SEO tips part 1 – On-Page Search Engine Optimization

I started my Web Design career over 12 years ago. Back then, it was a hot topic how to get at the top of the organic search results – deja vu! –.
Many things have changed in the web since then; the techniques, the technology, the players. Oh so different. But at a recent networking event I was very surprised to hear an old story again: “…my SEO guy has an insider in Google giving him Secret tips on how to get me to the top!”… If I only had a dollar for every time I heard that story. 
To help non-technical people avoid this and many other SEO fairytales, I decided to share some current techniques about On-Page/Off-Page SEO techniques, starting with:  
 
10 On-Page Search Engine Optimization tips  
 
On-Page SEO really starts during the design and development of your web site:
  1. Provide brief and clear titles for every one of your web pages, accurately describing the page’s content. Don’t repeat the same title in 2 pages.
  2. Take advantage of the description Meta Tags. Google might use the description Meta Tags as snippets for your pages. Write a ‘descriptive’ message that can inform the user about the topic of your page.
  3. Structure your site to provide readable URLs. This not only helps the search engines but it is user-friendly.
    You can use: www.mysite.com/folders/desc_23.html   (wrong)
    Or you can use: www.mysite.com/services/pressure-washing.html   (right!)
  4. Use meaningful “anchor text” and clearly identify them as links.
    You can use:  click here >   (wrong)
    Or you can use:  Our Tiling Services >   (right!)
  5. Take advantage of Heading tags to provide hierarchy to your content. H1, H2, H3, will tell the search agents what is more important in your page.
  6. Make your images search engine friendly by using the “alt” attribute. Provide a clear, descriptive “alternative” text for the images.
  7. Use text-based navigation, this makes easy for search engines to crawl and understand your site. Try to avoid navigation with Flash or JavaScript since some devices may not handle these properly.
  8. Include a sitemap; an HTML site map listing your pages in categories. An XML version of your site map also helps the search engines to discover your pages.
  9. Providing fresh, on topic and useful content to your audience not only keeps your site interesting, search engines love new, relevant information.
  10. Avoid splash pages. Once popular, splash pages -often with flash animation- were used as a dynamic introduction to a website. Splash pages are now perceived as non-user-friendly. And for SEO, you are literally putting a barrier between the search engines and your main page, where all your relevant, fresh content is; not to mention the links that will serve to crawl the rest of your pages.
Many other tings can be done to improve your chances of a good ranking, but this list gives something to work on and monitor while I post more tips.

As a last note, Google has great information -available to everyone- on Search Engine Optimization and excellent webmaster tools and programs to help with the ongoing task of keeping your site in top shape. SEO information is not top secret… just Google it!

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Also read my article on Off-Page SEO tips.