BEGINNING SEO TUTORIAL - For Web Design
1. eClasses Excerpt
Below is an excerpt from Week 2 of the
course I teach at eclasses.org. Some of the urls below
may require a subscription to Planet Ocean's Unfair Advantage Search Engine eBook. If you're
interested in taking the 6 week online course or getting the
eBook contact me.
2. Enquiro's Webinar
I would also like to recommend you take some time to review webcast on SEO Design concerns.
Enquiro's webinar* that goes over top SEO redesign concerns and steps around implementing a redesign (this requires registration). It's a bit technical, but don't be too stressed if some of the terminology here in this recap is confusing, or in the webinar you viewed. The more you're exposed to SEO phrases and its workings the more
it will make more sense. And of course we're also here to help answer your questions!
By the way, Enquiro's SEO Packages start at $4000/mo x 12 months! Salaries of SEO Marketers vary by experience and geography, but the studies show some good salaries and high priced fees related to offering SEO services.)
SEO eClasses Excerpt / Summary:
1. Getting Started - Steps to Creating Top Ranking
This week we're going to provide an overview on how
to create top ranking pages, starting with some important
elements like selecting domain names, crafting page titles,
meta descriptions and meta keyword tags. These are defined
as some of the "on the page elements" that are part of the
search engines' consideration in ranking a site.
We'll also learn that high rankings aren't enough.
Your site's listing in the search engine (it's the title and
the page description that is displayed as result of a query)
has to be enticing and meaningful. And, you'll learn from
our reading and assignment that getting a good description
into the engines isn't always a simple task.
Then we're going to move into the real "guts"
of SEO: keyword research and selection, ranking factors like
keyword density, powerful copywriting, link popularity and
page reputation. You'll learn that SEO goes way beyond
the common misconception of just simply inserting a title,
meta description and meta keyword tag into a page. In fact, Google has reported that they take into account over 200 different factors in their search engine algorithm.
2. Site Design Elements: On-the-Page and
If you're doing SEO for a client, after you've
outlined the scope of your work, submitted a proposal and
gotten the signed contact and any deposit, you're finally
ready to start creating top ranking pages. Let's begin by
looking at some of the most important site design elements
as far as most search engines algorithms are concerned. They
include "on-the-page" criteria as well as "off-the-
The domain name, page title, keywords in the
content are among the on-the-page criteria SE use to
match rank how closely a searchers query matches the page
it has stored. On-the-page criteria are anything you can modify
via the construction of a page and site. This includes everything
that is placed in the headers, body, and on-page links (both
internal), the html coding, page size, the site's architecture
or navigation and how it was constructed. We'll learn search
engines for example, give special attention to keywords in
page titles, meta description, meta keywords, headings, bold,
italic fonts, etc. It also takes into account the page's keyword
proximity, keyword density and relevance...more on this in
Week 3 of the class.
Off-the-page criteria includes all links
(both from pages contained within your own web site and from
pages of other web sites) that point to your specific page(s).
Inlinks to a site are used by search engines to give a clue as the page's importance. High quality
pages are likely to have pages both within and outside the
site pointing to them. It's also better if they also contain
select keyword phrases in the link (called anchor text).
3. Designing Search Engine Friendly Pages
- Hindrances and Solutions
In Chapter 2 the eBook I've linked to above there is a section it
talks about some design techniques that offer the search engines
trouble, like having code that isn't validated, using frames,
side includes. Some of these could be considered more intermediate/advanced
SEO topics, but let's go over some here.
a. W3C compliance: Search engines like
simple coding - so making sure they comply with W3C is important
as is inserting a valid DOC type to enable browsers to display
your pages correctly. Here's the DOC type to use: HTML 4.01
Strict, Transitional, Frameset
(all on one line) And here's where you can check yours for
anything they can't handle: http://validator.w3.org/
With the widespread use of cascading style sheets
you might want to validate it as well: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
b. Avoid Using Frames: First let me say
while most SE offer frames support, I'm not a fan of them.
That's because from my experience I think they generally lower
search engine rankings and the usability of the site for the
visitor. The user also often has the problem of no navigation
to another page (unless a workaround is done to load it),
and there's also the inability to bookmark a page, or to send
the url to friends.
frames are becoming less popular (most consider them "first
in a remote .js file where possible.
d. Site Navigation, Site Maps, Robots.txt
files: We also know that having optimized pages as close
to the top directory, and not buried in numerous subdirectories
which some carts generate is important to search engines.
