SEO Basics

 
 

This guide will take you through most essential SEO steps every webmaster should perform.

Page Titles

Page title is on the very top of the list as far as on-site optimisation goes. Google will use it to help determine the topic of your pages and serve it as a clickable link in the results. This means that it’s not only important for getting into the results but also how many people will click through to your website from the search results. Do not repeat the same title tag on multiple pages.

Meta Description

Much like the title tag, meta description will be seen in the result snippets and will influence users’ decision on whether to click on your website listing in the search results or not. You should have a unique meta description tag for each page on your site.

Site Structure

Ensure that what’s important to you and your users sits closer to the home page of your site. If it takes five clicks to get to your main page Google may treat that content unimportant.

URLs

Your website URLs should be descriptive and neat. Avoid placing unnecessary variables in URLs if not absolutely essential. Example of this is where a variable in your URL changes nothing but the background colour of your website (e.g. page.php?id=1&background=blue). Google may index different colour background pages and treat them as duplicate content. This is not helpful. Another thing that can get in a way is affiliate IDs and URL session variables in shopping carts.

Navigation

Both search engines and users will appreciate good navigation. Ensure that the site has clear and logical navigation in line with a well planned site structure. Consider breaking up a category with too many sub categories or merging multiple categories with a single category under them. Another great feature is to have ‘hackable’ URLs by allowing users to change a part of the URL to get to another location of your site conveniently. Provide breadcumbs as they can serve as an additional way to browse the site and they also aid search engines in understanding where the page belongs in your site’s navigation structure and hierarchy.

Content

Think about your content as a main communication device with your visitor. Don’t write for search engines, write for your visitors. Be mindful though that you’re not using internal jargon and text your visitors would never search for or understand once on your website. If the term is not mention on your website it will be very difficult for potential visitors to find you for it. When linking between your pages use descriptive anchor text as this will tell search engines what the next page is about. Do the same thing with your images by using alt text. When writing pages with complex topical structure ensure you’re utilising headings appropriately and in a correct hierarchy.

Crawlers

Ensure your website is accessible and not blocked through robots.txt. You can use the same file to prevent sensitive parts of your website from being indexed. When linking to websites you don’t trust use rel=”nofollow” tag within the links. It’s a good practice to use the same tag on any user-generated content such as blog comments and forums. This will discourage spammers from posting links on your site.

Links

Links are what powers your website in the rankings. You should encourage others to link to you as each link from another site is a vote which search engines use to judge your reputation and trust. When linking to you ask others to use descriptive anchor text (e.g. “John’s Plumbing Services” instead of “John’s Website” or “Click Here”).

Useful Resources

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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