10 Basic SEO Tips Every Web Developer Should Follow
Posted by JP on January 26th, 2010 in Blogging | 172 Comments
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important ingredients for getting large amounts of traffic to your website besides high-quality content. Because once your articles are a few weeks old, the majority of the traffic to those articles will come from search engines. That's why it's important to rank high in search engines.
In this article I'm going to show you 10 basic SEO tips that you should keep in mind when writing a new article or developing a new website to make sure your blog ranks high in the search engines.
1. Place Your Keywords In the Title Tag
The title tag is one of the most important things for ranking high for particular keywords. That's why it's very important to think of a title that contains important keywords and grabs the attention of people. Because when people search on search engines like Google, the title of your page will be displayed in the results and people will click on links that are the most attractive to them first. Remember that it's also very important and rewarding to have a unique title, so before you use the title, Google it and see if the title already appears in the top 10 results.
Please keep in mind that Google only displays the first 70 characters(about 8 words) of your page's title. Google does not even index the keywords in your page's title after the 12th or so word. Yahoo and MSN don't even index pages that have a page title that's too long. Source: Google – How Many Words In A Page Title Tag?
Note: WordPress users should use the All in One SEO Pack plugin for WordPress. This plugin gives you the ability to easily place the title of your post in the beginning of your <title> tag.
2. Optimize Your Robots.txt
Having an optimized robots.txt is important because this file can control which pages of your websites get crawled by the search engine spiders. For those of you who use WordPress, I recommend preventing search engine spiders from crawling wp-admin and plugin folders.
Take a look at my my Robots.txt to get an idea of how it works. Its code is pretty much self explanatory but if you want a better understand of it take a look a the links mentioned below.
Here are some more resources about the robots.txt file:
3. Proper Use of the ALT Attribute
The <alt> attribute should be used to describe an image, not to spammed with keywords that have nothing to do with the image.
Why? Because while it's true that search engine spiders cannot read images, they can however read the <alt> attribute, and having it spammed with keywords that are totally irrelevant to the image will make Google aware of what to derank you for.
Here's some more information about the alt attribute:
4. Anchor Text of Links
The anchor text is the text inside your <a> tags that links to other pages. Wether they're incoming or outgoing links, it's important for the anchor text to contain a description of where the link is taking the visitor. This is even more important for search engines because it tells its crawlers where the link is going.
So avoid using words like "Click Here" as an anchor text as it can hurt both your website and the website you're linking to. One more thing to keep in mind is to keep the characters in your anchor text under 55.
5. Quality of Inbound and Outbound Links
While most web developers know that having many web sites link to your can boost your rankings, a lot of them don't know that the quality of the websites linking to your websites plays a vital role in your website's page rank. Getting links for random dofollow blogs has a way smaller impact than if a website with a high pagerank links to your website in an article.
Who you link to matters, as Google warned webmasters that they can be penalized if they link to spam websites. Linking to really bad websites (malware injecting websites etc.) can easily get your site removed from Google's search engine results pages(SERPs). One thing to keep in mind is that Google's spiders might not follow all of your links if you have over 100 unique outbound links on a single page.
More articles about linking:
6. Proper Use of Header Tags
<h1>, <h2> tags etc. should be used when appropriate. Don't be using <h2> tags as a paragraph or using <div> class="title"</div> to display the title of your page or something.
Here's a few things to keep in mind when using header tags:
- only use one <h1> tag per page
- you can use as many <h2> - <h6> tags as you like in your pages
- search engine crawlers only read basic html
More articles about header tags:
- How To Use Tags – Proper Use Of H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 Elements
- How to optimize keywords in header tags.
7. Importance of the First Paragraph
Your first paragraph is the most important paragraph in your page. This is because it's the first paragraph search engines scan and they assume that it's somewhat of a summary of the page/article. That's why it's essential to have the most important keywords of your page in the first sentence or two.
If you're using the All in One SEO Pack plugin for WordPress, the plugin will automatically take the content from your first paragraph and place it in the meta description, which is the text that search engines display under the title of your page.
8. Ensure Your Site is Accessible
An accessible website should ensure that its content can be successfully delivered as often as possible. The functionality of pages, the uptime of the server, validity of HTML elements are all parts of site accessibility. If these points are either ignored or faulty, both your visitors and search engines will select other websites to visit.
Use tools like:
To know if your site contains broken links or when your site is down.
9. Use SEO Friendly URLs
The URL of a page should be descriptive so both the users and search engines have an idea what the page they're being linked to consists of. SEO Friendly URLs also have the benefit of serving as their own anchor text when copy pasted to forums etc. due to URL having the keywords of the page in its URL. These type of URLs usually rank higher in search engines than pages with a URL like example.com/p=981489894.
Furthermore, when using Dynamic URLs try to keep your dynamic parameters under 2 or else the chance is high than it might not get crawled by search engine spiders unless they're perceived as very important(ie. have a large amount of inbound links).
More articles about SEO Friendly URLs:
10. Site Usability
If your website is cluttered with ads and has a terrible layout, accessibility, navigation and low quality of content, chances are that you'll get less people linking back to your site than one that has better usability than yours, thus resulting in lower page ranking.
If your website was designed in the 90s you seriously need consider hiring a web designer to redesign your website.
Take a look at the following example which I took from SeoMOZ.org.
These examples clearly show the impact a decent design has on the way users perceive the website. Users are more likely to buy from Haworth's Furniture because the site just gives a more trustworthy vibe than Workplace Office's website. Furthermore, people are more likely to tell a friend about Haworth's website because it just has better usability and seems more trustworthy than Workplace Office's website.
While a nice design doesn't have a direct impact on the rankings of a page, it will indirectly influence it due to users linking back to the site, trusting it etc.
The Art of SEO
I highly suggest reading the Art of SEO if you're interested in getting a crash course in Search Engine Optimization. If you just want to read one book to get to know all about SEO, this one is it.
More SEO Resources:
- SEOmoz's Beginner's Guide for SEO
- Google SEO - Search Engine Optimisation Basics
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by Google