I’ve written before about what search engine optimization (SEO) is in a nutshell. That was just the 10,000 foot view – in this post we’ll get a little more specific.
There are lots of elements of SEO and even this post is really only scratching the surface. But we’ll break things down a little into major parts. This is the 1st post in a 3-part series. Here are all the posts:
Site Structure And On-Page Elements
The first section we’ll talk about is your site structure. A web site should be built in a search engine-friendly manner. After all, Google and other search engines have web spiders that crawl your site and “digest” the information. An SEOs job is to make it as easy as possible for the crawlers to figure out what your site is about, it’s architecture, how everything links together, etc.
There are technical elements like having valid, semantically correct XHTML code. Don’t worry if you don’t know what this means – odds are that if your site was built in the last couple of years it’s constructed well. If your site is all old-school HTML and built with nested tables, well then… any good SEO is going to tell you that a site update will be required to improve your SEO. (Of course if it’s an older site you may be able to get by with some tweaks rather than a wholesale update.)
You’ll also want to have other on-page elements like a Google sitemap. This is just an XML file that lists all of your sites’ content. Search engines LOVE this because typically when there’s an update to your site, the sitemap file will be automatically updated and the crawler can just check that rather than re-index your entire site. This allows for a new post to be added to Google within hours…even minutes.
There are a TON of other factors that we could spend several posts writing about. But we’ll just highlight a few here and then move on.
Other on-page SEO factors include:
- Search engine friendly URLs (i.e. www.mysite.com/blackcoffeemugs rather than www.mysite.com/mugs123.html)
- Keywords in title tags
- Keywords in headers (H1, H2, H3 even H4 tags)
- Keywords in content throughout site
- Keywords EVERYWHERE! (Are you getting it? :-p )
- Good internal linking of your site’s pages (also known as good site architecture)
- A great META description tag – META keywords are no longer used by Google, but a well-written META description can pull people into your site. Not really a pure SEO tactic, more of a marketing thing.
There are also a ton of little tricks like bolding or italicizing keywords strategically in your site, a robots.txt file and much, much more.
Again, we’re just scratching the surface here, but hopefully it was a useful look at the on-page elements of SEO! Stay tuned for more parts to the SEO strategy guide.