SEO rules: How to tag your website
By Kathleen Aoki
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website in order to increase search engine rankings. The fact is that for any particular query there may be thousands, if not millions, of webpages to satisfy that query. There has to be a way for search engines to narrow the many possibilities in order to produce the most relevant results for searchers.
That's where algorithms come in. Algorithms are complex mathematical equations used by search engines to determine the best results for any given search. Algorithms take into account hundreds of factors on a site, such as the frequency of specific keywords, content quality, the number of internal and external links, and meta tags.
Tagging your site
What does this mean for you as small business owner? Quite a lot. From selecting the right keywords and creating good content to properly tagging your HTML code, you need to make sure your site is correctly configured for SEO so that searchers can find you.
The focus of this article is on how to tag your website, which is an important and often overlooked piece of the overall SEO puzzle.
What are (meta) tags?
Simply put, meta tags are pieces of code on a website that help search engines determine what a site is about. For example, the "title" tag is used to define the title of a webpage document and is considered to be the single most important SEO element on a webpage.
Important meta tags and their uses
- Title tag: Title tags appear in three places on a webpage. The title tag needs to be a concise (less than 70 characters) yet informative and keyword-laden description of a webpage. As mentioned above, it is the most important SEO factor on your website.
- Meta description tag: Approximately 155 characters long, this tag is used by search engines to provide users a snippet of what your site is about. The meta tag should contain your keywords, but also be compelling and informative so that users will want to click on it. Meta descriptions should be unique for each webpage - don't duplicate them.
- Rel=author and rel=publisher: Use these tags to identify the author or publisher of your content if appropriate. These tags are used by Google to identify reliable sources of content, which can potentially increase rankings.
- Social meta tags: Use social meta tags to control how your website snippet appears in Facebook and Twitter posts when someone shares your link. For example, by including the right image. This article from Quick Sprout discusses how to do it.
- Headings (H1, H2, H3): Headings should include your keywords and have a clear hierarchy.
- Alt tags: Add keyword-friendly alt tags to your images and videos so that they will be indexed by the search engines and help increase your ranking.
- URL: Use your keywords to create human-friendly URLs. URLs should always clearly display the hierarchy of a particular page. For example: http://widgetcompany.com/ is at the top of the hierarchy, being the homepage, while it is clear that http://widgetcompany.com/widgets/green-widgets is a subcategory, and easily readable thanks to proper keyword use in the URL.
Tags in action
Let's say you have a website for your gluten-free cookie business, Superior Gluten Free Cookie Company. Your keywords are gluten free cookies. Here's an example of how to use these tags effectively:
- Title tag: Gluten free cookies | Superior Gluten Free Cookie Company
- Meta tag: The Superior Gluten Free Cookie Company specialises in gluten free cookies, baking Australia's best-tasting gluten free cookies.
- Heading H1: Gluten free cookies made by the Superior Gluten Free Cookie Company.
- Heading H2: Why our gluten free cookies taste so great.
- Heading H3: Why gluten free cookies are better for your health.
- Image of cookies, called "gluten_free_cookies.jpg"
- Page URL: http://superiorcookie.com/gluten-free-cookies.
- Content: Make frequent mention of your keywords throughout the text of your content.
If you are not familiar with how to use tags on your website, consult with a web designer or developer who can assist you.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into the importance and proper use of tags on your website. While it may not be the most exciting part of building a website, creating well-defined tags plays a vital role in SEO rankings and is a must for every website's SEO strategy.