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Search Engine Optimization

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  #1  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Search Engine Optimization
  

Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results. You're likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they're essential ingredients for any webpage, but you may not be making the most out of them.

Even though this guide's title contains the words "search engine", we'd like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your site. They are the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results. Search engine optimization is about putting your site's best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines.

Create unique, accurate page titles

A title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is. The <title> tag should be placed within the <head> tag of the HTML document. Ideally, you should create a unique title for each page on your site.

Good practices for page title tags

Accurately describe the page's content - Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page's content.

Avoid:
  • choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page
  • using default or vague titles like "Untitled" or "New Page 1"

Create unique title tags for each page
Each of your pages should ideally have a unique title tag, which helps Google know how the page is distinct from the others on your site.

Avoid:
  • using a single title tag across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages

Use brief, but descriptive titles

Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long, Google will show only a portion of it in the search result.

Avoid:
  • using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users
  • stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags

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  #2  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Make use of the "description" meta tag

A page's description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page's title may be a few words or a phrase, a page's description meta tag might be a sentence or two or a short paragraph. Google Webmaster Tools provides a handy content analysis section that'll tell you about any description meta tags that are either too short, long, or duplicated too many times (the same information is also shown for <title> tags). Like the <title> tag, the description meta tag is placed within the <head> tag of your HTML document.

Good practices for description meta tags
  • Accurately summarize the page's content

Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description meta tag as a snippet in a search result.

Avoid:
  • writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page
  • using generic descriptions like "This is a webpage" or "Page about baseball
  • cards"
  • filling the description with only keywords
  • copy and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tag

Use unique descriptions for each page

Having a different description meta tag for each
page helps both users and Google, especially in searches where users may bring up multiple pages on your domain (e.g. searches using the site: operator). If your site has thousands or even millions of pages, hand-crafting description meta tags probably isn't feasible. In this case, you could automatically generate description meta tags based on each page's content.

Avoid:
  • using a single description meta tag across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages
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  #3  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Improve the structure of your URLs

Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website can not only help you keep your site better organized, but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines. Also, it can create easier, "friendlier" URLs for those that want to link to your content. Visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words.

A URL to a page on our baseball card site that a user might have a hard time with

URLs like these can be confusing and unfriendly. Users would have a hard time reciting the URL from memory or creating a link to it. Also, users may believe that a portion of the URL is unnecessary, especially if the URL shows many unrecognizable parameters. They might leave off a part, breaking
the link.

Some users might link to your page using the URL of that page as the anchor text. If your URL contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the page than an ID or oddly named parameter would.
Quote:
http://forums.techarena.in/guides-tutorials/
The highlighted words above could inform a user or search engine what the target page is about before following the link

Lastly, remember that the URL to a document is displayed as part of a search result in Google, below the document's title and snippet. Like the title and snippet, words in the URL on the search result appear in bold if they appear in the user's query.
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  #4  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Good practices for URL structure
  • Use words in URLs

URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might bemore willing to link to them.

Avoid:
  • using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
  • choosing generic page names like "page1.html"
  • using excessive keywords like "baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.
  • htm"

Create a simple directory structure

Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and is easy for visitors to know where they're at on your site. Try using your directory
structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.

Avoid:
  • having deep nesting of subdirectories like ".../dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/
  • page.html"
  • using directory names that have no relation to the content in them

Provide one version of a URL to reach a document

To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this.

Avoid:
  • having pages from subdomains and the root directory (e.g. "domain.com/
  • page.htm" and "sub.domain.com/page.htm") access the same content
  • mixing www. and non-www. versions of URLs in your internal linking structure
  • using odd capitalization of URLs (many users expect lower-case URLs and
  • remember them better)
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  #5  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Make your site easier to navigate

The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google's search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.

All sites have a home or "root" page, which is usually the most frequented page on the site and the starting place of navigation for many visitors. Unless your site has only a handful of pages, you should think about how visitors will go from a general page (your root page) to a page containing more specific content. Do you have enough pages around a specific topic area that it would make sense to create a page describing these related pages (e.g. root page -> related topic listing -> specific topic)?
Do you have hundreds of different products that need to be classified under multiple category and subcategory pages?

A sitemap (lower-case) is a simple page on your site that displays the structure of your website, and usually consists of a hierarchical listing of the pages on your site. Visitors may visit this page if they are having problems finding pages on your site. While search engines will also visit this page, getting good crawl coverage of the pages on your site, it's mainly aimed at human visitors.
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  #6  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Good practices for site navigation
  • Create a naturally flowing hierarchy
Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into your internal link structure.

Avoid:
  • creating complex webs of navigation links, e.g. linking every page on your site to every other page
  • going overboard with slicing and dicing your content (it takes twenty clicks to get to deep content)

Use mostly text for navigation

Controlling most of the navigation from page to page on your site through text links makes it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your
site. Many users also prefer this over other approaches, especially on some devices that might not handle Flash or JavaScript.

