SEO Guide Lines - Do's and Don'ts
When you optimise a site for search engines, you are in many ways optimising the site for your users. This is because the clearer your site is laid out and the better your pages are presented the easier it will be for search engines to crawl your site and capture the relevant keywords.
This page sets out to highlight the many areas you should consider when adding content to your site or extending or changing its structure. Many of these topics will seem small and immaterial but added together they can make a big difference.
The following advise is written from the perspective of a CMS but will hold true for any website.
Create unique, descriptive page titles
The page titles are used by Drupal to create title tags, which search engines and browsers pay attention to. The page title should accurately describe the page's content and ideally be unique on your site. However, avoid making the title too long as search engines might truncate it; be brief and concise. Also, don't add words to your page titles in an attempt to repeat a keyword unless it naturally belongs in the title.
Do . . .
- Accurately describe the page's content - Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page's content
- Create unique title tags for each page - Each of your pages should ideally have a unique title tag, which helps search engines to know how the page is distinct from the others on your site
- Use brief, but descriptive titles - Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long, search engines may only show a portion of it in the search result.
Don't . . .
- Choose a title that has no relation to the content on the page
- Use default or vague titles like "Untitled" or "New Page 1"
- Use a single title tag across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages
- Use extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to
- stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags
Use the description meta tag
We always install a feature on our websites to enable you to edit the pages meta tags. These give search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page's title may be a few words or a phrase, a page's description meta tag might be a sentence or two or a short paragraph. Google Webmaster Tools provides a handy content analysis section that will tell you about any description meta tags that are either too short, long, or duplicated too many times (the same information is also shown for title tags).
Do . . .
- Accurately summarise the page's content - Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description meta tag as a snippet in a search result.
- Use unique descriptions for each page
Don't . . .
- Write a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page
- Use generic descriptions like "This is a webpage" or "Page about us"
- Fill the description with only keywords
- Copy and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tag
- Use a single description meta tag across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages
Good practices for URL structure
Drupal provides the ability to give all your website's pages alternative URLs. You should take advantage of this and . . .
Do . . .
- Use plain simple words in URLs - URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them
- Create a simple hierarchical structure - Use a hierarchical structure that organises your content well and is easy for visitors to know where they're at on your site. Use the hierarchical structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL
- Just use lowercase URLs. They are easier to remember.
Don't . . .
- Leave the URL's to default to the Drupal node names
- Create unnecessary long URLs
- Name the pages with generic names like "page1"
- Create too deep a hierarchical structure
- Use directory names that have no relation to the content in them
- Use the websites full name in the internal links i.e. The link should be "seo/guide_lines" not "http://www.web4site.co.uk/seo/guide_lines"
Offer quality content and services
Creating compelling and useful content will influence your website more than any of the other topics discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means. Organic or word-of-mouth advice is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.
Do . . .
- Write easy to read text - Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.
- Break your content up into easy to scan sections - Users tend to scan web pages and don't read them like they do books.
- Use the heading tags to provide structure. These are the h1, h2 through h6 tags provided by HTML. They can be used to create a hierarchical structure for your content and make it easier for users to read and navigate through your pages.
- Create fresh, unique content - New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
- Create content primarily for your users, not search engines
- Keep updating and extending your content so that both your users and search engines will see it's not stale
Don't . . .
- Writing rambling text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes
- Embedding text in images for textual content - users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines can't read it
- Write large amounts of text without using paragraphs and subheading
- Duplicate the content on various pages
- Insert unnecessary keywords aimed solely at search engines
- Try to hide text from users but display it to search engines
Get relevant sites to link to yours
It doesn't really matter how many links you have to your site and what sites link to you. What does matter is the way the sites link to yours and how often new links are added. If overnight an extra one million sites link to your site that would not affect your position much.
Do . . .
- Get relevant sites to link to yours. i.e. If you have a ski chalet site get any site associated with skiing, holidays or accommodation to link to yours.
- Make the anchor text on the links to your site match your targeted search terms. Using the above example again, a good link to your site would have the text "skiing accommodation" or "skiing chalet.
- Try and add new links slowly over time. This will make it look like your site is gaining popularity
- Try and encourage external links to pages other than your home page. Because this will make it look like you have lots of pages of interest