Due 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 1 – Choose 2-3 priority keywords
- 2 2 – Name/Rename your file name accordingly
- 3 3 – Meta/Title Tags
- 4 4 – Body Copy
- 5 5- Navigation, Sitemaps, Robots.txt
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
- Keyword Density Checker
- Matt Cutts: SEO Tips for Bloggers – Place keywords early on page
- Optimize On Page SEO Text & Design with CSS
Image Alt Tags, Image Names, and Image & Link Title Tags
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="http://www.seoracle.com/...." 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.
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.
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.
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