SEO for Static Websites: Creating/Editing Static Pages for SEO

SEO Search EngineDue to the time needed to create and edit them, static pages are often the bane of web developers and designers alike. To an SEO professional, however, they provide for an easy way to tailor SEO efforts to specific keywords. Here is a guideline for creating new or editing existing static pages for maximum SEO effect. As you go through these, keep in mind that the end goal is to provide useful content to your visitors, so none of these steps should be carried to the point of making your website less useful to your visitors (ie keyword stuffing, giving your URLs ridiculously long file names, etc).

1 – Choose 2-3 priority keywords

Figure out what people are searching for in relation to your subject, and use that terminology accordingly. For example, an electric winch and an electrical winch are the same things. However, according to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the phrase electric winch gets far more searches. So, using the GA keyword tool, figure out what people are searching for online.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

2 – Name/Rename your file name accordingly

Naming your URL based on your priority KWs is no more difficult than giving it any other name. Renaming your file is no more difficult than copying an existing file and giving it a more SEO-oriented file name. So there is very little in the way of manual work here. So if your page is about laser hair removal in orange county, you may want to name your URL something like:


301 Redirect your old URLs

If you are renaming an existing URL, then you will want to make sure you 301 redirect your old version to your new one. This way, any external links (or even internal links which you may overlook) pointing to the old page will be automatically redirected to the new page, which will also benefit from any links pointing to the old one. Otherwise, your link equity will be split between the old and the new page, rather than being focused entirely on the new one.

Canonical Link Rel

If for whatever reason you can’t implement a 301 redirect on your old page, you can use the Canonical link rel element to pass on any link equity from the old to new URL.

3 – Meta/Title Tags

Title Tag

Your title tag should be descriptive and should contain your priority keywords (in the example below, these are track redirect and track redirects). I generally try not to exceed 60 characters, 80 max.

Meta Description

While overlooked for ranking value, what you put in your description shows up in your search results. Think of it as your teaser. This is your chance to grab the reader’s attention and explain to them why they should click your link, as opposed to the guy above or below your listing. If you don’t create content for this tag, Google will likely show content from your website where your keywords tend to be located. This may not be the most intelligent thing to show users, so don’t leave it up to what Google’s robot sees. Decide what users will see when your listing shows up by creating a meta description. I generally like to keep my descriptions within 100 characters.

Meta Keyword

Many SEOs now avoid this altogether and see it as useless since Google essentially ignores this for rankings (thanks to webmaster from the early days of the web who abused this tag). However, it takes very little time to populate the tag with a few choice keywords. I don’t spend too much time on this tag. What I generally go is copy-paste a handful of topically relevant words form the page and enter them here (and of course, I include my priority keywords here).

A Bold strategy

Including your keywords in your Title and Meta Descriptions, along with your URL will mean that your keyword will show up in bold when your listing shows up. This helps get the user’s attention, increasing your chances of a click through.

Also, keep in mind that the Title tag also appears on the top of the browser window. So even from a usability perspective, including your keywords in your Title tag is useful for informing your readers what the page is about.

For more in depth information on these tags (ie. ideal character counts)

4 – Body Copy

Keyword density

While I rarely pay attention to my keyword density, I find that by maintaining useful and relevant copy while still inserting my target keywords I end up somewhere between 3-5%. The point is to maintain clean and readable copy (no keyword stuffing!) while still using the phrase often enough to appear multiple times throughout the page. Other ways to help your keyword density include getting rid of useless ‘fluff’ copy, as well as maintaining a lighter code structure.

Image Alt Tags, Image Names, and Image & Link Title Tags

SEO for YouTube

While some will argue that the SEO effect of the values in these tags are minimal, my view is that; while probably true, every little bit can help, and none of these tags take that much time to implement. Naming your image and giving it an ALT tag based on the image itself as well as your priority keyword is not only not very time consuming, but it’s also worth noting that Google images and other image search engines look at these values. These searches can also result in visits.

In the instance of the above image, I gave it the file name is seo-youtube.gif and the ALT tag is SEO for YouTube in a post I created a few months ago (SEO for YouTube).

img src="seo-youtube.gif" title="SEO for YouTube" alt="SEO for YouTube"

As for the link itself, here is what it would look like:

a href="" title="SEO for YouTube"


This is one of the more commonly overlooked techniques. Links embedded in your content look more “important” to Google since you are apparently willing risk diverting a user away from your content with a link to another page. You’ll also find this useful as some of your pages develop higher Pagerank because others websites are linking to it. This is a great way to spread the PR wealth.

Find Variations

Make sure you understand the variations of your targeted keyword and either mix them in or create a separate page for them later. You’ll often find that variations are less competitive because your competitors aren’t optimizing for them. And while these variations may not get the same search volume as your chosen keywords, obtaining top rankings for them will probably be far less challenging. A perfect example of this: tonneau covers are also known as truck toppers and truck bed covers. The thesaurus is a great source for obtaining synonyms.

5- Navigation, Sitemaps, Robots.txt

Ensuring that your site structure is clean and well-organized will help ensure search engine spiders are able to easily crawl your content. The more seamlessly they can crawl your content, the more of it they will crawl. Below are a few guidelines to follow.


Make sure your navigation is clean and can easily be crawled. Try and avoid image and JavaScript links. Stick to HTML and avoid flash (if you’re going to use flash for your content and links, make sure you take advantage of SWFObject). When linking to your homepage, link to the absolute URL. For example.


Sitemaps (both HTML and XML)

HTML and XML Sitemaps serve as a great way to let search engines find your content. This is especially helpful if some of your web pages are buried deep within your directory structure and are not linked to from your site’s navigation. The larger your website is, the less realistic manually creating an XML or HTML site map will be. Here are some tools that will automate the process for you.

