By now you’re probably sick to the teeth with background information. You want to “get your hands dirty” and start applying all this search engine optimization theory in your website. Fear not! If it’s dirt you want, it’s dirt you’re gonna get!
Before we can get too nitty-gritty, you should have already done the following:
- Identified your target audience: their interests, education level, web surfing habits, cultural bias, and so on.
- Made a list of the 10-15 most commonly asked questions you get from your customers or clients.
- Distilled your initial list of key words and phrases from your questions. Note: these will be nouns and verbs! Don’t you dare use “the” as a key word!!!
- Expanded your list of key words to include other ideas and concepts related to your business.
- Reviewed your web server logs to find other words and phrases that are actually leading people to your site.
- Taken a second look at your web server logs to find any specific pages that are working especially well or poorly.
- Remember to breathe…!
If you’ve done your homework and covered all the bases above, you are ready to begin optimizing your web pages, making them “tasty” to the search engines. So let’s take a look at where you need to use those key words and phrases.
How is your HTML?
I mean it. Have you got a clue how your web pages are even built?
If you answered, “Yes“, then we can move forward.
If you answered, “No“, or “Um, I guess so…” you need to do more homework before the next phase is going to make much sense to you. I recommend that you go through an HTML tutorial site like the one at Sitepoint or W3Schools. After you’ve got a handle on the basics of how a web page is built, come back and read the rest of this post.
In order to effectively use your key words and phrases, they need to be woven into multiple layers of your web pages and overall site design. Within a single web page you want to be sure that key words are embedded in the following places:
- The TITLE tag.
- The META DESCRIPTION tag.
- The META KEYWORDS tag.
- One or more heading tags: H1, H2, H3, etc.
- One or more paragraphs within the body of the page.
- One or more web links contained within the page.
- The ALT attribute of images contained within the page.
- The actual file name of the page.
Each one of these areas within your web page has its own quirks and best practices, far too much to include in one post! For now, let’s briefly look at some of the main tags you will use. Then we’ll explore them and others in greater detail over the next couple of weeks.
The TITLE tag.
The TITLE tag lives in the HEAD portion of your web page and is the tag that controls the “comment” residing in the title bar of the browser window. For example, if you look at the top of your browser window right now, you will see BrØnw3n’s World » SEO 101… That text comes from the TITLE tag for this web page.
Your TITLE tag is probably the single most important tag in any individual web page. Search engines, and people, pay a LOT of attention to what goes into the TITLE tag, so you want to make sure the information you put there is meaningful and pithy.
The META DESCRIPTION tag.
Like the TITLE tag, your META DESCRIPTION tag lives in the HEAD of your web page, but normal people will never see what it says until they find your page listed in a search engine.
This is another area where brevity is best. Your META DESCRIPTION is the text that is going to appear as the description for the page when it is displayed by a search engine, so you want to give this tag a brief, meaningful summary of what that specific page contains.
The META KEYWORDS tag.
This tag is not used at all by Google, but it is used by other search engines. Place the most important key words that are specific to each individual page within this tag. But don’t go overboard! Try to keep it to ten or fifteen words or phrases, max!
One or more heading tags: H1, H2, H3, etc.
Many “modern” web designers are addicted to SPANs and they forget all about basic text block tags. This is a bad thing because heading tags lend tons of weight to key words and phrases. If you’re not sure how to use headings, pick up a newspaper and follow their example.
One or more paragraphs within the body of the page.
The bulk of your actual content should live within paragraph [P] tags. If you are using paragraph tags they way you should, just make sure you mention the key words and phrases you want to emphasize several times within the content of your article.
Search engine optimization really isn’t rocket science, but it does take some effort and thought on your part.
Next time, more tag use and abuse…