At times it can seem to be one of life’s great mysteries (well in my industry anyway!), how to rank well on Google. But sometimes we can out think ourselves, and just need to make sure we cover the bases with good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) foundations.
These foundations are build from a solid understanding of your own business goals, and actual data of what people are looking for and their intent.
Your own business goals should ascertain what you are selling and where you are selling it. From this point you can conduct research using tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool, to see what search volume surrounds these keyword phrases.
Top SEO Components Of An Optimized Page
Let’s get first things first and acknowledge that Google is amazing! They have done a fantastic job of “cleaning” up the internet, creating a better ecosystem for all.
They have made it increasingly difficult for people to cut corners, this is great news for you! If you plan accordingly and dedicate yourself to a sustained effort, Google will “reward” you with high rankings. Further, as you have built this ranking over time, it gives you great residual value.
Back in the wild west days of the internet, Search Engines weren’t so powerful, so people used many “SEO” tricks to get ranked. For the most part, these SEO tricks did not add value to the end user, only fooling the search bots that your site was relevant and / or popular thus ranking you. Fast forward to today, and Google has over 200 ranking factors that are always getting more and more refined…weeding out the bad and ranking the good!
Today we view SEO more as making sure you have all your ducks in line to make sure Google and other Search Engines know what your site is relevant for. Just think of it logically, if you don’t mention your base in Philadelphia how is Google supposed to just “know” that you are, etc…
Remember at the end of the day Search Engines are just machines that have been told to collate an unimaginable amount of data, to render you the best results. So give them a helping hand and make sure you have the basics covered from your keyword plan.
(Please note: we are in no way affiliated with SEOmoz. Below we are using examples from this industry leader as they offer great tools and resources, both free and paid)
SEO Point #1: URL Structure
What URL do you think is better for SEOMoz:
Obviously the first one, as it states you can “learn-seo” and the importance of the “title-tag”. So make sure you have the ability to set “pretty” URLs. This not only makes it easier for humans to read, understand and click, but also search engine bots to correctly index.
SEO Point #2: Title Tag
This is used in the search engine results as the “title” for the page. It is an important marker for search engines and humans to know what a page is all about.
As you can see this title tag is keyword rich, and lets the human user and search engine bot know exactly what the page is all about.
Quick title tag tips / best practices:
- 70 characters long
- Do not repeat words
- Use the bar spacer “|” (above the backslash “\” on most keyboards)
- Make it keyword rich
- If you are a local business / target market include your geographic area like “Philadelphia” or “Philly”
If you want more detailed information this SEOmoz article is great!
If you click the image below you shall see where the Title Tag is shown in the browser. It can offer a good way to navigate around tabs. For instance ESPN has their Title Tag with”ESPN” at the fore so easy to navigate (green arrow). Where as for our site Ag Conexus, we want to rank for Philadelphia, Web Design, and LinkedIn training, and our name / brand is of less importance to us over ranking for those terms.
So don’t just leave it at “Home | Your Company”, as you are missing a BIG opportunity!
SEO Point #3: Meta Description
The meta description gives you a little more wiggle room to write about the page or give a fact as above. Further, current best practices state that 156 characters (including spaces) is the maximum advisable length.
SEO Point #4: Hierarchy Tags (“H” Tags)
Hierarchy tags tell Google what parts of the page are important. In this article the title is a H1 tag, being the most “important” piece of body text. Then I have put in H2 tags, and H3 tags like the one above to order the headings into relative importance.
This also tells your cascading style sheet (CSS) sheets what size to make the font for human users.
Below is what the HTML code looks like for the H3 tag above:
You can clearly see how the style sheet (CSS) changes the appearance for you the end user.
SEO Point #5: Alternative Attributes (“Alt” Attributes)
My final point is the inclusion of Alternative Attributes. They are good for two reasons:
- They help disabled internet users navigate your site with screen reading technology; and
- Search engines read them to “know” what the picture is about, and attributes that to the page
Our site is based on WordPress, and it makes adding this element relatively easy.
The purple arrows highlight the Title of the picture (the URL snip above), many people have some random jazz their digital camera or phone saved the image as. Please remove this to make it more useful for humans and of use for search engines. This is also known as the “hover text”.
As this is not a “traditional” picture, I have used the Alternative Attribute to describe what that picture shows. If you took a picture in Philadelphia, say that, if it’s of three business people say that. Use it to describe the picture, but also sprinkle in a few keywords (but don’t over do it!)
Some Things You Should NOT Do
First off you should not try to cheat or cut corners, at the end of they day it WILL eventually come back to bite you in the butt! Some of the main things we see are:
- Jumping in with no business plan or goals
- No keyword research
- Keyword stuffing in “Keywords” head tag, and body (old practice)
- Over optimize in “unnatural” ways
- Over optimize with too many keywords losing focus
There are many great opportunity to be had on the internet, make sure you know what you’re doing or get someone who does. Because if you do not “do SEO” correctly you will be missing out on this opportunity, or worst still hurting your brand via shady practices.
Final Google Friendly SEO Thoughts
As a final recap of what you need to do in order to get Google and other search engines to take notice:
- Know your business goals
- Develop a keyword plan
- URL Stricture
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Hierarchy Tags
- Alternative Attributes
(If you are on WordPress, I highly recommend Yoast SEO for your SEO plugin)
If you get all these in place you have a great base to work from. Now if you want to really make an impact, you have to build with a steady release of quality content…but more on that with another post.
This article is intended as more of a primer to go off and do research. But with that being said please let me know if you have any questions below, or on one of our social media profiles.