In the previous article I broke down some general concepts to help you structure your content in a way that's easy to grasp for both human visitors and search engines. Once you've done that, you should be in pretty good shape SEO-wise. Some simple, technical tricks will help you increase your competetive advantage even further.
Optimising Link Text
Use clear and descriptive link texts. The link text is the visible part of a link that the user can click on. In HTML it's defined inside the anchor tag. Here's an example:
<a href="http://www.google.com">Search on Google</a>
The link text tells the user what to expect when they decide to click the link. At the same time, it gives Google some valuable information about the site you're linking to. Regardless of whether you're linking to external or internal pages, spend some time writing useful link texts that fit you're content. Here's some things you should avoid:
- Unnecessarily long link texts or linking entire paragraphs
- Stuffing link texts with keywords
- Styling links in a way that makes them hard to recocgnise (e.g removing the underline)
- Too many links in a body of text. Links are meant to help users navigate and give them useful recources. Unless you're Wikipedia, stick with just a handful of links.
- Having the same link texts for different link targets. Each target should be referred to with a unique link text.
Give images reasonable file names and provide alternative text
Search engines like Google have become very good at understanding text and extracting the content. However, they don't have eyes. Images are just files like any other to search engine bots. They have no way of knowing what the image actually shows, at least at the time of this writing.
That's why you should go the extra mile and give all your images meaningful filenames and use the ALT attribute.
Google looks at the filename to get a rough idea of what the image shows. But don’t start and give your images crazy long, keyword-stuffed filenames. That would only get you negative attention. Let's say you have a photo of the Empire State Building, a filename like
empire-state-building.jpg is appropriate. Something like
the-empire-state-building-in-new-york-city-usa-built-1929-paris-hilton.jpg is not.
The alt attribute lets you store an alternative description for an image. It's displayed when the actual image file, for whatever reason, fails to load. That reason doesn't have to be a network error, many people turn off images in their email clients for example. If you use an image as a link to more content or an external site, the alt attribute will serve as link text.
Using the robots.txt file
By default, Google crawls your entire website and indexes every subpage and all content accordingly. In some cases though, you might not want certain pages to show up in search results. If you have certain pages that aren't interesting to users, you’ll do them and search engines a favour by hiding that content. Find a robots.txt generator and more information about them on Google Webmaster Central.
The title tag gives a one-senetence description of what a page is about and helps users and search engines get an idea of what content to expect. Put the
<title> tag in the
<head> of your HTML document. Every page of your website should have its own, unique title. Contrary to popular opinion, the title tag is not an important factor for search engine rankings at all. Google completely ignores its contents when your site's ranking is calculated. So why would you even invest time and effort into writing good title tags? Because the title tag is the first line of your search result. That's why it's crucial to set the title, and consider carefully what it should say.