Search engine optimisation best practice checklist

Traffic is the lifeblood of any commercial site; it is surprising how many sites don’t follow best practice basics for search engine optimisation. This article covers key areas to be reviewed and acted upon for a site to stand a chance of a Google and other search engine ranking, against stiff competition.

The article will cover six areas of activity:

  • SEO basics
  • Content for metatags
  • Content for site pages
  • Anchor text
  • Images
  • Heading Tags

SEO Basics

Use title tags effectively to describe pages; have unique title tags, as brief, descriptive titles, for all the site’s primary pages, such as login, registration, FAQ and of course the home page. This is important for two main reasons:

  • When your page appears in a search results page, the title tag contents is usually what is displayed in the first line of the search results. This isn’t always the case, as snippets of a site’s description (see next) or content, if deemed more relevant by Google to the search, can appear instead. However, this is no reason not to have great title tags for your pages;
  • Different title tags for different pages increase your chances of your pages being ranked; if the title tags are identical, the search engines will tend to classify your page content as similar, which can actually downgrade the site’s ranking. Find the time to update the title tags on site pages.

Content – Metatags

Write a short paragraph of unique relevant content describing each page of the site. The format is

<meta name="description" content="dating site for UK singles…etc">

Both the title and description settings can be found in the “metatags” section of the site’s admin panel.

Content – site pages

  • Write easy-to-read text that is well written and easy to follow. Avoid spelling mistakes and bad grammar, as well as PLR articles, most of which are generic and poor quality.
  • Think about a programme of adding fresh and unique content, or refreshing existing text; avoid cut and paste from other sites.
  • Curated content works if it is embellished and developed into new content – think about news sites with similar stories but presented differently / uniquely.
  • Don’t stuff the content with keywords; write it for your visitors, not for search engines.

Anchor text

  • This is clickable text that links either to an internal page that is relevant to the text, or to an external site, again relevant to the text. The better the anchor text, the easier it is for users to navigate and for the search engines to understand what the page being linked to is about.
  • A good example of this is where unique landing pages are created for countries, regions or cities – the anchor text describing the territory should link to a relevant territory unique landing page.
  • Anchor text links should be highlighted in a separate colour within the text to distinguish them; when the mouse pointer hovers over the text, the destination page URL normally appears.
  • To open an anchor text link in a new window, add in “target=_blank” into the anchor text code:
    <a href='http://www.idatefriendship.com" target=_blank>looking for friendship</a>

Images

  • Always include an <alt="xx"> tag in the source filename; this is the image’s description for a search engine to read.
  • The same principles apply of brief, descriptive text, not keyword rich, but relevant.
  • Images should be held ideally in one sub directory.

Heading tags

  • These are used to structure content both for the visitor and the search engines;
  • There are six sizes of heading tags, <h1> to <h6>, with <h1> representing the most important content;
  • Some site CSS structures will influence how the heading tags are presented, so always preview and amend as appropriate;
  • <h1> tags should be used as an introduction to a section, with the other tags deployed beneath, leading to the next main content section;
  • Use then sparingly and don’t overdo it;
  • Use the code <strong>to bold text</strong> where emphasis on specific points is relevant.
  • Use the code “<p>for sections</p><br />”, <p> creating the start of a paragraph or header, and </p>closing it;<br /> places a gap between the sections, separating content in a user friendly way.

A future article will cover

  • Crawlers
  • Mobile sites
  • Promotion and Analysis

In Summary

  • There are some basic SEO steps that must be followed as a foundation for natural search success.
  • Short, descriptive title tags and relevant, unique descriptions for each page are a necessity.
  • Unique content that reflects the page title and description is a natural follow on from the title and description tags.
  • Anchor text to internal and external pages must be relevant to the link;
  • Images must include an <alt=”description”> tag to describe it, and be relevant to the content and page;
  • Heading tags create structure to content and should guide both user and search engine naturally.

Good luck!