Avoid:
  • having a navigation based entirely on drop-down menus, images, or
  • animations (many, but not all, search engines can discover such links on a site, but if a user can reach all pages on a site via normal text links, this will improve the accessibility of your site; more on how Google deals with non-text files)

Use "breadcrumb" navigation - A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. Many breadcrumbs have the most general page (usually the root page) as the first, left-most link and list the more specific sections out to the right.

Put an HTML sitemap page on your site, and use an XML Sitemap file

A simple sitemap page with links to all of the pages or the most important pages (if you have hundreds or thousands) on your site can be useful. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your site helps ensure that search engines discover the pages on your site.

Avoid:
  • letting your HTML sitemap page become out of date with broken links
  • creating an HTML sitemap that simply lists pages without organizing them, for
  • example by subject

Consider what happens when a user removes part of your URL

Some users mightnavigate your site in odd ways, and you should anticipate this. For example, instead of using the breadcrumb links on the page, a user might drop off a part of the URL in the hopes of finding more general content.

He or she might be visiting
but then enter http://forums.techarena.in/web-news-trends/ into the browser's address bar, believing that this will show all news. Is your site prepared to show content in this situation or will it give the user a 404 ("page not found" error)? What about moving up a directory level to http://forums.techarena.in/web-news-trends/

Have a useful 404 page

Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. Google provides a 404 widget that you can embed in your 404 page to automatically populate it with many useful features.
You can also use Google Webmaster Tools to find the sources of URLs causing "not found" errors.

Avoid:
  • allowing your 404 pages to be indexed in search engines (make sure that your webserver is configured to give a 404 HTTP status code when non-existent pages are requested)
  • providing only a vague message like "Not found", "404", or no 404 page at all
  • using a design for your 404 pages that isn't consistent with the rest of your site
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  #7  
Old 14-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Offer quality content and services

Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means. Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.

While the content you create could be on any topic imaginable, here are some recommended best practices :

Good practices for content

Write easy-to-read text - Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.

Avoid:
  • writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes
  • embedding text in images for textual content (users may want to copy and
    paste the text and search engines can't read it)

Stay organized around the topic - It's always beneficial to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one content topic begins and another ends. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps users find the content they want faster.

Avoid:
  • dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page without paragraph, subheading, or layout separation

Use relevant language

Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time baseball fan might search for [nlcs], an acronym for the National League Championship Series, while a new fan might use a more general query like [baseball playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google AdWords provides a handy Keyword Tool that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the
approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Webmaster Tools provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to your site.Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time baseball fan might search for [nlcs], an acronym for the National League Championship Series, while a new fan might use a more general query like [baseball playoffs]. Anticipating these
differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google AdWords provides a handy Keyword Tool that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Webmaster Tools provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to
your site.

Create fresh, unique content - New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.

Avoid:
  • rehashing (or even copying) existing content that will bring little extra value to users
  • having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site

Offer exclusive content or services - Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. You could also write an original piece of research, break an exciting news story, or leverage your unique user base. Other sites may lack the resources or expertise to do these things.

Create content primarily for your users, not search engines - Designing your site around your visitors' needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.

Avoid:
  • inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines but are annoying or nonsensical to users
  • having blocks of text like "frequent misspellings used to reach this page" that add little value for users
  • deceptively hiding text from users, but displaying it to search engines
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  #8  
Old 16-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 109
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Write better anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link, and is placed within the anchor tag <a href="..."></a>.

This text tells users and Google something about the page you're linking to. Links on your page may be internal?pointing to other pages on your site?or external?leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you're linking to is about.

Good practices for anchor text

Choose descriptive text - The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about.

Avoid:
  • writing generic anchor text like "page", "article", or "click here"
  • using text that is off-topic or has no relation to the content of the page linked to
  • using the page's URL as the anchor text in most cases (although there are
  • certainly legitimate uses of this, such as promoting or referencing a new website's address)

Write concise text - Aim for short but descriptive text?usually a few words or a short phrase.

Avoid:
  • writing long anchor text, such as a lengthy sentence or short paragraph of text

Format links so they're easy to spot - Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Your content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them.

Avoid:
  • using CSS or text styling that make links look just like regular text

Think about anchor text for internal links too - You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to outside websites, but paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help users and Google navigate your site better.

Avoid:
  • using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines
  • creating unnecessary links that don't help with the user's navigation of the site
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  #9  
Old 16-01-2009
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 115
Re: Search Engine Optimization

Hey Ninad23 this is quite interesting & very nice guide you have posted about Search Engine Optimization.
Thanks a lot for the great guide.
Keep it up!
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