Part one of the ‘SEO Basics’ series covered the importance of well optimised titles and meta descriptions. Part 2 takes on-page SEO one step further and discusses optimising various elements of a web page, including actionable tips to positively impact your SEO efforts.
This list isn’t all-encompassing, but it should get you on your way to a perfectly optimised web site:
Invigorate internal anchor text
Internal anchor text can be just as important as anchor text from inbound links. Non-descriptive anchor text such as ‘click here’ gives no indication to the search engines of the subject matter found by following that link. However, descriptive and on-topic anchor text can send all the right signals!
Imagine we’re linking to an internal page about SEO, anchor text which reads ‘SEO Services’ is far more beneficial to the users and the search engines than ‘here’.
Do the www and non-www versions of your website resolve to the same URL?
Your home page should only be accessible using one URL; having multiple versions of the home page means that the value of inbound links will be split between two domains, thus diluting their benefit.
Beyond this, search engines may view the pages as two separate websites and, therefore, as duplicate content which is detrimental to search engine optimisation as your page is essentially competing with itself.
Implementing a permanent (301) redirect from one of these links to your preferred domain should do the trick. This logic should also be applied to other variations of the home page; using index.html, home.php or even a trailing slash (‘/’) can all cause canonicalization issues.
Awesome ALT Text
The alt attribute specifies an ‘alternate’ text for images on a webpage, if the image cannot be displayed.
For example from a usability perspective, the alt attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it (because of slow connection, an error in the src attribute, or if a user with impaired sight uses a screen reader).
Alt attributes also offer an opportunity to go beyond context and latent semantics to help the search engines understand the content of your image. In short, Google can’t see an image, so tell the search engines what an image is with an Alt tag!
Excellent XML Sitemaps
Are you currently using an XML sitemap?
Sitemaps are a good way to tell Google about pages on your site it might not otherwise discover. In its simplest terms, an XML Sitemap is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process. This is particularly important if your internal linking structure isn’t as strong as it should be or if you update content frequently.
A step further would be to implement an HTML sitemap. This will make it easier for users to navigate your site and also ensure Google can find every page (it’s also an additional opportunity to use our old friend, internal anchor text!).
Google’s Matt Cutts gives the following advice on HTML and XML sitemaps:
You may have noticed that when you perform a search in Google, some web pages feature the author’s photo. Adding authorship mark-up to your page results in the display of your picture and information next to your pages in the SERPs, linked to your Google+ profile.
This indicates to Google which articles you’ve written and therefore allows you to build up an authoritative authorship profile in your particular niche.
Beyond this, having a profile picture displayed in the SERPs makes your page more visible to search engine users and increases click through rates!
Here’s more from Matt Cutts on creating an authoritative authorship profile: