SEO: Optimizing Pages For Keywords

This is what most people think of when they think of search engine optimization. How do I modify the actual HTML of a web page so that it ranks higher in search engine?

The key is to go back to the concept of relevancy. We talked about relevancy in the context of creating content, but in a web page there are other ways to measure relevancy. We’ll go through some of the basics here.

Think of each of these tips as a little boost to your page’s relevancy for your chosen keyword.

Put Your Main Keyword In Your Domain Name

If you’re lucky enough to be starting a site from scratch, and don’t have a domain name yet, you have the additional choice of a domain name that can affect search rankings.

Having your main keyword for your site in your domain name does help with search engine rankings.

This means that you have do to keyword research even before buying a domain name. If you already have a domain name, don’t panic! Having a keyword in the domain name helps, but your rankings can still be good without it.

Name The HTML Files Appropriately

It hasn’t been that long since you’d find web pages with files names like “links.html” or “money.html”. The name of the file isn’t limited, so it’s best to put the main keyword for the web page in the name of the file itself.

If the main keyword for the page was “make money using ebay”, then instead of a file name like “money.html”, use a file name like “how to make money using ebay.html”.

Use An Appropriate Title

Every web page has a title, and not surprisingly search engines expect the title of a web page to be a good indicator of its subject. Make sure your main keyword for the page appears in the title of the page. If you’re writing the HTML yourself, this means that the keyword must be between the title tags.

Please also put enough other words in the title to make it make sense, but try to have your keyword be toward the front of the title. Let’s say your keyword is “cheap web hosting”. Don’t just use that as the title of your page. Instead, use something like “Cheap Web Hosting Reviews: Get More For Your Money”.

The advantage of a longer title is that you’ll maximize your keyword exposure (in this case, adding in a keyword like “web hosting reviews”). Anytime you have keywords that overlap slightly, you can usually get two of them into your title.

Use An Appropriate Header

Every web page should have a single header. The header is what goes between the h1 tags in the HTML for the page. That header shows up in larger font and bold when people look at the page. So search engines see it also as an indicator of the web page’s topic.

Put your main keywords into the page’s header. Use the same rules as for the title, but do not use the same text as the title.

Do not put more than one h1 header into your web page! Some search engines will then discount the content of all the headers.

You can use h2 tags to break up subtopics, and use appropriate keywords for the subtopics in the h2 tag.

Provide An Image

Graphics are good for web pages, making them look nicer for visitor. Keep your use of graphics low, so you don’t affect the load times of your pages.

When you have a graphic, you can specify what’s known as an alt tag for the graphic. This is the text that displays when the mouse pointer hovers over the graphic.

Put your main keywords into the alt tag of one picture on your page.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are invisible pieces of HTML that suggest relevant keywords to search engines. These days, most search engines will not use meta tags to establish relevancy. Instead they’ll read the text of the page itself to determine relevancy.

The description meta tag is used to display a summary of your page on search engine results. So it’s worth putting a few minutes of effort into creating a decent description, rather than allowing the search engines to just use the first few lines of the page.

Make sure your main keywords appear in your description. Even if the search engines ignore them, humans will see them.

If you do all this, you’re ahead of most other websites out there in establishing the relevancy of your site to search engines. Blogging software such as Blogger and WordPress make all of this easier, but it’s still up to people to do the keyword research and create appropriate titles, headings, and descriptions.

Other factors that play into search engine ranking include:

  • The age of the site (older sites are considered more reputable)
  • The page rank of the site (higher is better)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug the SEO Book again. This ebook has all of the above in it, plus loads more. It’s targeted toward SEO professionals, but the techniques in it can be used by any webmaster or blogger.

Next post I’ll talk more about getting back links, both to increase your page rank and to get more traffic to your site. Until then, enjoy!

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