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Month: March 2010

Make all URLs lowercase

We have had lots of problems on our site the trying to get the Google Analytics overlay to work. This was mainly because we had different case urls all over the place and Google’s view of a URL is case-sensitive.

Reading the Google Starter Guide they highlight the importance of one URL to reach a document and mention to avoid odd capitalization of urls

Avoid – using odd capitalization of URLs (many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better) Page 9

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H1..Hx Should we use them?

Make sure you have an H1 tag on every page of your site. On the home page it should probably be the SiteName/Brand name but for the rest of the site make appropriate to the page. I try to think of a site like a book. You only have the book name as a title once. After that the title will most likely be the chapter (Category) you are reading. And make sure you only have 1 H1 tag per page.

“Heading tags (not to be confused with the HTML tag or HTTP headers) are used to present structure on the page to users. There are six sizes of heading tags, beginning with h1, the most important, and ending with
h6, the least important.” Page 13.

Its also important to use your H2 tags to put more context on the page, but do not over use them.

Google uses the example of a news story where the H1 tag is used for the name of the site and the H2 tag is used for the topic of the story.

In an eCommerce site, for example a landing page, the H1 tag could be used for the Title of the Landing Page and the H2 tag could be used for the subsections of the page e.g New Releases, Best Sellers etc.

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Page Title Length & SEO

“Most major search engines display approximately 60 characters from a page’s title in the title of a search result” Page 4.

This leads me to two thoughts.

1. We should make our titles less than 60 character so that they look good in search results.

2. Only the Home page needs to have the Brand/Sitename as the beginning of the title. All other pages should have the Targeted keywords for that page at the beginning and the Brand/Site name at the end.

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Description meta tag use & SEO

I have been reading Google’s SEO report card and I realised that when most people talk about SEO they talk about rankings on the page. What we forget is that click through is just as important than position. Description Meta tags do not count in Google’s rank but:

“Including an informative description meta tag on your pages can influence the quality of the snippets shown in search results.” Page 8

We also need to keep in mind that Google will highlight the search term in the text (“Keyword highlighting”) when it displays the snippet. This keyword highlighting helps a user select a search result.

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Make the Home Page the most important page

Google says:

“Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”

Sometimes we forget this. In an attempt to make our sites look really nice a lot of attention goes into creating homepages with loads of images. The site I am currently working has a homepage made up predominately of images for campaigns that they are currently running. As a result there is very little content for Google to index. Plus what content there is is campaign focused, thus it changes all the time.

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Use image ALT & TITLE tags

The site that I am currently working on has a large number of product images. None of these had either ALT or TITLE tags. From the Google webmaster blog i found this excerpt:

“Some of you have asked about the difference between the “alt” and “title” attributes. According to the W3C recommendations, the “alt” attribute specifies an alternate text for user agents that cannot display images, forms or applets. The “title” attribute is a bit different: it “offers advisory information about the element for which it is set.” As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the “alt” attribute. Feel free to supplement the “alt” attribute with “title” and other attributes if they provide value to your users!”

I had not thought about about the difference between ALT & TITLE tags, but when its put like that it kind of makes sense.

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Prevent Google from indexing your search results pages

Matt Cuts has blogged that we should be preventing Google from indexing our search results pages.

“Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.”

Although you may use the Robots file to prevent Google from indexing your search results pages they may still get indexed via inbound links.

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