What to know about SEO, part two

Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets are small pieces of code that are added to your website HTML that tell search engines to display your search results with extra details included.

Rich snippets can drive traffic to your site, since it gives users a better idea of what they can find there. Using rich snippets helps increase click-through rates and decreases bounces, since users are exposed to results relevant to their search.

To give users the best experience on your site, it’s important that your rich snippets accurately reflect your page content.

To use rich snippets, just add some basic information to your existing HTML.

Local Business rich snippets include the business address and phone number making it easy for customers to find them.

Ratings rich snippets display the aggregate star rating of products sold or shown on your site.

Authorship rich snippets include a photograph of the author pulled from their Google+ profile and a link to other articles written by them.

Events rich snippets include the details for your event like times, dates, and location.

Video rich snippets include a thumbnail for the video and allows the person searching to view it from the search results page.

Page Content

The content on your website’s pages — the visitor-facing text — plays an important role in search engine optimization. Search engines might use snippets of text from your page if it doesn’t contain a description tag, or in some situations the search engine might display page content that is more relevant to a user’s search. See How Search Engines Use It for an example. In addition to being well-written and informative, your content should also:

  • * Use page keywords often
  • * Be updated frequently (at least once every few weeks)
  • * Include between 300 and 700 words
  • * Contain original material that isn’t duplicated across multiple pages
  • * Avoid long blocks of text (1-4 sentences per paragraph, ideally)
  • * Favor shorter sentences (10 words or fewer)
  • * Incorporate both bulleted (unordered) and numbered (ordered) lists, where appropriate

 

Also, it’s always a good idea to check your text’s spelling and grammar.

Navigation

Navigation involves both external links to other websites and internal links to other pages within your site. Making your navigation SEO friendly ensures that search engine spiders will scan all of your pages. If a search engine can’t find a particular page, no matter how optimized the page is, it won’t be listed by search engines.

Search engines can’t read Flash® or JavaScript® navigation, so avoid using it. Also, many search engines won’t crawl more than 150 links on a particular page.

Always format your anchor tags correctly and try to use keywords in your anchor text when possible.

Site Map

A site map is a file that lists all the URLs in your website (for pages, files, images and everything else) that search engines use as a map for crawling your site. Your site map should live in the root or top-level directory for your website’s files, so the URL for it might look something like this: http://www.coolexample.com/sitemap.xml.

You can create your site map using a variety of formats, such as XML, HTML or RSS. Depending on the format you use, you can include a few details (meta data) with each URL, such as the last modified date, the change frequency, or the priority.

Search Engine Visibility creates an XML site map file customized with your selections. For more information, see sitemaps.org.

Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a Web page compared to the total number of words on the page. For example, if a keyword occurs 12 times on a Web page with 400 words, the keyword density is 3 percent. While search engines don’t necessarily use keyword density as a ranking factor, you can use it to make sure that you’re incorporating keywords into your Web page content. Keywords in your content is an indication that your Web page is relevant to people’s Web searches.

 

The best practice is to incorporate your keywords and variations on those keywords (i.e., “dome tent,” “dome,” “tent,”) as many times as you would naturally in your content. If you’re writing quality content that people want to read, this should happen without much effort.

Image Tag

Both search engines and people value web pages that use a combination of images and text, since it’s seen as a sign of quality, engaging content. The image tag is an important way to improve that value through search engine optimization, since it helps search engines understand your images. That’s right, your textual content isn’t the only information that search engines use to evalute your site.

If you use the image tag effectively, your images can show up in image search results and in blended search results that show images, news, places, and web pages on a single page.

To get the most SEO mileage out of your images, it’s important to include keywords in yoru image filename, alt attributes, and title attributes. Doing so helps your images rank in image searches and can also help that page rank for keywords.

Image Filename
Use a logical filename. Search engines can’t tell much about your images from the filenames if they’re simply numbered or use some other non-specific naming format. Filenames should describe the image and use keywords. For example, if you sell tents, naming a file tent5473.jpg is not helpful, since you probably sell many tents. Include more information, such as: two-person-dome-tent-green-P5473.jpg.

Alt Attributes
Always add the ALT attribute to the IMG tag; it’s the more important image attribute to search engines. Adding the ALT attribute provies search engines with more information about what the image is and helps that image and page rank for particular keywords.

Title Attributes
The title attribute can provide important information to users, since many browsers display it as a tooltip on mouseover. Be sure to include an accurate title for your image and include keywords for this attribute.

 

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