Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Basics

SEO means search engine optimization. It is a technique for increasing the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) – including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. In this article, I will try to explain the basics of SEO and some common mistakes.

Page Title
Nowadays, many of the search engines emphasize on title tag in the page, instead of meta keywords. This is the text between title. Therefore, it is important to write the correct title with few letters. Your title should be around 50 characters and it must describe your content clear.
For example, an article for workouts in the gym will be named “Gym Workouts”, because there are different types of workout. There is no need to add more letters/words because it will make the title confusing. Clear and simple!
Meta Description
The meta description should be no more than 159 characters. It is often shown as the black text under the title in a search result. For this to work it has to contain the keyword that was searched for.
Focus Keywords
It should be only 1 word to perfectly describe your content – the main keyword or key phrase that this article is about.
!DOCTYPE
Use !Doctype tag (Document Type Declaration) in the very beginning of every page to specify which version of HTML/XHTML you use.
For example, !DOCTYPE html is for HTML5. When you declare it, then you can add the html tag.
robots.txt
As you can see, it is text file which contains very important information for the robots to index your site. It must be uploaded in your root folder of your website, as well as .htaccess (e.g. (public_html\robots.txt). You can specify which pages to be indexed and which not.
Firstly, add the name of the robot – User-Agent: Googlebot.
Secondly, add disallow, which forbids the robot to index that location being either directory or file.
Disallow: /admin/ (everything inside admin will not be indexed)
Disallow: /includes/hack.html (only hack.html will not be indexed, other files will)
Disallow: /public_html/*.html (excludes all html files in that location)
If you leave disallow blank, the robots will index the whole website (including some stuff you don’t wish to be there) – Disallow:
Comments are added in robots.txt, with #(hash) before the comment (# Hi, this is a comment.)
If you want to hide very important folders/files, you should know everyone can access your robots.txt and see that you forbid the robot to index (e.g. important-documents.html). They can access it by just adding the url + file (mydomain.com/important-documents.html)
Alt tag in Images
Many developers tend to skip this tag which is very important to index your images correctly. When you search for image, Google will look into the alt tags of a image in the web and will display a result. Moreover, if the image is not loaded the alt tag will be displayed as a text.
For example, (img src="seo-123.jpg" alt="SEO" /), users will still manage to see the text “SEO“.
H1, H2 … tags
One H1 Element per page/post (Google has recommended it)
As many as required H2 elements to denote sections on the page. Consider using H3 Elements for useful link groups (such as showing your services at the front-page (e.g. website creation, logo & brand identity etc). Google Use H1,H2,H3,H4,H5 & H6 as titles for page snippet, whereas meta description is the black text below. H1 like title tag should has around 50 letters to keep it short and simple.
Page Size
The page itself should be less than 100 kb (without images) and less than 100 hyperlinks (which is a lot) and 1000 words (at least 300 word recommended minimum). These statements, were actual few years ago. Nowadays, Google Bot can index pages far larger than 100kb, but let’s face it? Are you going to read a book? If the page gets bigger – split/break it. Use sub-pages. However, I still stick to these ‘old’ rules.
Hyperlinks
Use hyperlinks at least once in a page and from a good source. If your link is from a highly reputable website (e.g. bodybuilding.com) you will rank higher, otherwise you will encounter a term called ‘bad neighborhood’. The search engines will rank your website lower, just because you have hyperlink from a bad website.
Lastly, try to avoid hyperlinks with no meaning to your content (page: gym-workouts -> hyperlink to -> hairdryer in china?)
Example – a href="page.htm">some link /a>
Content size
Search Engines do not like websites with few pages (5 or less). Try to add more information such as portfolio items, blog posts, articles, news and whatever useful you can think of. However, do not overload (spam) your site with useless information.
URL name/sub-domains
Use custom links (rewrite method) for better optimization. If you article is about Gym Workouts then the url should be ageorgiev.com/gym-workouts/ or if you have a blog ageorgiev.com/blog/gym-workouts. Try to avoid links like – pageid=5? They keyword should be in the URL (workouts)!
Navigation Menu
Good navigation with clear links ensures high rank. Use key and short words – better for SEO, better for your users. Within few clicks (3 or less) your users should get to the desired location in your website.
Use nav> /nav> to define navigation menu and ul li for the items. As for CSS, float: left or display: inline-block to make it horizontally and display: none if you want to have drop-down menu.
Sitemap
Sitemap is a page which shows the structure of your website. There are sitemap generators available online. I strongly recommend it, if your website has serious content.
iFrame and Flash
Try to avoid using iframes. Search engines have trouble indexing pages with iframe content. However, don’t ever use FLASH anymore in your website. In the past was very attractive and beautiful. However, your flash content cannot be indexed properly.
Social Media
We cannot live without our lovely Facebook. Therefore, you should link your website to your social media profiles – facebook, google plus, linkedin, twitter, pinterest, instagram and so on. Not only your friends will see that you have posted something, but the search engines will notice that as well.
Tags
I am not talking about the meta tags (keywords, description). I am talking about to add custom simple tags. Thus, users can reach your post easily. It is something like the hashtag in twitter (#seo). Consider adding few tags (5 or less). When your site grows up and you add a tag cloud, search engines will evaluate your website and it will rank higher in certain areas.

2 comments on “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Basics

  • Thank you for this great article, Alex!

    It really is helpful and keep up the good work!

    Cheers!

    Reply

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