Edinburgh Web Development

High impact SEO with low effort

by Iain Wilson

4 May 2006

Let me say right up front that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is hard and sometimes complicated work. However, if you are someone with at least some technical web knowledge and a need to improve your site, quite often there are some simple things that can help your site significantly.

1. Key tags correctly ordered Browsers are smart. Even if the HTML tags you use are in error, they will try their best to guess what you were trying to do. Search engines won't give you that luxury. If your HTML is all screwed up, they give up. So make sure you have the basic tags are in the right order:

Doctype declaration 
<html> 
<head> 
<title>...</title> 
<meta tags> 
</head> 
<body> </body> 
</html>

2. Javascript Get the Javascript handling out of your pages and into an external file. Search engines have to plough through all this code to get to the text, and they don't like that. Use a line like this:

<script src="./js/fcheckers.js" language="javascript" type="text/javascript"></script>

3. Stylesheets Same as Javascript - get the main CSS out of your pages and into an external file. Use a line like this (lose the / at the end if you're not using XHTML).

<link rel="stylesheet" href="./styles/innormal.css" type="text/css" media="all" />

4. Titles, meta descriptions and keywords Make sure every single page has a title appropriate to the page. Have the most important words first - NOT the name of your company. Keep the title to less than 11 words, and try to include a geographic location in the title. Try to make sure the phrase(s) from the title are repeated in headings (H1) and content text - putting a single word in a title that is not mentioned elsewhere won't help much at all.

Your meta descriptions should be a more narrative version of your title. Maybe a couple of sentences. Make sure you get what the page is about right up front and include the geographic mention to niche it down.

Meta keywords are probably the most misunderstood aspect of websites. Do NOT think that you can put a bunch of keywords in here and your site will become high on the rankings. Google doesn't even look at them and they are relatively unimportant to the other search engines.

5. Validate your pages Valid HTML makes things easier for everyone including search engines. Accessible HTML, apart from being a legal requirement, is the same. So get your pages standards compliant.

Go to http://validator.w3.org/ and check your html and CSS. Get this to pass and it helps with SEs, browsers, screen readers.

6. Future If you use tables for layout, learn how to code without them. This will make it easier for you to present your text to the search engines quicker and also makes it easier for modification later.

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