code_snipWhen it comes to designing SEO-friendly web pages, it’s all about creating a powerful SEO head section. The HTML head is what will make you or break you in the search engines, especially if you don’t follow SEO guidelines.
The Basics of HTML Head
Document type definition (DTD statement)
This is the first tag on your web page, and helps load and index pages faster. It helps spiders efficiently “deep crawl” your pages. Make sure you use the correct tag.
Software such as Dreamweaver automatically inserts the proper tags. If you are editing older pages, you will need to manually insert the correct tag. Consult with the HTML validator at W3C, or consult with a web designer for more information.
Character Set Tag
SEO gurus recommend listing the character set tag before the title tag. The character set tag displays text character in browsers.
Title Tag
titletags1The title tag is very important – you need to grab visitors’ attention IMMEDIATELY. The Title tag is displayed at the top of the browser’s window and displays text in search results. You want to stir their emotions with titles and create curiosity so your site will get those CLICKS!
The SEO standard for title tags is 65 characters or less. Remember to be succinct when writing title tags – do not stuff with too many keywords (looks unnatural and will get you booted out of search engines).
Meta Description Tag
metadescriptionMeta description tags work with the title to attract visitors to your pages. The standard SEO rule is to keep your meta descriptions to 150 characters or less.
You should spend the same amount of time and effort creating powerful meta descriptions just like you would with creating your ads (and titles tags!)
Remember your call to action and work in that “offer” to boost click rates.
Don’t be lazy – if you don’t include meta description tags, search engines automatically use snippets of your copy text as your description tag. This isn’t good SEO practice!
Meta Keywords Tag
It’s still recommended by SEO experts to utilize meta keywords tags. Keep keywords to a minimum (6-8 keyword phrases). Leave out your money phrases. Keep keywords general.
If you are too specific, your competitors will scrape your content. A powerful keyword list can be built VERY quickly that way! Don’t spend all that time researching keywords just to give them away.
Keyword phrase you use in your meta keywords tag need to be used in your body content.
Meta Robots Tag
Meta Robots Tags allows content to be kept out of search engines in the following ways:
Pages aren’t indexed but still followed.
Pages are indexed but not followed.
Pages are not indexed or followed.
Meta Author Tag and Image Toolbar Tag (Optional)
The Meta author tag isn’t a SEO requirement. It places your name on your home page (make sure to follow WAI validation).
The Meta image toolbar tag isn’t always used, but is extremely useful if you have large images on page. It also makes your site look cleaner. The meta image toolbar tag is recommended for images with a height/width greater than 100 pixels.
XML Mapsite Verification Tag (Google)
xmlGoogle’s Sitemap is the best way to get crawled by spiders. It allows your pages to be easily found and indexed.
Tips and Tricks – How to Create Dynamic Meta Tags
• If you use more than 65 characters in your titles, Google automatically displays ellipses which drops click-through rates to 9% fewer compared to titles WITHOUT ellipses.
• Ask questions, use active verbs and list exactly what visitors will receive (body content follows up by answering questions and providing further information)
• Utilize unconventional techniques– make meta tags LOOK different so will people are curious to click on it (use a quote, etc).
• Don’t keyword stuff. Do NOT use keywords of competitors’ products or brands (you could risk a lawsuit!) Keep keywords to 6-8 phrases minimum.
• Avoid hype in meta-descriptions – limit characters to 150 and use 2-3 sentences for your hook.