SEO 101 - Part 2
How to make your pages search engine friendly
A very important point made by Google, MSN and Yahoo (and the others)
is that your website should be designed for humans, not for search
engines. I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment but you still
need to make sure a search engine crawler can find it's way around
You have to make sure every page on your site will be found by
search engine crawlers and crawled properly. Your site and pages
have to be set up correctly for this to happen. You need at least
basic HTML knowledge to understand how to do the following.
Your website will need internal links that a search engine
Your website should be linked together so that every single page
can be found by clicking a link from another page. The best way
to do this is to have a site map. A site map is a single page (or
series of pages if you have a huge site) which links every page
need a "noscript" section as well. Another important point
to remember is that, generally speaking, the more clicks away from
the home page a webpage is, the less likely that page is to appear
in the search index (but we'll cover the exceptions later).
Your web pages will need a unique title
Choosing titles for your web page is not hard - just choose a short
sentence or phrase which accurately describes what your page is
about. If your page is about growing cactus in the UK, there's your
title... Growing Cactus in the UK. This is also
what people will see in the search engine results pages, so if they
see your relevant page they will click on your link, even if
it is number four or five in the search results. Make sure
every page has it's own unique title.
Your web pages will need a unique meta description
Make sure your pages have a unique meta description. An effective
meta description is a short synopsis of what visitors will expect
to see on the webpage. This is NOT a place for repeating keywords
or telling lies about what the page is actually about. To use our
example of growing cactus in the UK, an appropriate meta description
would be "How to successfully grow cactus in the UK, with practical
tips and examples". If you don't have different and unique
meta descriptions for each page, the search engines may presume
that all your pages are the same.
Your pages need <h1> and <h2> tags
These tags, as well as <strong> and <em> tags, emphasize
to the search engines (and more importantly, visitors) the overall
theme of the content of your page. Remember, use these tags honestly
and appropriately. One heading with <h1> is enough. A <h2>
or <h3>for each relevant block of text is OK. One or two <strong>
on a particular keyword or keyphrase is more than adequate. If your
headings look ugly and contrived to a visitor, you will probably
be penalized by search engines now or in the future for them.
Check for errors on your site
It's easy to check for errors on your site, and there are a couple
of great tools available for free to do this. The first I use is
Xenu Linksleuth. You can read about it and download it from here.
Basically Xenu crawls your website like a search engine spider and
reports any broken links. This is very valuable information, because
broken links can stop search engine crawlers from crawling your
site. Broken links can arise from misspellings or pages that were
Another useful tool is Google
Webmaster Console. There are many useful functions in Webmaster
Console which we will talk about later but right now we'll highlight
their error reporting. (At this point don't upload a sitemap to
the Webmaster Console, I'll talk about that a little later). Once
you validate your website at Webmaster Console go to the crawl error
screen and you will be presented with any errors the Google crawler
encountered on your site. Obviously if the Google crawler has a
problem navigating your site then other search engine crawlers will
also have a problem.
Using these two tools gives you the opportunity to diagnose and
fix any errors with linking on your site and ensure greater success
when your site is indexed.
Next... Why aren't
my pages included in the index?
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