A Guide to Search Engine Optimisation

Please note: this SEO Guide was written in 2007 and some information may need updated

Search Engine Optimisation Tips

1. An Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation

2. Site Design Considerations

2.1 Do not use frames

2.2 Do not use dynamic URL’s

2.3 Do not have an entirely FLASH homepage

2.4 Do not use image maps as the only method of navigation

2.5 Do not use javascript as the only method of navigation

3. Carefully choose your keywords

4. Optimisation of your Title Tag

5. Optimisation of your page content

6. Optimisation of your META tags

7. Optimisation of your images using “alt”

8. Optimisation of your Text Hyperlinks

9. Optimisation of Heading Tags

10. How long should I wait before re-submitting to a particular
search engine?

11. Things to Avoid ~ Optimisation for Search Engines


1. An introduction to Search Engine Optimisation

Unfortunately simply submitting your web site to search engines will
not drive traffic to your site. Although submission is an integral part
of any effective search engine optimising strategy, you must achieve good
search positions for anyone to find your listing. Hopefully our useful
hints and tips will help you optimise your site and achieve that top ten
position.

As any search engine optimisation company will tell you, getting you
site listed in the first ten results for a specific keyword is as much
art as a science. Anyone can get to number 1 on a unique word or trade
name, but on a generic key phrase, it’s much more tricky. Search engine
optimising can be difficult and confusing, but once you are aware of the
key optimisation techniques, time and persistence can yield a hugely gratifying
reward if you get it right.

As Search Engine Optimiser’s (SEO’s), we ensure that the relevant words
and phrases appear in the best positions on the pages. There are many
other considerations, complicated by the engines modifying their preferences
on a monthly basis. We pay for access to a the Wordtracker
keyword database, which holds 301 million entries over the last 60 days.
Using this information, we make sure that we are optimising the page in
such a way that people will find it.


2. Site design considerations

2.1 Do not use frames

One of the biggest potential pitfalls for Webmasters is search engines
that do not index the text within frames. A frame is an HTML page that
“frames” other HTML pages. If your site uses frames you homepage
is actually a frameset with no real content. Several major engines (including
Excite, WebCrawler and HotBot) do not support frames, others do not index
framed sites very well. If you site uses frames we recommend redesigning
your site without them if you want to get good listings in the search
engines.

If you must use frames, include text in the <NOFRAMES> tag. Another
solution is to create pages (without frames) to act as doorways or alternate
entrances to your site for the purpose of giving these engines something
they can see and index.

2.2 Do not use dynamic URL’s

Most search engine cannot list dynamic URL’s which are commonly listed
on database driven sites using scripting languages such as VBScript within
Active Server Pages (ASP). An example of a dynamic URL is shown below.

http://www.searchengineoptimising.com/products.asp?ID=dynamic+example

 

2.3 Do not have an entirely FLASH homepage

Search engines cannot index pages made entirely with FLASH. When you
submit a page to a search engine a spider will follow the links on the
page and listing the rest of the site. The best way to remedy this is
to create a site map that uses normal html links to every page on your
site. Also add a standard HTML link on each page of you site that links
to the site map.

2.4 Do not use image maps as the only method of navigation

Search engines cannot index the code that makes up image maps. You can
use image maps in your site but you should also include standard html
links. As with a Flash site, create a site map that uses normal html links
to every page on your site. Also add a standard HTML link on each page
of you site that links to the site map.

2.5 Do not use javascript as the only method of navigation

Search engines can’t follow links that are within Javascript, so your
site will not get spidered unless you also have some form standard HTML
hyperlinks that they can follow. You should add some form standard HTML
hyperlinks to all of your pages on each of your pages so that your site
will be spidered properly. An easy way to do this is to create a site
map page uses standard HTML links to link to every page on your site.
Then add a standard HTML link on each page of your site that links to
the site map.


3. Carefully choose your keywords

Target the wrong keywords and all your efforts will be in vain. Choose
the right keywords and you’ll see your traffic dramatically increase.
Therefore, think long and hard about what keywords people are most likely
to use when search for your site. Make lists of single keywords and then
combine them into phrases.

For more information on choosing and the optimisation
keywords for particular search engines have a look at our keywords
section
.


4 . Optimisation of your Title Tag

The title tag of your page is an extremely important factor to consider
during the optimisation of a web page for search engines. This is because
many engines and directories place a high level of importance on keywords
that are found in your title tag. The title tag is also what the search
engines usually use for the title of your listing in the search results.

What it looks like:

Here’s the title tag of this page:

<TITLE>Hints and Tips – optimisation of your title tag for search
engines</TITLE>

Where it belongs:

The correct placement for the title tag is between the <HEAD> and
</HEAD> tags within the HTML the makes up your page.

Tag limits:

Generally, we recommend that your title tag, including spaces, be between
50-80 characters long. The optimum level differs from search engine to
search engine, therefore we recommend using a tool such as Web CEO tool to analyse your page.

Tips for optimising your Meta Tags:

  • We recommend including 1-2 of your most important keyword phrases
    in the title tag, be careful not to just list keywords. If you just
    list keywords you risk being viewed as a spamming the engines which
    can ultimately lead to you being blacklisted by the search engines.
    Your title tag should include your keyword phrases while remaining as
    close to a readable sentence as possible to avoid any problems.
  • Make your title enticing! Don’t forget that even if you get that #1
    listing in the search engines your listing still needs to say something
    that makes the surfer want to clickthrough and visit your site.
  • Since the length of your title tag could be a little long for some
    engines we suggest placing the keywords at the beginning of the tag
    when possible so that you do not risk having them cut off.
  • Each page of your site should have a unique title tag with it’s own
    keywords that related to the page that it appears on.

