As promised this will be about onpage and under the hood SEO basics. Starting at the top (of the html) we have the……… nope not the title, first let’s take a look at the Doctype. What does the Doctype have to do with SEO? Almost nothing but why not start out by telling the spiders what type of page you attempted to make and what type of code you are trying to write? It can’t hurt and might help them parse the page better. If you aren’t sure what the Doctype is then run over to the web standards authority and check it out and also read SEO and Validation.
OK, now the Title, what makes a good title? How is it used? The title will show in the title bar of most web browsers. There are not really any good statistics I’m aware of for how many people look at page titles when they are on your site but when they search, they are generally served your title in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). We also know that Google, Yahoo, and Bing look at and put enough weight on your page title that it really matters. You can change your page title and only your page title and watch some of your search positions change, that’s how important the title is. If that’s true then why not SPAM the title? Simple, if I need a jack and the search results at position 4 is Jack : Lift : Heavy : Duty : Ultimate : Hydraulic and the position 5 result is The Ultimate Heavy Duty Hydraulic Jack by the JackMan then which one do you think gets more clicks? Another reason to make good titles is because the algorithms are very good at detecting SPAM and chances are you will do more harm than good if you just create stuffed titles. Moving on let’s decide what the page is about and craft a good title for humans and bots. For humans we need to strive for a complete sentence that makes sense and draws attention or demands action. Pick the topic of the page and try to get the main keywords or phrase in the first half of the title. Wow! All that in less than 70 characters including spaces, good luck. Good titles can be a challenge but you will be rewarded for your effort. Try it, pick a product or service and try creating a title that would make you click it. After all, that is the goal, we want clicks because clicks equal traffic.
What about the page description meta tag? The search engines will most likely use your description to form the SERP description. Don’t copy the title, don’t use special characters. Include the main keywords or phrase for the page content. There is no penalty per se for a short description but you might be missing out on some keyword opportunities. Too little content could get a bot generated description that misses the point of your page. Take the opportunity to sell your product, service, or idea and use between 30 and 150 characters as a guideline.
The once powerful and now dusty and often forgotten keyword meta tag can still be useful so don’t completely neglect it. Put in your secondary keywords and key phrases, the ones that aren’t in your title and description. Limit duplicate words in phrases to 3. You can even include common typos. You can use up to 500 characters as a guideline but that’s probably more time than it deserves. I can’t tell you what search engine spyders still look at the keywords meta but there is some indication that Bing (Formerly MSN – Live Search) will grade your keywords but the weight is probably very low.
Well, I’m out of time so we will get to heading element, page content and copy writing in the next chapter.