It is easy for those new to search engine optimization to lose themselves in percentages, keywords and crafting perfect content. Although the words on a page are a major aspect of SEO, its layout also plays an important part in rankings. On-page SEO 101 is to put keywords in the title tags, meta descriptions, URL’s, image tags, header tags and of course within the content itself!
These are five of the top design strategies that make a website appear more professional while improving indexing rates, accuracy and keyword rankings.
The addresses pointing to a website and its individual pages can either harm or help SEO. For example, a link that includes “www.” when the actual page does not may be considered duplicate content if proper redirects aren’t in place. Dynamic links, which change based on a variety of factors, present similar problems. Settle on a single version of a URL for each page and redirect any incoming variants. Including relevant keywords in the URL also gives both readers and search engines an important insight into what the page is about.
Organized Navigation Menus
Navigation menus help readers find the information they need, but they also act like ladders for indexing bots, guiding them through different layers of the site to new pages. A tangled and broken system, however, will lead those bots nowhere. Keep page hierarchies structured and simple, and do not use a non-indexing platform such as Flash. Not every blog post or article needs to be included in a navigation menu, but it should be accessible from a page that is.
Content is still king! Always make sure the targeted keywords are placed within the in a natural way. Try to include as many different keyword combinations as possible to attract long tail search. When evaluating the keyword density of your targeted keywords on the page, don’t worry too much about percentages.
Think like a web crawler and press CTRL + F (search function), enter your main keyword(s). If it isn’t mentioned once on the page, you’ve done a bad job! If it’s mentioned once or twice – pretty good. If it’s mentioned a few times in different combinations in a user friendly manner then give yourself a pat on the back!
Search engines like Google and Bing are smart and getting smarter by the month, but they still cannot index images. A crawler may pull phrases from surrounding paragraphs to determine a picture’s context, but this strategy lacks the precision most SEO experts aim for. Image tags are small “alt” phrases attached to files that speak directly to bots. Because search engines prefer illustrated pages, employing a keyword string within an image is a powerful SEO tool.
A header is a concise summary of a section’s content, made more visible through larger, heavier fonts. They are set apart with HTML elements, beginning with “h1″ and growing smaller with each increasing number. From a design perspective, headings provide contrast and make the page easier to scan. Search engines value content in a header more than identical fonts manipulated through size tags. They can’t be overused. In most cases, there should only be one “h1″ element per page, but leaving it out and you’ve missed a nice opportunity for additional on page value.
Be sure to keep these important on page design tips whenever thinking about ways to improve your website. If you are moving to a new website, don’t forget about the importance of 301 redirections if you are changing the URL structure!