Consider Points for SEO
Other points to consider in SEO for content
We talked about the Title tag in the earlier chapter. The title is the most important part of the entire page because that is what tells users using the search what the page is about. One cannot afford to go wrong with this. Preferably, a title should be unique across the web, but if you can't, then at least, make it unique on your website. Some blog platforms and social/book marking websites enforce this rule and will not let you submit the content with a title which already exists. Your title must contain your primary keyword and it should be indicative of the content of the article. Moreover, make sure that the title can stand alone by itself. It is not wise to presume that the website is about a particular issue and hence users should automatically understand the main theme. This is so because the users see the title in the search engine result pages and have no clue what your site is about. The last thing to keep in mind is not to make your title too long. Ideally, it should be between 40-60 characters and the words describing the content of the page should appear as early as possible. Shed your ego and vanity and try not to 'brand' your page title.
In contrast with the title which is shown on the search results, the heading of the page is actually visible to the visitors to your website. At times, you may want the heading to be the same as title, which is perfectly okay. However, if you are making it different be sure that they are not very different from each other. Essentially, do not mislead people and make the heading interesting and catchy enough to make people want to read further. This is the h l tag we talked about earlier.
The amount of text on a page has an affect on how long the page is and also how rationally you can insert keywords in the text. Search engines do like long pages with lots of relevant content. If you try to insert five keywords in a fifty-word paragraph, chances are that the paragraph will lose its flow and grammar. Ideally, your text on page should be at least 300- 400 words for maximum effectiveness. It does not mean that you should artificially inflate the text, but that you should provide information to the visitor about your website, Blog, article or issue. If you make your page too long the visiting spiders may time out and not index your page. Similarly, the visiting human being may get bored and get out of your website. Make your content as compelling as possible, do not hold your knowledge or expertise back. The more the reader is impressed with your content, the more are the chances that he will return, subscribe or may be even buy your product.
The use of images on the page, especially when it complements the text, makes the page look attractive and more informative. However, it comes with a drawback of making the pages heavier, which increases the loading time of the page. Sometimes it results in the text being loaded earlier with a blank space in between that stays blank till the time the image is loaded. Therefore, it is imperative that you use images that are not very large. Also, do not put the image right at the top since it will result in a page that will look blank initially, even though there is text lower down on the page .. Search engines cannot read images, at least not yet, and neither can they read text presented in an image. Therefore it is important to use the AL T tag for images. The AL T tag describes the alternate text, which explains what the image is about. The Alt tag is another place to use your keywords in, this tells the search engine that your image is relevant to the rest of the content of the website. As explained earlier, the Alt tag also helps visitors who are using screen readers (text to speech software), thereby not only making their experience better but also getting you brownie points for good accessibility options.
The importance of having a well structured design where each page within a website is linked to the other has been explained earlier. But the reason then was to make navigation for users easier as also to make the search engines find all your pages. Here we are talking about interlinking pages with respect to content. Consider a visitor to your site reading contents of a particular page. When you feel that another page on your website can provide value addition to the current page by way of pointing the reader to another page, you should use a hyperlink to that page within the content. This will also allow you to keep focussed on the current page theme rather than diverting away from it to explain a point. For example, if you are writing about "Comparison of various LCD TVs" and have earlier written content about "How LCD TV Works" and "How to Choose an LCD TV", you can link the latter two pages on the current page. This way you are providing value addition to the page by offering more to the readers. Search engines take note of such interlinking. In addition, you are engaging your customer to stay and read more on your website, not to mention the fact that you are promoting your pages within your website or Blog. Here, it is better to use relevant keyword rich text in the anchor text rather than simply putting the actual URL of the page or using words like "Read more" or "Click Here".
In the above example you can have a sentence like, "Before you set out to buy an LCD TV, it is important to know how to choose an LCD TV". The bold text in the sentence is your anchor text and can be converted into a hyperlink directing the user to the other page. If you interlink enough number of pages with content related to the page that the visitor landed on, you could get five reads instead of one. This way, one page of yours that reached somewhere near the top of search engine results will pull the other pages up. You should also make sure that all your internal links are valid, i.e. they actually do lead where you say they are leading and the link works.
You can do this by using a link checker tool discussed in the Tools chapter.
We have already covered how forward links and back links help the search engine in ranking your page higher. So how do you get people to link to your pages? However, before we discuss how, let us discuss what not to do? Do not go in for buying links (paying money to another website to link to you), avoid reciprocal linking (you scratch my back, I will scratch yours) and do not link unnecessarily to websites or Blogs just to make your page interesting.
For forward links, insertion of which is in your hands, link to websites which deal with topics similar to yours and are preferably ranking higher than your website. The more reputed the other website, the better. Feel free to link with sites like Wikipedia, news websites, etc., to substantiate your content. However, while doing this just make sure that you are not plagiarising their content, which you might be tempted to do. The links can be made available in a stand-alone manner for further reading or inserted in your text. In both the cases make sure that the hyperlink opens the external page in a new window, otherwise you will end up driving your visitor away from your website.