So try to create as flat a site directory structure
as possible to assist with rankings and getting the spiders
to come and index your pages.
It's also a good idea to put in a site map
page with links (optimized) to all your pages. Put it
in your root domain and link it to the home page. Along with
that, help engines avoid the files you don't want indexed
by putting a robots.txt file in place. Make sure that
you don't put in instructions disallowing spiders altogether
though - as some designers have mistakenly done. Later well
also learn about the importance of files called the xml sitemap and .htaccess
file and use of 301 error redirects for redesigned sites or
where there is a switch over to a new site.
e. Dynamically Created Sites and Shopping
Carts: Dynamically generated sites, where content is pulled
from a database also present numerous problems. Having long
looking urls with special characters in them including session
and user ID's can confuse the search engines. These are more
of an advanced SEO issues -- but I will add that shopping
carts like OSCommerce, Miva Merchant and Able Commerce have
come to realize this, and you'll find some workarounds in
their later editions or in software plug-ins. We also learned
there is also a function called mod_rewrite that enables you
to replace dynamic urls with static looking ones. There are
some good discussions in the forums we've introduced that
talk about dynamic pages and flash and the available workarounds.
4. The On the Page Elements - Four Important
This week we're beginning with SEO in focusing
on these important page elements: page titles, meta tags
(meta description and meta keyword), copywriting with keywords,
We know that getting your web site indexed
by the search engines is not enough. Your web pages must be
listed within the first 3 pages of search results or searchers
will never find it. Ideally, you should strive for a first
page listing. But just as important as ranking high, is that
to enhance your chances of getting your web page listing clicked
though, you need to make sure your search listing displayed
to the searcher is enticing and relevant to the searcher.
Researchers at Penn State analyzed over 450,000
web queries submitted to AlltheWeb.com in a 24-hour period
and came up with some interesting results. What I found
most insightful was that 8 out of 10 times it's the search
abstract (or listing) that dissuades searchers from going
to a site. "People make instantaneous judgments about whether to
stay on a site, and if a site doesn't the give the right impression,
users will bypass it," said Dr. Jim Jansen, assistant professor
in Penn State's information sciences and technology (IST).
"A page has to be well-designed, easy to load and relevant
to a searcher's needs."
Here's a summary of the study's findings:
o Half of all users entered only one search query
o About 55% of users checked out one result only
o More than 80% stopped after looking at three results
o 54% of users viewed just one page of search results per
visit to the search engine
o Only 19% of users went on to the second page
o Fewer than 10% of users looked at the third page of search
o Eight out of 10 times, the abstract (listing) dissuades
searchers from going to a site
o Upon clicking through to a site, one in five searchers stay
60 seconds or less
o One out of every two search results isn't relevant to what
the searcher was looking for
On Copywriting, keep in mind also what the search engine
has to go by is what it stored in its index, which may be
only the first 100K of the select page (i.e. Google).
So be sure to include your keywords in the top copy of the
page. Another reason for doing this is if you leave out the
meta description - or the engine doesn't support it - search
engines will look to the most prevalent text to come up with
a good page description, which may not work to your best interest.
The Title Tag is an HTML code that shows
the words that appear in the Title bar at the top of your
web browser. These words do not necessarily appear anywhere
else on your web page. Often what is displayed in the browser
is truncated. Since the Title Tag plays a vital role in determining
your site's ranking so you need to pay A LOT of attention
to the words that appear in the title tag and the order in
which they appear. The specifics as to optimal title length
and so on were provided in the ebook as "The Enginemaster
On the subject of domains, we know having
select keywords in your url can still help in rankings.
Useful SEO Resources:
Resource Site / Forum: Web Pro News
Web Pro News is an article portal for Internet and Technology
professionals. It also has an email newsletter that has over
800,000 subscribers. You'll find lots of useful SEO advice
here as well.
Keyword brainstorming resources
Google's Suggestion Tool
Wordtracker Keyword Research Tool (Requires Subscription)
More SE Resouces:
To check Yahoo/Google rankings (fun comparison):
Search Engine Relationships Chart (Pretty much boils down to Google and Bing Rankings Now)
Wikipedia SEO article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization
Danny Sullivan's - Search Engine Watch
(I highly recommend a paid membership)