Easy Ways to Incorporate On Page SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
If you’re new to writing web copy or creating web campaigns, you may have heard of the mysterious term SEO. You may have wondered what it is and how to use it. Here's an overview and a few easy ways to use SEO on your web pages.
What Is SEO?
SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, covers a number of techniques used to improve a website’s or a web page’s search engine ranking.
This article will discuss organic, white hat techniques. Organic search results are those that you do not pay for; the search engine crawls your site, and based on what it finds, gives your site its rank in the unpaid listings. White hat techniques are those that are considered ethical. You are representing your site accurately, and not attempting to trick people into visiting it.
Though each search engine reviews and ranks sites differently, there are some common things each looks at. You can easily modify the pages on your site to improve your rankings by ensuring you’ve covered these areas.
Meta Tags reside within the HTML code of the page. These are not visible on the actual page, but the search engines may look at this information to help categorize your site.
To see a page’s source code, simply right click and select to view page source. Here’s an example for CNN.com
The tags that you’ll want to look at for SEO are:
Title: The text in this tag will be displayed in the user’s browser. In the source code, it looks like this:
<title>CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News</title>
The graphic below shows the title as it is displayed in the browser:
Two other tags, called Meta tags, are also shown in the source code.
Description: this meta tag should be used to describe the page content. Note that the information within the tag shown below is displayed on Google’s search engine results page.
<meta name="Description" content="CNN.com delivers the latest breaking news and information on the latest top stories, weather, business, entertainment, politics, and more. For in-depth coverage, CNN.com provides special reports, video, audio, photo galleries, and interactive guides.">
Keywords: The keywords meta tag may be used by search engines to help in categorizing your site. In this tag, you’ll want to use terms that you think people might use when searching. See the example below.
<meta name="Keywords" content="CNN, CNN news, CNN.com, CNN TV, news, news online, breaking news, U.S. news, world news, weather, business, CNN Money, sports, politics, law, technology, entertainment, education, travel, health, special reports, autos, developing story, news video, CNN Intl">
Image Alt Text
Another technique involves labeling all your images with what’s known as “alt” tags. These are tags that describe the image and also help search engines in ranking your site. Not only are the image alt tags important for SEO, but they are also useful to visually impaired users, who may use a special browser that reads the alt tag text. Here’s an example of the alt text for an image of planes in an article about suspicious packages.
<img src="http://por-img.cimcontent.net/api/assets/bin-201010/4d54463ab8b34c242da94c536905d74e.jpg" alt="Suspicious Items on Planes Probed" /></a>
Now that we’ve covered the “behind the scenes” page elements, let’s move to the page elements. Your on page headings are important; use headings — “h” tags — that includes words a user is likely to use when searching. This is not the time to be vague or cute. Search engines tend to assume the text within heading tags is more important, and will give it more weight in calculating page rankings.
On Page Keywords and Keyword Phrases
As mentioned earlier, keywords are words users are likely to enter into search engines; keyword phrases are two or more search words. Without sacrificing good writing, use keywords and keyword phrases within the page’s content. You do not want to “stuff” or use an excessive number of keywords though, or search engines may penalize you. Write with the needs of the reader in mind, and your keyword density should be fine.
Using these simple and free on page SEO techniques may give your site an opportunity to improve its organic search engine results page rankings.
Photo by mconnors at morguefile.com