HTML Sitemap Creator

XML Sitemap Creator
A1 Sitemap Generator
If you have multiple websites (especially if they contain over 500 pages) then I strongly suggest A1 Sitemap Generator.    You can export all manners of sitemaps including HTML, XML, Urlist.txt, etc.


The first thing a SE spider looks for on your homepage is your robots.txt file. This file tells the spider what it can/can’t crawl. So for example, you may have a cgi bin or an admin directory you don’t want the search engine spiders crawling. Not only do you not want them cawling content that may be both private and not beneficial to your SEO efforts, but you want them spending that time crawling content that is beneficial to your SEO efforts.

Creating a Robots.txt file

Comments (14)

  1. Steve says:

    Good like beef noodle!

  2. Good basic stuff here. Laid out in plain English.

  3. Thanks Michael! That’s exactly what I was shooting for!

    Steve, I know the article is decent but I’m not sure it compares to beef noodle!

  4. Kathy Upton says:

    I’m working on a complete redesign of an OLD frame-based site with really BAD html file names that do nothing for their SEO. The new site will be based on a template instead. Can I use the canonical link to redirect old page names in the frame-based site to the new page names in my template-based site? The basic content of the pages will be very similar, but lacking all the frames and javascript navigation from the old pages. Several hundred pages are indexed by google in the old site, many of them not linked with their appropriate navigation frames currently.

  5. admin says:

    Hi Kathy,

    The canonical link rel probably would be your best bet. However, this is mainly good for preserving link equity, and since your old pages are portions of a frameset, I’m curious to know if there are any links pointing to them to begin with.

    I know it’s possible to 301 redirect a group of HTML pages en masse on the server side, but you’d need access to the server to do something like that.

    If you’ll send me the URL, I can provide more insight.

  6. Kathy Upton says:

    It took me a while to get back to this post! Where DID I ask that question!????Thanks for responding. I spent the last week on a detailed analysis of the old site’s file names and am trying to decide what to do with the new names. If I search to find indexed pages, following the first listing on the results, almost every page indexed is a content page without the navigation frames. I just spent the evening researching name conventions. I personally like CamelCase.html file names but I can’t find any opinion on that and SEO compatibility. Using hyphens is the 2nd choice.

    Original site is:
    My new site first page is:
    There are a couple of mocked up pages under the AboutUs link.

    I spent the last week creating a table in Word with columns for “old name/new name/titles/descriptions/keywords” and have the go ahead start creating pages!…after I decide on my naming convention.

    Old page names are such things as “products/pro_all.htm” which should be something like “PresidioCeramicCapacitors.html”. Do you have an opinion on “CamelCase”?

    Also, what’s the best way to move my entire “newsite” folder when it’s ready to move? And I WILL check back to this link tomorrow…and the next day…and the next…

  7. Kathy Upton says:

    still waiting for your response to the above message. I’m thinking now of having some duplicate page content with different names for a while until I stop seeing the old pages coming up as landing pages after the new site is launched.

    After other research, I’m going to use -‘s in the new file names, e.g. “presidio-ceramic-capacitor-products.html” Should I be concerned about the length of the file names at all?

    Do you think that I could tell the hosting company to do a server level action to redirect everything from their default HTML folder to the newsite/ folder when I’m ready to go?

  8. admin says:

    Hi Kathy,

    I’ve actually been on vacation over the last week. I would definitely go with hyphens between your words, and yes, I would avoid going overboard with the length of the filenames.

    As for the server-level redirect. The short answer is yes. However, if some of your pages are ranking or specific keywords, I would try and make sure you are redirecting from old file name to new file name, instead of redirecting every page on your old site to the url of the new site.

  9. Kathy Upton says:

    I did a little research on their landing pages for the old site structure and am thinking of just having 2 versions of some of the pages for a while the new “keyword oriented” name and the old name that google has already indexed. I was planning to use the canonical link in the old files to redirect if they’re “hit”. I don’t have direct access to their server… is the hosting company. I’m currently working on a Word document to keep track of old names, new names, titles, descriptions and keywords before I get myself completely into the new pages.

    What I wasn’t sure of is exactly how to “move” everything from the /newsite/ folder back up one level to the html/ folder….should I just use Dreamweaver and create an oldsite folder, move all into it, then move all the stuff from newsite up a level? Or can I tell the hosting company to redirect into newsite/ folder? It’s just not something I’ve done before.

    On a different topic…Dreamweaver’s template is not writing the new page links correctly for ONLY the Flash files on the new pages I create. I have to have an instance of the 2 Flash files that are in the template located in the images folder AND in the root directory for them to work in newly created pages based on the template. I’ve loaded them into the template from “images”…new pages are looking for them up one level from that. Any ideas?

    Hope you had a nice vacation!

  10. SEO says:

    actually i was really wondering, how many people out there still use static sites? i mean there are so many simple cms or blogs outthere that would allow you to update the site.

  11. admin says:

    There are countless static sites out there. Keep in mind that not everyone is a web guru. There are lots of small business owners who had a simple website created for them a few years back and may not have the budget (or not realize they do) to redesign their site. Also keep in mind that there are dynamic e-commerce sites with static content pages integrated into their overall templates/master pages.

  12. Adrian says:

    I use these advice daily and results are coming fast. Before i used to pay others for this work, but with your help I can do it non my own now. Thank you

  13. I am a wordpress user and these days i am working on static website. WordPress is so easy to use and manage in SEO but in static website its really hard for me. Thanks for your post it might help me out.

  14. Jan Dvorak says:

    Very good and very specific useful post. Thank you.

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