Wednesday, February 4

Top ten Checklist SEO

In SEO terms, the basics of optimisation come down to sound (X)HTML coding practice and good use of language; when followed, they go a long way. There are a number of boxes to tick when it comes to considering how best to go about designing web content and website, predominantly focused around metadata elements, content quality assurance, natural language, and semantic coding.

These tips will improve the likelihood of your pages being picked up by search engines.

1. URL
Very often, the web address you use is actually your primary keyword, or at least a variation on it. So for example, the URL incorporates 3 keywords that are essential to what ESRC is trying to do, in promoting social science in today’s society.

Also, try to make your URL/domain name memorable if possible.

2. Title tag
Similarly, every page of content should have a title, which is between 10 and 50 characters in length. This title should also include one or more keywords. At the same time, it ought to be descriptive of the page contents. The title content will appear in the title-bar of your web browser. Again, using ESRC Society Today as an example, each page contains a title that reflects its position within the site, and what it’s about, eg, “ESRC Society Today – News Articles 2006”

3. Description meta tag
The description meta tag should effectively present an abstract of the material in the body content, providing a quick summary of the rest of the page. Again, the emphasis should be on including one or two of the more important keywords – for the content in that page.

It’s important to note that, if you use the same tag contents across multiple pages, search engines can pick up on this and potentially ignore the contents either of that tag, or even possibly of the entire page.

4. Keyword meta tag
Keywords are those are words deemed to be descriptively important in the page. Some schools of thought would teach that the keyword meta tag is a thing of the past. However, at the time of writing, it is still included in the W3C – World Wide Web consortium - metadata specifications, and so its inclusion would indicate best practice.

When using the keyword meta tag, it makes sense to include all keywords that appear in the remainder of the document. However, words that are not included in the body text should not be included within the meta tag.

5. Keyword density
The body content itself should consist of all of the keywords pulled out into the meta tags above, as well as the supporting text that puts them into context. SEO gurus are at odds about precisely
what proportion of keywords should be present in relation to the rest of the content, but a generally touted target range of 15-20 per cent of total page content is the optimal.

Anything under five per cent density is likely to make little, if any, difference. However, the density for individual keywords varies, dependant on their individual importance; a general rule of thumb, wherever possible, is to aim for a density of five per cent on the primary keyword and three per cent with subsequent keywords, cumulatively reaching the overall 15-20 per cent target.

6. Header tags (eg H1 and H2 tags)
Semantic use of heading tags is good practice, and search engines love sites that follow good practice. There should only be one <h1></h1> tag, for the primary ontent title, under which can appear any number of <h2></h2> or <h3></h3> tags.

Style and format of these can be further defined through use of CSS, but it is important to maintain a top-down hierarchy of H1, H2, H3 etc. Also note that heading tags should be used to denote headings – simply putting the text in bold does not make it a heading, certainly not as far
as a search engine is concerned.

7. Text formatting fonts (eg strong, bold and underline):
Use made of these is unlikely to make any difference when it comes to crunching by algorithms, but it has been suggested that bolding the first instance of keywords and the last instance of the primary keyword, may result in increased ranking.

8. Beginning and end of text
The closer keywords are to the beginning and end of the page content the better. Including theprimary keyword within the first and last paragraphs can contribute to hitcount.

9. Key phrases as whole phrases
If your keywords appears as multiple words in a specific phrase, say for example “Economic and
Social Research” as a key phrase, then wherever possible, try to ensure these words do not appear separately or in a different order 10. Alt text Include keywords within the Alt tag of images on your pages, and ensure that the descriptive text is both relevant to the image and to the overall context of the page

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