7 Simple Ways to Optimize Your Website
Since your website is the core of your search engine optimization and marketing, here are 7 simple ways to search engine optimize your web pages and websites. You might not think these are all important; you may have never heard of some, but if you follow these simple 7 steps, you too will have search engine optimized web pages, and your website visitors will thank you too!
1. <!DOCTYPE …> (Document Type Definition)
The doctype declaration should be the very first thing in an HTML document, before the <html> tag. The doctype declaration itself is not an HTML tag; it is an instruction to the web browser about what version of the markup language the page is written in. The doctype declaration refers to a Document Type Definition (DTD). The DTD specifies the rules for the markup language, so that the browsers can render the content correctly.
There are 2 primary doctypes we recommend, pick the most fitting for your content:
STRICT <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd”>
TRANSITIONAL <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd”>
One of these (if you are not using frames) should be the first line of your source code, when you view the source of your webpage.
2. HTML/XHTML/DHTML Markup
Markup is the code structure behind your webpage – HTML standing for “Hyper Text Markup Language”. As for every language, these have their own grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and every document written with these computer languages are supposed to follow these rules. One of the important foundations of website design is:
“Be clear and consistent and thorough in what you produce.”
Here are the the HTML tags that are most often misplaced, incorrectly formatted or omitted all together.
Doctype – DTD
<html> All but the DTD should be within the HTML tags
<head></head> Your meta tags, link and script references and any pre-load content goes in the HEAD
<body></body> Your page content goes in the BODY
</html> Should be the last tag on your page
<title></title> Page Title
<meta name=”” content=”” /> Meta Tags
<link type=”” rel=”” href=”” /> Link Reference
<script type=”” src=””></script> External Scripts
<script type=”” ></script> Inline Scripts
<h1></h1> Headings 1-6
<strong></strong> Bold Style
<em></em> Italic Style
<a href=”” title=””></a> Links
<img src=”” alt=”” title=”” /> Images
3. Code Bloat
Many times, webmasters will include superfluous HTML code in their webpages. Sometimes they are simply copy and pasting other code, and not really understanding the impact of that code on your website’s performance and how the search engines perceive your website.
In addition to simply merging code references, avoid inline styling and scripting as much as possible. In other words, don’t give any HTML tags a STYLE attribute unless you absolutely must! Nearly all of this can be achieved by adding a CLASS attribute and defining the CLASS in your external CSS file.
Generally speaking, if you can avoid all of this superfluous HTML coding, you can enhance the load times and efficient response of your website and the overall ratio of code to content, making your website content, the stuff you want to promote, stand out that much more!
4. Link Attributes
Nearly all of the tags, or markup, in your webpage content is allowed one or more attributes to describe or define the tag more clearly. Most often, this is a “name”, “id” or “class” attribute, but today we’re talking about search engine optimized webpages, so we’ll focus on links and images, the last two listed above.
Links have three primary attributes you wan to be very cognizant of:
The <a HREF=”” title=””></a>attribute
Be sure the HREF is in fact referencing a working URL. Having invalid links on your web pages will only detract from your ability to get ranked in the search engines. If you are linking to a page not on your domain, make sure you use a fully validated “http://” reference to that webpage.
The <a href=”” TITLE=””></a> attribute
Your link titles need to be relevant to the content the search engine spider or visitor will see when they click through. This gives everyone a heads up and a predefined idea of what content lies ahead. Search engines love this content, as it helps them categorize your links and identify new, relevant content.
The <a href=”” title=””>TEXT</a> inside the anchor
The text inside the link anchors themselves is just as important as the title attribute, but contextually, it should be different. For example, if I wanted to link to a contact page, I wouldn’t wrap the text “click here”, but rather “free business marketing consultation”.
5. Image Attributes
Optimizing your website has a great deal to do with the images you use, believe it or not. Some might say that images are unnecessary, but frankly, a website without optimized images will be hard pressed to reach a #1 ranking on any search engine for any competitive keywords.
The <img SRC=”” alt=”” title=”” /> attribute
Be sure the SRC is in fact referencing a working URL to your image. As mentioned before with Link tags, having invalid links or references on your web pages will only detract from your ability to get ranked in the search engines. If you are linking to an image, not on your domain, make sure you use a fully validated “http://” reference to that image.
The <img src=”” ALT=”” title=”” /> attribute
All of your images need an ALT tag, meaning “alternate text”, for accessibility reasons, but this tag represents content on your page, so including terms that are relevant to the contextual copy, rather than the visual imagery, you will be ahead of the optimization game.
The <img src=”” alt=”” TITLE=”” /> attribute
The TITLE acts nearly the same as the ALT, olny some browsers will render this tag as a tool-tip when a visitor hovers over the image, while others use the ALT. Point being, any and every chance you have to insert relevant content, should be utilized to its fullest. Make sense?
6. Unique, Specific Content
Many websites fail the optimization test by repeating the same SEO content to EVERY page. This applies to everything mentioned thus far in our look at search engine optimized webpages. Each unique page on your website needs to have a 70% uniqueness to it, as a baseline for proper optimization.
What’s that mean? Let’s say you have a “template” for your web pages. Certain content is going to show up on every page, including the same 30 words and an image. Each page must have at least 70 words not found in the “template”.
While this may be an oversimplification, I hope it has illustrated the simplicity of the concept. Unique and relevant content, or a lack there of, is the #1 reason that most websites fail to reach a search engine “optimized” status and enjoy the ranking and web traffic that comes with it.
7. Planning & Positioning
Planning your website out really is the first thing, but I mention it last because this subject really needs its own topic for discussion and clarification and I plan on sharing that information with you in the coming weeks.