Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Search Engine Optimization



This post dictates the basic steps involved in SEO which will make easier for the search engines to crawl, index and understand your content. Some small modifications on the parts of your website will rank your pages better in the search engines. The steps are given below:

Step 1:
Give unique and accurate titles for your pages. Page titles are an important aspect of SEO. Title of a page is usally given in the title tag as shown below

<html>
<head>
<title> Flipkart</title>
</head>
..
..

Title tag not only tells the user about the topic of the page. It also tells search engines what the topic of a particular page is. Ideally you are required to create unique title for each pages on your site.

Page titke contents are displayed in the search results, which will help the users to recognize if the page is relevant to their search.

Note:

  • Avoid choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page.
  • Avoid using default titles like "Untitled Page" or "New Page 1" etc..
  • Avoid using using a single title for all pages of your website.
  • Avoid using lengthy titles



Step 2:
Use description meta tag as shown below.

<html>
<head>
<title>Flipkart</title>
<meta name="description" content="Place your description of the site here">
</head>
..
..

Description mata tags will provide both search engines and users with a summary of what your page is about.

Note:

  • Avoid writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page.
  • Avoid using general descriptions and single desription to all pages.
  • Do copy-paste the entire contents of your page in the description.
  • Write description in full sentence. Avoid descriptions with only keywords.



Step 3: 
Use simple URLs which will convey the content information easily. Visitors may feel uncomfortable with extremely long and cryptic URLs. 

Avoid using the URLs below
http://www.domainname.com/folder/filename.html
Give proper name to your file and folder which reveals the content of your page. Remember that the URL of a deocument is displayed as part of a search result in Google and other other search engines.

Note:

  • Use words in the URLs rather than ID numbers etc..
  • Avoid using lengthy URLs
  • Avoid using the filenames like "page1.html", "newpage.html", "file1.html" etc
  • Use directory name that have relation to the content of the page
  • Avoid using odd capitalization of URLs
  • Provide only one version of a URL to reach a page. That is avoid using multiple URLs which points to the same page.


Step 4:
Headlines, emphasized words, and lists. Both people and search engines know that anything called out in headlines or subheadings, in boldface or italics, or in bulleted lists is likely to be important. Make sure headings, links, and lists in your Web copy are called out with HTML tags.


Step 5:
Use text links for the navigation. It makes easier for the search engines to crawl and understant your site. Using navigations based on drop-down menus, images or animations will not help seach engines to discover links on your site. Normal Text links will improve the accessibility of your site.

For the above purpose the best practice is to put a HTML site-map page on your site. But when you use such page always check if there is any presence of broken links. 

Step 6:
Make use of 404 page. The 404 or Not Found error message is a HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find what was requested. Users will come to a page that doesn't exist in your site. Having a custom 404 page will guide the users back to the working page of your site.

Note:

  • Avoid allowing your 404 pages to be indexed in the search engines. 
  • Design your 404 page that is consistent with the rest of your site.


Step 7:

  • Improve the content and services on your site. 
  • Interesting sites will increase the recognition on their own. 
  • Users enjoy the content that is simple and easy to follow.
  • Stay organized on the topic. 
  • Create unique content.



Step 8:
When you insert an image provide the image related information by using the "alt" attribute. ie <img src="file.jpg" alt="Describe your image" />

Uses of alt attribute:

  • When a user is viewing your site on a browser that doesn't support images, then the contents of the "alt" will provide the information about the site.
  • The alt text also is treated as an anchor text of a text link. Also it makes the image search of search engines easier to understand the images.
  • Store image files in a directory called images. 



Step 9:
Restrict crawling where it's not needed. 

"robots.txt" file tells search engines whether they can access and therefore crawl parts of your site. This file is placed in the root directory of your site. 
Sample of robots.txt file

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /tmp/
Disallow: /~joe/

The "User-agent: *" means this section applies to all robots. 
The "Disallow: " tells the robot that it should not visit any of the three directories specified.

Other ways to prevent crawling : adding "NOINDEX" meta tags, using .htaccess to password protect directories.

<html>
<head>
<title>...</title>
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">
</head>


References-

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