So what is effective SEO? What measures can be taken to optimize a website? This article discusses best practice strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of search engine optimization, or SEO as it relates to clean code.
Effective SEO: Clean Code
In this first part we will discuss some to-dos and some don’t-dos. What are the common mistakes people make in code that can sink SEO efforts and which ones should be included every time.
The Basic To-Dos
Here are the basic parameters Google is looking for and how the results can be improved:
- H1 and H2 – These should be used on every page and include the key words. No more than one H1 is necessary and should be used in page title. A minimum of two H2 tags should follow.
- Optimized and relevant meta data – Utilizing the meta description with: keyword placement, creating strategic category tags, title tags and alt tags on images, and appropriate linking are all must-haves one every page.
- Keyword placement – With this one remember to avoid keyword stuffing. The days of listing keywords over and over are long gone. Use the key work in the H1 title, H2 subtitles, and a few times in the content.
- Review code before publishing – Many content management systems (CRM) automatically add code. Some of it is unnecessary and messy. Be sure to review and eliminate messy code before publishing each page.
- Sitemap – A sitemap page allows you to tell the spiders which pages are key and specify structure. They simplify things for the spiders.
- Code Bloat – This overuse of pretty-making code may create an alluring site but the search engine spiders are not up to the job yet. Adding flash and iframes can create too much complication and confuse the crawlers. Minimize this kind dense code.
- Server-side code – This code should never be in the HTML source code. Server-side code can show up as visible information on a page, creating vulnerability to hackers and competitors. It also looks bad to end users.
- Watch the non-index directives – Double check meta robot tags for mistakes when using the non-index and no-follow tags. If unintentionally applied to the wrong page, these will obviously tank the SEO rating.
- Avoid semantic markup – Tags such as <em> and <strong> add emphasis but not value. Google has stated that stylistic tags, such as <i> and <b>, are a better choice. (The exception being the H1 and H2 tags discussed above.)
Efffective SEO Wrap-UP
Beyond adding the basics (H1 and H2 tags, keywords, image tags, a sitemap, and links) the general rule is to keep things simple. Content is the main event and the more distraction from it, the more difficult it becomes for the crawlers to review the page. When in doubt, leave it out.