The SEO Crash Course: Step Two
STEP Two: During Development
Part 1: Keep your SEO goals in mind.
Search engines love content. So be sure to keep the SEO mindset throughout all phases of development. When you are devising ways to deliver content, make sure it adheres to the styling and layout instructions provided in STEP One.
Part 2: Title Tags
Title Tags are one of the quintessential elements of SEO as it is the first thing that search engines see when loading your page, and it is the first thing people see in search engine results. The Title Tag should be descriptive and to the point -- for example, if your company name is "Joe's Shrimp Shack," and it is located in Point Place, Wisconsin, then you should obviously include those items in your title. Another thing of note is that the title is weighted by "most important" first, meaning, whatever is most important -- you will want to be first (eg. Joe's Shrimp Shack - Point Place, Wisconsin). This is just like the order of importance within each page's content, as mentioned in STEP One.
One last thing about the Title Tag. -- A good practice to follow is preceding your company name and location with a few keywords that quickly describe that page's content. (eg. Shrimp, Lobster, King Crab, All-You-Can-Eat, Family-Style Restaurant | Joe's Shrimp Shack - Point Place, WI). The suggested minimum and maximum character values are between 10 and 80. Anything outside of that range will be penalized by search engines.
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Part 3: Meta Tags
Mmm...Meta Tags. Delicious. These are where most people make mistakes, and they are the most misunderstood and misused factors of SEO I will now go over the correct application of these tags.
There are a few main meta tags of importance: description, keywords, and robots. Examples of other commonly-used tags, such as author, copyright, or date; don't actually add any SEO value -- they are typically added for internal use. Technically, you could define a Meta Tag to be anything you want -- as long as it follows the standard setup.
<meta name="any-name-here" content="any-content-here">
So, the three Meta Tags we will focus on are description, keywords, and robots. *You should ALWAYS include these in EVERY page.
The Description Meta Tag should contain the "blurb" of information that you want to displayed below the title in search engine results. So naturally, you want it to be descriptive, concise, and to the point. The suggested minimum and maximum character values are between 20 and 200. Anything outside of that range will be penalized by search engines.
<meta name="description" content="some-description-here">
The Keywords Meta Tag should contain words that are found to be the most important, and are generally found more than once in the document. A good way to figure out what should be included in this tag is to use a keyword density checker/analyzer such as: http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/keyword-density/. The suggested minimum and maximum character values are between 20 and 200. Anything outside of that range will be penalized by search engines. Additionally, make sure that words like a, an, and, the -- are not used.
<meta name="keywords" content="some, key, words">
The Robots Meta Tag is one that has been overlooked in the past, but it is actually rather important, as it tells the visiting search engine bot whether or not it should index the page and also if it should follow the links on the page for indexing as well. While this has been rendered somewhat obsolete with the development and standardization of robots.txt, it is still considered "proper" to include this tag. Common values for the Robots Meta Tag are the following: index, follow, noindex, nofollow, noarchive. There are a few others.
<meta name="robots" content="index,follow">
A great tool to use is -- something like this: http://www.submitexpress.com/analyzer/. I believe you will find it very helpful when trying to pin down all of the appropriate values, and I also suggest to strive for 100% on everything.
THE FINAL, MOST IMPORTANT THING: Make sure that your title, keywords, and description ALL match whatever content is being served on that page -- perfectly.
Up next: Robots.txt, Sitemap.xml, and a few final important tag attributes.