Search Engine Optimization: A Hitchhiker's Guide

Index your content

An example would be or Google cache feature, that allows us to see a webpage the way search engines do. That means that we can actually see what elements of our content is visible and indexable to the engines. To perform better in search engine listings the top important site's content should be in HTML format. Images, Flash files, Java applets as well as other non-text content can be often ignored by some crawlers. It's good to double-check double-check that the pages you're creating are visible to the engines, by suing SEo tools. The same should apply to images, and links as well.

Search engines have to see content in order to index pages, but they also need to see links so they can find the content in the first place. A crawlable link, one that allows crawlers to browse the roadmap of a website and it is vital for crawlers to find every page on a website. Great content, good keyword targeting, and smart marketing won't make any difference if the crawlers can't reach your pages!

Crawlable Links

<a href=""> link description</a>

In the above example the "<a" tag indicates the start of a link. The link referral location href tells the browser where the link points. In this example, the URL is referenced. Next, the visible portion of the link for visitors, called anchor text, describes that page that the aforementioned URL points to. Finally we have the closing </a> tag.

This is the more basic format of a link, and it is clearly understandable to search engines. Crawlers aknowledge that they should add this link to the engine's link graph of the web, use it to calculate query-independent variables (like Google's PageRank), and follow it to index the contents of the referenced page. Some common reasons why search engines might not crawl some pages are:

1) submission-required forms that search engines will not attempt to submit
2) search boxes and forms that search engines won't use
3) links in unparseable Javascript, Flash, Java or other plugins
4) links pointing to pages blocked by the Meta Robots tag or robots.txt that developers use to prevent rogue bots but unintentionally also prevent the search engines to perform their crawl and links inside the frames and iframe tags which present structural issues.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Wikipedia section</a>

Links can have a variety of attributes. The engines ignore nearly all of them, with the important exception of the rel="nofollow" attribute. In the example above, adding the rel="nofollow" tells search engines not to interpret this link as normal, that is not to crawl that specific link. The nofollow links aren't always bad and some times can interpreted as a sign of trust to the website.


Keywords are fundamental for the search process. They are the fundamental bits of language and therefore search. In fact, Information Retrieval is based on keywords. As the engines crawl and index the contents of pages around the web, they keep track of those pages in keyword-based indexes. Search engines measure how keywords are used on pages to help determine the relevance of a particular document to a query. One of the best ways to optimize a page's rank is to make sure that the keywords that are important to you and your brand are explicitly used in titles, text and metadata.

Recommended practice for keywords goes as follows. Use the keyword phrase:

1) In the title tag atleast once. Try to keep that phrase as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible
2) Once in a very noticable way near the top of the page
3) At least two or three times, including variations, in the body copy on the page
4) At least once in the alt attribute of an image on the page. This not only helps with web search, but also image search, which can occasionally bring valuable traffic
5) Once in the URL. Additional rules for URLs and keywords are discussed later on in this section
6) At least once in the meta description tag. Note that the meta description tag does not get used by the engines for rankings, but rather helps to attract clicks by searchers reading the results page, as the meta description becomes the snippet of text used by the search engines

Title tags

The title element of a page is meant to be an accurate, precise description of a page's content. It is critical to both to user experience and search engine optimization.


1) Length: Search engines display only the first 65-75 characters of a title tag in the search results (after that we get - "..." – to indicate when a title has been cut off). This happens to be the general limit allowed by most social media, so it would be wise to respect that number. However, depending on the keywords targeted sometimes it may be advisable to go longer..
2) Place important keywords close to the front
3) Include brand names at the beginning of a title tag, such as your home page. Since words at the beginning of the title tag carry more weight be carefull.
4) Title tags should be descriptive and readable. The title tag is a visitor's first interaction with your site, hence it should leave the most positive impression possible.

Meta tags

The Meta Robots tag
The Meta Robots tag can be used to control the activity of a crawler, on a per-page basis. There are several ways to use Meta Robots in order to control how search engines treat a page:

index/noindex tells the engines whether the page should be crawled and kept in the engines' index for retrieval. If you opt to use "noindex," the page will be excluded from the index. By default, search engines assume they can index all pages, so using the "index" value is generally unnecessary
follow/nofollow tells the engines whether links on the page should be crawled. If you elect to employ "nofollow," the engines will disregard the links on the page for discovery, ranking purposes, or both. By default, all pages are assumed to have the "follow" attribute. Example: <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">
noarchive is used to restrict search engines from saving a cached copy of the page. By default, the engines will maintain visible copies of all pages they have indexed, accessible to searchers through the cached link in the search results
nosnippet informs the engines that they should refrain from displaying a descriptive block of text next to the page's title and URL in the search results
noodp/noydir are specialized tags telling the engines not to grab a descriptive snippet about a page from the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) or the Yahoo! Directory for display in the search results

The X-Robots-Tag HTTP header directive also accomplishes these same objectives. This technique works especially well for content within non-HTML files, like images. More information on Google Console Webmasters.

Meta Description

The meta description tag exists as a rather narrow description of a page's content. Search engines do not use any information inside this tag for rankings, but these descriptions are used to create the text-snippet displayed beneath every query result. Meta keywords are not as important as meta tags ( read: Meta Keywords Tag 101 from SearchEngineLand).
Meta Refresh, Meta Revisit-after, Meta Content-type, and others: Although these tags can have uses for search engine optimization, they are less critical to the process, and so we'll leave it to Google's Webmaster Tools Help to review in greater detail.

URL structures

URL's are displayed in the results of query and they can impact click-through and visibility. URLs are also used in ranking documents, and those pages whose names include the queried search terms receive some benefit from proper, descriptive use of keywords. Example:

Recommendations for link construction:

1) Place your self in the mind of the user. Does the URL give a good description of the page's content?
2) Short url's are in general better in terms of re-usability and they will be full visible in search results
3) Go static: The best URLs are human-readable and without lots of parameters, numbers, and symbols
4) Use hyphens for word separation because not all web applications can accurately interpret characters like underscores (_), plus signs (+), or spaces (%20), so instead use the (-) character.

SEO Tools

Google Search console
Bing WebMaster tools

Sitemap generators
xml sitemaps com
Screaming frog SEO Spider Manual and user guide

Social Media
FollowerWonk (by Moz)

Search engines Plugins
Moz bar (Chrome)
BuiltWith (Chrome)
Dev tools (Chrome)

Google Adwords
Google Trends
Keyword explorer (Moz)

Link building
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer
Moz Local

Other tools
Fetch as google
Google Analytics
Usability and User Experience - Analytics&Feedback

Read an interesting article about social media and seo, Moz the begginers guide to SEO and ofcourse the search engine optimization starter guide.

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