A word needs to be mentioned here about the quality of outgoing links- unfortunately it is your responsibility to check the website for its content. So do not get over greedy about just linking to a website by its name. Check the content and make sure the website is what it says it is. Do not link to a website which may be what constitutes a bad neighbourhood. For example, if you are writing about real estate, do not blindly link to a website called Best Home Deals, for all you know the website may be directing the user to a massage service at home. The search engines would have in all probability already penalised that website and will do the same to yours.
Back links are something which happen to you and the only sure fire way to achieve that is to write authoritative and informative content. No one wants to link to your website if it is not offering anything unique, or if it is not adding value to the other website. With the advent of advanced technology and new algorithms the stress is upon relevancy and authority/reputation. Think about the back links as votes to your website, votes in terms of endorsement of content and hence the relevancy as well as the authority on the subject. But just remember that unlike a normal voting process the votes here mayor may not be filtered depending on where the vote is coming from. A vote (back link) from a reputable site counts much more than number of votes from unrelated and unknown websites. Therefore, it is imperative that you make an impact on others with your website or Blog.
But, all is not lost. If you are wondering how people will even come to your website if it is not ranked high enough to start with, there is help at hand and it is called promotion which is covered in a later chapter. By promoting your website or Blog on the web by way of site submission, feeds, forums, groups including the social networking websites you can spread the word and it is really amazing how news and content spreads on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. The good news is that Google Caffeine, the latest Google introduction in the search market is taking the social realm heavily into account for the ranking purpose.
The age of the links and the pattern of links made by your website to others and vice versa also makes an impact and the search engines usually install filtering techniques to value these links accordingly. If you make/get too many links in a single day or within a short period of time, a flag is raised, if there is a word like sponsor/advertise or any of their variations next to the link, a flag is raised, if a link is from a known paid site, it is ignored altogether. Similarly, a link, which is very old, gets lesser importance than a recent link. However, these filters are ignored for reputable websites. In case you have daily incoming links from a website like CNN or Huffington post, they do get their weightage.
The link stability is also considered to be a factor as to the value of the link. You cannot change the target page on the hyperlink often. If you are linking a particular text to site xyz, you cannot change it to website abc one day and then to de/the next day.
For website owners whose content is not going to be updated very regularly because of the nature of business, it is highly recommended to integrate a Blog into the website. This way the site content gets updated regularly and a Blog can be a good medium to educate people as well as get back links to the website.
Freshness of Pages
It is important for search engines to deliver fresh content to the users, so the freshness of a page assumes great significance towards the ranking of your website. Needless to say that your content has to be constantly edited or updated to ensure that the search engines do not presume that the website owner has run away. Again Google Caffeine is indexing pages much faster than Google search did earlier, so while it took a couple of days earlier for a Blogger to see his page in the results, now it is happening at a much faster rate.
Copyright is a messy topic, and no on wants to get involved in it, least of all the web search companies and there is a heavy penalty imposed by search engine on copyright violation. You cannot copy images and word-by-word text from some other website or for that matter any other source: Every information, image, or text has a copyright attached to it. Some people do offer use of material as long as you credit the said material to the original author. There are some websites that offer use of material under the Creative Commons License. If you have to plagiarise for reasons beyond your control, do go through the copyright terms that are usually included with material.
Duplicate content on the same website gets penalised for obvious reasons. However, duplicate content appearing on different websites also gets penalised by the way of only one page of the same content being indexed by the search engines. So if you have written an article on your Blog and then one of your friends, family members or even a complete stranger copies the exact content to his own Blog, only one of these pages may get indexed and it may not be yours, the original copyright holder. Besides creating duplicate pages deliberately, there are many other ways duplicate pages may get created. You need to be aware of this and make sure that it does not happen. Your web developer should ensure that a page does not have multiple paths leading to it. Your rendering code also should be developed in a manner that pages are served only with the exact URL, arbitrary parameters in the URL should not deliver the page. Another issue is that your domain http://mydomain.com is the same as http://www.mydomain. com. The search engines will take this as a sign of duplicate pages existing on the web. Again, you can not control other websites linking to your website as to whether they include the www or not. In this case the earlier, non-www URL should be redirected to the URL with www.This is easily done by 301 redirect (moved permanently) and your website developer should be able to handle it. Do not use the 302 redirect and the Meta refresh technique as both these are considered to be temporary moves and the search engines will continue to associate the content with the original page.
Before we end this chapter it is important to know that search engines keep changing the ranking strategy at a frequency that can only be guessed. That means the search engines are either using a different algorithm or tweaking the factors used ever so slightly so that it is difficult for algorithm crackers to get a peep into their methodology. Therefore, what works today may not work the day after. That's another reason for you to avoid using illegal or banned practices to rank higher on the search engines. Just write good content, follow the guidelines and you should get your due.