I’ve attended conventions like the Portland Code Camp at Reed College. One of the classes that I felt most involved with was the Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing lecture. The class was taught by Colleen Wright and assisted by Jennifer Goudey-Forster. Although much of the class covered information I have already written about, I was introduced to additional ideas worth mentioning. I’ve also learned a great deal about Social Networking and SEO from the small business class at Mercy Corps NW. The Foundations Class was taught by Bill Horton and featured a lecture by Benjamin Tomkins. I also follow a number of bloggers on SEO topics, check back as I plan on organizing a nifty “Links Page” soon!
There are two methods of optimizing a web site for search engines: On-Page and Off-Page
Creating HTML documents that are formatted to give important information to search engines is essential to reaching your target market. Some of these factors are:
- Title Tag
- Page Name (H1, H2 and H3 Tags)
- Bolded Text
- Anchor Text (the text that becomes hyperlinked)
- The text displayed at the top of the content
- Image Tag and Name
- Meta Tag (Search engines still use this info. Meta tags give information on what your page is about, but this info does not get displayed unless it appears in some kind of search result.
- URL (although it may not actually be in the HTML document, but the url contains the domain name and the document’s name. Both names will benefit the site if they are part of the site’s keywords.
- 5% to 7% keyword density
A note on density: Although it is important to have your keywords appear on your site often, how those terms are placed is equally important to search engine optimization.
Keyword Strategies other than density
- The relative distance between keywords – Search engines will note when keywords are often used together in a sentence.
- Where the keywords appear on the HTML document – When a web page is built correctly, the most important terms relating to the document should appear near the beginning (the title or heading on top). After the main content is placed after the header, less important terms (links, images, forms) should be arranged in order of their importance. The least pertinent terms should be saved for the bottom of the HTML document. When using columns and tables, it’s important to remember that search engines count the terms in a linear way.
- The frequency of the keywords – Search engines use linguistic formulas to determine if keywords are being used properly. Nouns and verbs are recorded in relation to sentence building, keywords that are used frequently in proper context will receive a higher rank.
- How keywords relate to the main topic (and the sub topics derived from it) – Keywords planted on the page will be meaningless to the search engine if they are unrelated to the document’s content.
It may be common sense, but some SEO services still duplicate keywords into HTML documents without regards to sentence structure. Although I may not always use the best grammar, the fact that my keywords are presented within readable content will give them credibility.
More On-Page Factors that assist in Page Rank
The On-Page methods involve the HTML coding and copy writing processes. I use a number of methods in my coding when optimizing web pages for search engines. Here a are some HTML and CSS tips:
- I use the “display: none;” type style very cautiously. Search engines are sensitive to key word stuffing, so this HTML practice is only used for short headlines, company names or slogans.
- I keep all important information near the top of the HTML document because search engines give higher rank to leading content.
- I use sub navigation lists that repeat key words while allowing users to access parts of the site with fewer clicks.
- A legitimate way to add links to a content management web site is by listing search results within your site. For example, after a search has returned a list of links in your site, a sub navigation can offer suggestions to the current search results. This sub navigation will list a number of similar keywords found on the site. An extra benefit to having search results listed as urls are the extra HTML pages that will be created on the server side. The web crawlers will call up the urls and force content to be pulled from the cms database. These large additional html pages will be created by the cms when normally they are only created by a web browser whose search triggers the cms to que the database.
- I make sure that my code is validated with the Web Consortium. This will assure correct emphasis on HTML tags and page content. Also, since I state W3C validation in my contract, my clients and I have a non-biased service that determines when our project is finished. I usually charge extra for cross browser errors (Internet Explorer consistently breaks web sites when interpreting HTML code and WordPress sometimes places paragraph tags in random places, conflicting with a validation). The W3C service is priceless.
I’ve been writing HTML code by hand since 1996, I’ve learned a great deal in the past 14 years!
(submitting data and links to other sites)
Web sites that connect to your site with hyperlinks are often called backlinks. There are a number of ways to develop free backlinks to your site:
- Internet Press Releases
- Social Networking Sites
Search engines rank backlinks by a number of criteria:
- Authority Sites (major publications, blogs or forums) that have a large following will benefit your page rank by hosting a link to your site
- Sites with a PageRank of 5 or more will increase the value of your site
- .edu and .gov sites are considered excellent references
- The age of your backlinks also plays a factor in adding value to your site
- If the site linking to yours has similar content, search engines will put more emphasis on the backlink
There are a number of ways to find backlinks for your site, one way is by contacting me! I can provide a free estimate on optimizing your site with on-page and off-page methods. Of course, SEO will not guarantee you a great PageRank, but with proper planning and strategically placing your url linked on other sites, your website will be in a better position to grow in popularity.