Search engine optimization (SEO) is defined as the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results. A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results but as search engine providers are constantly tweaking their indexing algorithm website owners should review the SEO techniques they utilize for their own site.
Key Factors that Improve SEO Ranking
Following are some of the key optimization parameters that the author believes will contribute to the improved SEO Ranking:
- Have unique page titles for each of the pages, and ensure this by having tag be placed within the tag of the HTML document - Result: Page title content are displayed in Search result
- Make use of the Meta Description, Key words tags - Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query. Adding description Meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet for your pages in the search result
- URL Structure / Simple-to-understand URLS (Friendly URLs) - This will lead to better crawling of the pages by search engines
- Provide a HTML sitemap for the site, XML sitemap for search engine - See Sitemaps.org for specifications XML sitemaps. Most CMSs also now provide these feature in their software or through a module/plugin/extension.
- Bounce Rate - If Google sees that nobody hangs out for more than few seconds in your site, this will impact SEO ranking over a period of time.
- Outbound Links - Make sure the websites that you link are 100% relevant to your business & industry. If it is not relevant over a period of time, it will impact the SEO rankings.
- Great Content - One of the other most important influencing factor more than all of the above is to ensure that site has compelling and useful content
If you are lost on how best to provide and maintain these SEO techniques for your site, most of the above activities can be done by SEO agencies that are in the business of reviewing your site and providing you with the right content, search keywords and Friendly URLs. Also, some of the CMS products have SEO-Checklist add-ons in-place to ensure that page title, Meta-description, keywords attributes are tagged based on the content, and also in some cases they also provide statistics like which search engines/bots have crawled the site/pages.
Beyond the 7 Key Factors of SEO Ranking
One of the frustrating aspects of SEO is that you sometimes need to "get into the weeds" and explore optimizing your site beyond the the basic SEO checklists. There are some of site architecture and technical implementation factors that might influence or impact SEO optimization. For example you'll also want to consider and evaluate:
- Page size
- Page load time
There is some debate of whether the length of the page itself is a factor for SEO (short form vs long form), but the smaller the file size of the page and the shorter the page load time the better your site may be in the rankings.
If you want to get even deeper into SEO then take a look at the code behind the pages produced for your site. For example, there are various discussions and points of view regarding the use of DIV vs. TABLE tags to build the HTML pages, and their effect on SEO. Some says usage of TABLE badly effect SEO while some say it does not have any major effect on SEO ranking.
In summary what we can conclude from these discussions are:
- Search engines really do no care about the HTML code (as long as syntax is correct), and check whether pages have been developed using DIV vs. TABLE
- Use what is convenient to you, obviously for tabular data representation TABLE is more preferred option and DIV provide more easy control over the layout design
- There is one caveat for using TABLE: Nested tables do result in increase of the page size and in turn result in increase of page load time, which might affect the SEO ranking
Couple of years back Google announced PageSpeed as one of the factors for ranking in Google search. PageSpeed is an open-source project started at Google to help developers optimize their web pages by applying web performance best practices.
Internally we have been using this tool extensively along with YSlow to monitor the page load and optimize the page size and load time. A few things we have started doing to optimize the page size other than DIV or TABLE are:
- Combine multiple CSS and JS files to one
- Minify CSS and JS files
- Enable GZIP compression on CSS and JS files
Optimizing your site for better search engine rankings can be as simple as following the seven key factors we provided in this article. However, as we've discussed in this article there is room for discussion and improvement of what factors you consider important for improving your SEO rankings. Below are some additional sources of the useful information the author has found regarding SEO Ranking:
Search Engine Land: The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors
SEO Design Solutions: 8 SEO Ranking Factors