The ranking algorithms of search engines are kept secret and they change often. Moreover, there is no exact formula for perfectly optimized HTML. On the other hand, some HTML tags/elements have great effect on search engine rankings.

The <title> Tag

The title of a page is probably the most important factor in getting high search engine rankings. You must include most important keyword(s) and phrase(s) into the page title. Besides, you must write the title in a way that makes sense because it appears in the clickable link on the search engine results page therefore it must attract people’s attention.

Do not put the name of the site first, unless the name contains the essential keyword phrase. 

Instead of:

<title>Blogging Developer - Search Engine Friendly Pages</title>

form title tags as: 

<title>Engine Friendly Pages - Blogging Developer </title>

More information on forming effective page titles: Who else wants to build effective page titles and rank high in search engines?

The <meta> Tag

A META tag is an HTML tag that provides information about web page’s content, such as what HTML specifications a web page follows or a description of its content. META tags do not affect how a web page is displayed in a browser in other words these tags are mostly invisible to site’s visitors, but will be seen by search engines.

There are only two Meta tags that are important for search engine optimization:

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="tags seo search engine friendly optimization meta title HTML">

<META NAME="DESCRIPTION" CONTENT="The ranking algorithms of search engines are kept secret and they change often. Moreover, there is no exact formula for perfectly optimized HTML. On the other hand, some HTML tags/elements have great effect on search engine rankings”>

In the KEYWORDS meta tag you must enter keywords and phrases relevant to page’s content. Many choose to separate the keyword phrases with commas.

I usually do not use commas to separate keywords and phrases because they take up space. Moreover, forming keywords / phrases without commas makes it possible to include more combinations of keywords.

Some search engines may interpret

  • repeating keywords/phrases
  • entering keywords that are not relevant to the page’s content
as spam.

Except Yahoo and Ask, search engines do not apparently take KEYWORD meta tag into consideration these days.

The DESCRIPTION meta tag is important as search engines use this text for the description given in the search result listings.

This text should be a normal sentence which gives exact information on what the page’s content offers.

Search engines do not display more than 250 characters including spaces, commas, and periods. Therefore you should enter the most important part into the beginning of the description.

More information on meta tags: Metatags from search engine rankings perspective - Are they dead?

The <body> Tag

Some search engines reward keyword repetitions. Therefore, include the selected keyword phrases several times throughout the content.

Here are some tips on forming the page content:

  • Do not overdose repetition. The language must seem natural otherwise search engines may interpret repetition as spam.
  • Using phrase variations may help.(e.g. “search engine ranking” and “search engine rankings”)
  • In addition, include the keyword phrases in the first paragraph.
  • Bold text and larger size fonts may help in some search engines.
  • Do not use hidden texts.

The Headline Tags

Include the keyword phrases in headlines using the standard headline tags (<h1>,<h2>)

The Image ALT Attribute

Image ALT Tags are used to describe pictures to people using non-graphic browsers or that have images turned off in order to gain download speed. Although the alt attribute must include a description of the picture, most developers include logos and image-based titles with alt attribute to include keyword phrases.

<A href="/default.aspx">
   <IMG src="pics/logo.jpg" WIDTH="60" HEIGHT="72" BORDER="0" ALT="Tips & Tricks on Search Engine Optimization">

The TITLE Attribute

Title (do not confuse with the “<TITLE>” tag) attribute lets you describe any tag. The text pops up when someone is moving his or her mouse pointer over the element.

<A href="/default.aspx" TITLE="Tips & Tricks on Search Engine Optimization</A>. 

Keywords in Links and URLs

Including keyword phrases in links not only improves the ranking of the page that contains the link, but also boosts the relevancy of the page the link is pointing to.

<A href="/default.aspx">Click here!</a>

The link above is a wasted opportunity.

Naming files, directories with the keyword phrases may help as some engines take the URL into consideration.

<A href="aspnet/tips-on-aspnet.aspx">Tips on ASP.NET</a>.

Lastly, do not forget that web pages do not exist for search engines, it is easy to overlook the fact that what really matters is good content. If spending time on optimization is taking you away from improving user experience, it may be time to either refocus your efforts or to outsource your optimization work.

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