5. Optimisation of your page content

Your page content is another very important factor in achieving better
search engine listings. Your page content is the information that a visitor
would read from the page. Search engines look through Did you know that
just like a visitor to your site would read the copy on your page to figure
out what you have to offer, the search engines do too? And what do you
think the search engines are looking for when they ‘read’ your page copy?
Keyword phrases, of course!

Page content tips:

  • We recommend that each page you submit has at contains least 200 words.
  • This text should include your most important keyword phrases, but
    should remain logical & readable.
  • Include the phrases that you have used in your other tags (i.e. metas,
    alt, headings, title, etc.) during the optimisation process.
  • Add additional content rich pages to your site. For example, how-to
    articles, hint and tips, or tutorials. These types of content pages
    not only help you in the search engines, but many other sites will link
    to them too.

6. Optimisation of your META tags

The head element contains general information (meta-information) about
a document. HTML also includes a meta element that goes inside the head
element. The purpose of the meta element is to provide meta-information
about the document.

Most often the meta element is used to provide information that is relevant
to browsers or search engines like describing the content of your document.
Some search engines will use the name and content attributes of the meta
tag to index your pages.

This meta element defines a description of your page:

<meta name=”description” content=”Free Web tutorials
on HTML, CSS, XML, and XHTML”>

This meta element defines keywords for your page:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”HTML, DHTML, CSS, XML,
XHTML, JavaScript, VBScript”>

The intention of the name and content attributes is to describe the content
of a page. However, since too many webmasters have used meta tags for
spamming, like repeating keywords to give pages a higher ranking, many
major search engines have stopped using them entirely.

Where they belong:  The correct placement for both meta tags
is between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags within the HTML the makes
up your page. Their order does not really matter, but most people usually
place the description first then the keywords meta. Tag limits:

  • We recommend that your Keywords Meta not exceed 1024 characters including
    spaces.
  • We recommend that  your Description Meta tag not exceed 250 characters
    including spaces.

Meta description tips:

  • Make sure you accurately describe the content of your page while trying
    to entice visitors to click on your listing.
  • Include 3-4 of your most important keyword phrases. Especially those
    used in your title tag and page copy.
  • Try to have your most important keywords appear at the beginning of
    your description. This often brings better results, and will help avoid
    having any search engine cut off your keywords if they limit the length
    of your description.

Meta keywords tips:

  • Aside from what we mention in the other tips below you should only
    use those keyword phrases that you also used in the copy of your page,
    title tag, meta description, and other tags. Any keywords phrases that
    you use that do not appear in your other tags or page copy are likely
    to not have enough prominence to help your listings for that phrase.
  • Don’t forget plurals.
  • Don’t forget common misspelling of a popular keyword that could be
    used to find your site.
  • Watch out for repeats! You want to include your most important phrases,
    but when doing so it can be difficult not to repeat one word many times.
    There in no limit, but we recommend that no one word be repeated in
    the keyword meta more than 5 times.
  • If your site has content of interest to a specific geographic location
    be sure to include the actual location in your keyword meta.

7. Optimisation of your images using “alt”

The alt attribute is used to define an “alternate text” for
an image. The value of the alt attribute is an author-defined text:

<img src=”optimised.gif” alt=”Search
Engine Optimisation”>

The “alt” attribute tells the reader what he or she is missing
on a page if the browser can’t load images. The browser will then display
the alternate text instead of the image. It is a good practice to include
the “alt” attribute for each image on a page, to improve the
display and usefulness of your document for people who have text-only
browsers.

Although not all search engines use the Alt tab it can help your listings
on some of them. We recommend on using 2-3 words for each image and using
it where ever possible.


8. Optimisation of Text Hyperlinks

A text based hyperlink is a standard HTML example optimising search
(this is an example link that does not go anywhere).

Search engines use complex algorithms to see if what you are linking
to is something closely related to the content of your page. Some of the
engines look for keywords in hyperlinks and in the surrounding text of
the hyperlinks. We recommend including your most important keyword phrases
in the link itself and possibly the surrounding text.


9. Optimisation of Heading Tags

Headings are defined with the <h1> to <h6> tags. <h1>
defines the largest heading. <h6> defines the smallest heading.

<h1>This is a heading</h1>

<h2>This is a heading</h2>

<h3>This is a heading</h3>

<h4>This is a heading</h4>

<h5>This is a heading</h5>

<h6>This is a heading</h6>

HTML automatically adds an extra blank line before and after a heading.

Although they are used less frequently due to new technologies, HTML
heading tags can help improve your listings in the search engines also.
You should include you most important keyword phrases in the heading tags
on your page. Some search engines use them in the analysis of your page
content.


10. How long should I wait before re-submitting to
a particular search engine?

MSN 30 days
Google 4-6 weeks
AltaVista 15-30 days
Fast 15-30 days
Excite 4-6 weeks
Northern Light 30 days
AOL 30 days
HotBot 30 days
iWon 30 days

11. Things to Avoid attempting Optimisation techniques
for Search Engines

You should not try to trick a search engine in any way because you risk
being blacklisted by them.

  • Excluding the meta keyword tag, do not list you keyword one after
    another anywhere on the page
  • An old trick is to try and keyword stuff the page by using the same
    colour text as the page’s background. Search engines can detect this
    and view it as spam.
  • Do not submit the same page to any search engine more than once in
    any twenty-four hours.
  • Do not submit identical pages. You should instead give them different
    filename and change the title and, if possible, the keywords for the
    page.
  • Do not use any keywords in your keywords meta tag that do not directly
    relate to the content of your page.
  • Don’t use any keywords in your keywords meta tag that do not directly
    relate to the content of your page.

Good Luck with your Optimisation!

SearchEngineOptimising.com

The Search Engine Optimising (SEO) Team