How to write SEO optimized web pages
A web site's content is its most important asset. It will determine your web site's SEO rankings more than anything else. It is also something of which you have complete control. Content is king!!!
Search engines take many things into account when rating a site. The more of these criteria your web site satisfies, the higher the ranking. The higher the ranking, the higher the links to your website appear in the search pages, leading to a higher probability that you will sell more. What search engines deem important may not be what you believe is important. Also, these factors change over time.
The following general rules always apply:
- The content of your web site's pages is the most important factor in determining your site's ranking.
- The content of your web pages must reflect the purpose of your site.
- Your web site's URL should reflect what you do. For example, EntreBahn is about passing on business knowledge.
- Most metadata in a web page header is ignored. For example, most search engines ignore the Keywords meta tag contents because of past abuses.
- If properly titled, graphics and videos are extremely important. For example, the use of the "title" attribute in the image to the left makes the page more accessible for those who are visually impaired.
- Trying to "game" the system can get your site delisted. For example, using "link farms" (sites whose only purpose is to link to other sites) can drop your rating to the bottom of the search results.
Metadata appears in the header of every web page. Some of this data may be accessible to the non-technical user, depending on how the page is created. Metadata is meant to provide search engines with logical groupings to the information on your site. The importance of this information has decreased over the years since it has been greatly abused. That said, it is still a worthwhile exercise to try and categorize the information on your page.
- title - The title should have 70 characters max. If possible, put the domain name as close to the front of the title as is practical.
- description - Use 150 characters max to describe the contents of the page. If possible, put the domain name as close to the front of the description as is practical.
- keywords - these are really key phrases of one or more words. Place 20--30 phrases related to the domain name and what a user would be looking for in this metadata field. Keep in mind that this metadata is usually ignored, but can serve a purpose later in the page.
The content title should contain and relate to the domain name, if possible. Also, use one or more keyword phrases in the title that reflect the web page's purpose. One can think of the content title as a newspaper headline. Make it short and "punchy" or a headline that grabs the reader's interests or needs.
SEO is all about selling. For example, you create your web content so folks will buy into your message, products or services. So, keep the writing simple. The general audience who come to your site will appreciate it and reward you with actually reading your copy and buying from you.
Try to get your message across in 500-550 words. If you use less than 500 words, the search engine may assume there is not much "meat" in the content. More that 550 words make the content less appealing to many readers because of the time it will take to read. Also, a "limitless" length allows the author to drift off topic. The secret is to break the content down into separate pages, each concentrating on a specific aspect of the message you are trying to get across to your target audience.
Your domain name and keywords must appear throughout the text, especially in the first and last paragraph. This is where the exercise of coming up with 20-30 keyword phrases comes in handy.
Try to include videos and graphics in your content because they attract the eye and thus, the person. This improves your SEO ratings. If you do so, ensure that each graphic or video has its alt and title attributes filled in with a meaningful description of what it is supposed to illustrate. Usually, both the contents of the alt and attributes are the same. You should both because some browsers use the alt tag and other use the title attribute for tool tips. Make the title/alt information short — one or two short sentences. Search engines look at these elements as part of your content. Graphics can also set the mood of the page — think of your site's background image(s). They also help break up large chunks of text. The icon on this page is interesting and can serve as an icon for this type of material.
As a piece of sales material, sentences should also be positive. If possible, avoid the words like "not" and "false". For example, "Write short sentences." is better than "Do not write long sentences."; or "Bravery and steadfastness deserve praise." is more positive than "Only the brave deserve praise."
The written content should also be done in the active voice. For example, "She caught three fish." is better than "Her catch was three fish."
Besides content, the other major factor in improving your SEO ratings is the number and quality of the links that point to your site and its content. The quality of a site is its SEO rating. In other words, you want high quality sites linking to your site, thereby reflecting the quality of your site.
To gain in-bound links, your site needs to have interesting and relevant content that others would value. To gain those in-bound links, the first step is to refer to other relevant sites first. You can link to them as examples of what you are talking about, or if they expand on your content. This is also a good excuse to contact these other folks and expand your network.
Links can either point to the other site's homepage or to a page inside the site. This latter practise is known as deep linking and you should be aware that some sites prohibit it.