Optimizing our Web sites for search engines means doing some critical thinking and applying some basic rules to every page on our Web site. As you are creating a page, keep these rules in mind. It might even be helpful to print this page and keep it close while you are creating pages or SEOing existing pages.
Follow the directions below in order to keep the Web sites clean, keep search engines happy and provide Lessiter Web sites with high page rankings among the major search engines.
Content is still king. The first and most important thing a search engine looks at to determine the rank of a page is that page's content. That means the headlines, the subheads, the decks, and the body copy.
Bad content results in bad search engine rankings.
Wherever possible, use the keywords that Jean has provided in your copy, because those are the words that people most use to find our Web sites. By including those words, you can reinforce search engine rankings that already exist.
It is also important to use a mix of heading tags in your content. Think of heading tags as a high-school outline:
- Heading 1 tags are for the title of the content and only be used once per page.
- Heading 2 tags are the main bullet points, what we in publishing call subheads.
- Heading 3 tags are the sub-points under the main bullet points.
- Adding bold to copy will emphasize what is most important on the page for search engines.
- Finally, the remainder of the body copy will also be indexed, but it ranks much lower than the emphasized points above. Make sure to use the Paragraph style for body copy.
You can see where to find these tags in the WYSIWYG image below.
Search engines don't see images like people see images. All search engines see when they index a page is the fact that an image exists in a certain spot. That's why it's important to add Image Descriptions and Image Title tags to every image we post to our Web sites.
If we add those as we post images, search engines will understand what the image contains, and the image will be indexed with the page's content. Whenever possible, use a page's main keywords in your Image Descriptions. You will see an example of where to post those tags below.
Though meta tags are not the main factor search engines consider when ranking sites, they should not be left off the page. They were proposed during the development of the Internet in order to make using the Web easier. Unfortunately, webmasters over the years have abused meta tags so much that search engine creators have had to de-emphasize their importance in their algorithms.
That said, the meta tags described below -- the Page Name Attribute, the Page Title Attribute, the Page Description Attribute, and the Page Keyword Attribute -- perform essential and practical functions on the Lessiter Web sites and need to be addressed on every page of our sites.
It is important for you to learn how and why these tags are used in order to improve our search engine rankings and make our sites function as well as possible.
Page Name Attribute
The Page Name Attribute should be an appropriate description of what the page contains. If possible, you can begin the page name with an organizational term, such as "Feature Articles," followed by some more descriptive text about what the article contains. By following this method, similar pages will be grouped together in our page list.
The Page Name Attribute is also used to create the Page URL. Search engines find it easier to index descriptive URLs that use words, rather than a series of random letters and numbers. You can see an example of how the URL is created based on the Page Name Attribute below.
Lastly, try to use your major keyword in your page name. Search engines love URLs with keywords that apply to your content. And stay away from random symbols such as underscores, which are specifically known as "stops" for search engines and make crawlers quit looking at that attribute once they hit it.
Check out the following list of "SEO Stop Words."
Page Title Attribute
Search engines use page titles -- and other page information -- to index the content of your page and assign a ranking to it based on the value of the content according to the search engine's algorithm.
Therefore, it is important that your page title be a succinct, accurate description of what the page contains. It should use words that you believe readers would search for in order to find the page. The Page Title Attribute can be different from the Page Name Attribute. For example, there is no need to use organizational copy such as "Featured Articles" in the Page Title Attribute.
The Page Title Attribute is also used by our CMS for our Related Pages functionality. If a user checks the box for "Display related pages?", then the Page Title Attribute is used as a link to the article under Related Pages.
The bottom line for the Page Title Attribute? Keep it clean, keep it accurate and keep it short.
Page Description Attribute
The Page Description Attribute, shown in the CMS as "Description (for SEO)" should contain a brief description of the page's content. Search engines will index 200-250 characters of the Page Description Attribute, though fewer characters may actually display in the search engine's results page. The Page Description Attribute should contain keywords that reinforce the themes of the content.
Our CMS can display the Page Description Attribute in our site's search results as well as in our RSS Feed. This attribute will also be displayed in the major search engines' results, in many instances.
The bottom line on the Page Description Attribute? Keep it focused on the the major themes of the content.
Page Keywords Attribute
Google Software Engineer Matt Cutts
The Page Keywords Attribute has become less important over the years because of the tendency of many Web administrators to insert huge keyword lists in an effort to attract the attention of search engines.
As a result, Google, Yahoo and MSN have de-emphasized the Page Keywords Attribute to index a page. It is safe to say that keywords have dramatically diminished in importance. Google has gone as far as saying that they do not use the keyword meta tag at all. Check out the short video to understand why.
That said, keywords do play some part in SEO, so they must be addressed. You need to address them in two ways:
1. Using keywords located within your content may reinforce the value of that keyword for a search engine. So, it won't hurt us if we add the main keywords from the content of the page into our Page Keywords Attribute.
2. Use synonyms. For example, if the main theme of a page is Offense, and the word Offense is mentioned in the Page Name Attribute, the Page Title Attribute, the Page Description Attribute and/or the headings within the page's content, we should enter synonyms of Offense in the Page Keywords Attribute. Use words like scoring or offensive attack. It is helpful to have a Thesaurus handy to determine what those synonyms might be.
At the same time, be cautious which synonyms you use. The word assault is a synonym for offense. However, this word will not likely bring the right visitor to our Web site.
As a result of this approach, Web site visitors will be more likely to find the right content, no matter what their vocabulary.
These are the basics of how Search Engine Optimization works on Lessiter Publications Web sites. Envision IT develops all Web-related products in accordance with SEO compliance. It is up to Lessiter employees to create pages with positive SEO attributes within their control.
By following the basic rules above, we can be sure that our pages will climb to the top of search engine rankings.
Paul Markgraff, IT Manager, Lessiter Publications
Beau Smithback, Chief Technology Officer, Envision Information Technologies