline should be a short outline explaining the pages content (very similar to Title tag).
- <H2>, <H3>, <H4>, <H5>, <H6> tags should only be used to outline sub-sections of a page. They should be a short outline explaining each section's content.

Avoid:
- Using multiple <H1> tags per page; use <H2>, <H3>, etc. to outline secondary or sub-sections of a page.
- Do not add keywords to the <H1> tag that are not relavant to the page.
- Do not use excessive keywords in <H1> tags (1-2 keywords outlining the page should be sufficient).
- Do not add keywords to the <H2>, <H3>, etc tag that are not relavant to the section that they are outlining.
- Do not use excessive keywords in <H2>, <H3>, etc tags (1-2 keywords outlining each section should be sufficient).
- Do not use <H2>, <H3>, <H4>, <H5>, <H6> tags unless you need them to outline subsections.

Image Alt Tags

Image Alt Tags are used to explain the descriptions of images in a page. Google and Bing search engine robots can only read text that describes the graphic or photo images. So, always include the Image Alt Tag with the text description of each image. If the image is sending a message to a user with keywords, include that message in the Alt Image Tag. It is also good accessibility practice for users who cannot see the images.

If you are hiring a web developer to build your site, make sure that they include Image Alt tags when images exist. You may want to put together the description of each image and send it to your web developer for adding to the image tags.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Comentum CMS, etc. ask your developer to make sure that you know how to edit the Image Alt Tags in your pages.

If you are doing your own HTML and SEO work, include the Image Alt Tag (it is the content within the alt) like below example:
<img src="seo-banner.jpg" alt="Search Engine Optimization Tips">

Best Practices for putting together page's Headlines:
- Include Image Alt Tags for all of your images.
- Each Image Alt tag should describe each image.

Avoid:
- Using Image Alt Tags that have no relationship or is not relevant to the images or do not describe the images accurately.
- Do not add keywords to the Image Alt Tags that are unrelated to the image.

Search Engine Friendly URLs

It is a good idea to build your URLs so they have proper keyword(s) related to each page. Below is a good example of a URL that has proper keywords and formatting:

http://www.comentum.com/comentum-ecommerce/search-engine-optimization-seo-tips.html

If you are hiring a web developer to build your site, make sure that they use properly formatted URLs with related keywords. You can always ask your web developer to use similar keywords as Title or Headline for each page or you can get creative and use alternative related keywords and email it to your web developer and ask them to use those URLs for your pages.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Comentum CMS, etc. ask your developer to make sure that you know how to create Search Engine Friendly URLs.

Best Practices for pages links:
- The link to a page should be about 1-2 keywords (preferably separated by hyphens or underscores) relavant to the page's content. - If you're using directories, use about 1-2 keywords per directory (in my opinion, try using one keyword if possible - using lenghty directory names with multiple keywords may be considered spam) and in the directory, only use content related to that directory and keyword.

Avoid:
- Using inconsistent capitalization, it is better to use all lower case in the URLs names.
- Using keywords that have no relationship or is not relevant to the pages' content.
- Using lengthy links that contains unnecessary parameters and session IDs.
- Using generic page names like "page1.html"
- Using excessive keywords (My opinion, using more than two keywords in the link may consider excessive).
- If you're using directories, avoid using lenghthy directory names with excessive keywords and make sure that the content inside the directories are related to that directory.
- If you're using directories, avoid using deep nesting directories and subdirectories.

Proper Linking and Link Names:

It is a good idea to have proper linking that is available and visible from the main page, category pages, sub-category pages, and sitemap. Also, the link name should be properly formatted with proper keywords related to the page that it is linking to. You can always use the Title or Headline as the link name.

For example, if the link is for the "Search Engine Optimization SEO Tips" page, the link name should say: Search Engine Optimization SEO Tips. This link name matches the page's Title and Headline which is an acceptable method.

Below is an example of properly formatted link name:

<a href="http://www.comentum.com/comentum-ecommerce/search-engine-optimization-seo-tips.html"> Search Engine Optimization SEO tips </a>

Best Practices for pages links:
- The link name to a page should be about 1-2 keywords relavant to the page's content.

Avoid:
- Having multiple domains, subdomains or root directory linking to the same page for example: do not allow www.yourdomain.com and yourdomain.com linking to the home page.
- Using keywords that have no relationship or is not relevant to the pages' content.
- Using lengthy link names with unnecessary keywords.
- Using excessive keywords (My opinion, using more than two keywords in the link name may consider excessive).
- If you're using directories, avoid using lenghthy directory names with excessive keywords and make sure that the content inside the directories are related to that directory.
- If you're using directories, avoid using deep nesting directories and subdirectories.

Sitemaps:

There are two types of site maps:
- A Google or Bing Formatted Sitemap- These are XML formatted sitemaps built based on Google and Bing specifications and have the listing of all of your pages and links to them. (Tthis is different than a regular sitemap for a website which is HTML formatted.) There are many software applications that you can use to generate an XML formatted sitemap for Search Engines.

- A website regular HTML Sitemap -This is a regular HTML formatted sitemap that has the links to all of your pages, and is visible to your site visitors and it is usually linked from your home page, and categorized for easy viewing and linking.

It is a good idea to create both types of sitemaps for your site, keep them updated and upload them to your site. On the next section, I'll explain how to use Google or Bing Formatted Sitemaps.

Sign up for Webmaster Account with Google and Bing:

It is a good idea to sign up with Google and Bing Webmaster accounts. Google and Bing Search Engines have Webmaster Tools for validating your pages and providing recommendations for improving and fixing improperly formatted pages. It is the best method to hear directly from the source, Search Engines, as to how your site is being viewed and indexed by Search Engines and your site's traffic information from the Search Engines.

Below are the links:
Google Webmater Tools:
http://www.google.com/webmasters/

Bing Webmater Tools:
http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

You can create and upload the XML formatted sitemap to your Google and Bing Webmaster account section so they can better index your pages.

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are one of the most powerful tools that you can use to learn about your site's SEO directly from the source. There are a lot of features that those tools offer that are beyond the mission of this article. I'll write another article in this area which falls under the Search Engine Marketing section.

Bernard Kohan

Bernard Kohan is a mobile app and web application development and technology analyst expert. He is available to discuss any issues or questions you have about web development and the best choices for your company or project.

Bernard can be reached at
858-410-1500


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