Mastering Your SEO
Search engine optimization may be recognized by everyone as a necessary
tactic in driving online search traffic, yet as publishers develop
their Web sites they often dismiss SEO in favor of speed-to-market.
Diane Burley, executive editor of an online-only "prosumer" magazine
for the design market called Purecontemporary.com, offers tips on
editorial-based, and very search-engine friendly, SEO strategies.
Don't Automate Your Title Tag Creation
Title tags, the 200 or so characters that appear in the browser window
above the URL locator, are the most important aspect of search engine
optimization, says Burley. Don't waste them by relying on a
less-than-descriptive automated approach. Manually insert title tags
that describe, with words as germane as possible and without articles
and determiners, the content they represent. "When you automate a title
tag, it's missing the editorial eye as to what would be the most
germane points to the reader," says Burley. For example, an automated
tag might name this article Folio: IdeaExchange. If someone is
searching for IdeaExchange, this page might come up, but not if they
were searching for SEO tips specifically.
Alter title tag keyword formats, too. "Plural versus singular gets a
huge difference in results," says Burley. "And the diminutive of a word
is not found. 'Read, reader, reads' are three different words in
Google's lexicon, it's not viewed as extending the same word. So we
have contemporary kitchen, contemporary kitchens, contemporary bath,
contemporary bathrooms. We will vary it on each page."
Do Make Sure Your Content Gets Indexed
If your pages aren't indexed you will not be found in a search engine
query. To see how Google is indexing your site, if at all, type
site:yourdomain.com into Google's search field. The results that follow
will reveal how many pages are actually indexed.
Use Pure Cascading Style Sheets
Each Web page is made of code and content, says Burley. Search engine
spiders only crawl so far down a page so optimize what they crawl by
getting that code out of the way with cascading style sheets (CSS).
"The code on the page is telling you all your formatting commands, so
you're eliminating all the formatting commands and directing the
spiders to the most important part of the page to be crawled," she adds.
Don't Write for Keywords
"Writing for keywords is a waste of time," says Burley, referring to
the practice of either seeding content on the site with keywords or
altering editorial in a fashion purely for search purposes. "Write for
readers. If you have an abundance of strong content that is indexed by
search engines with compelling title tags, people are going to flock.
In our case, more than half of our visitors come from search engines
and less than .05 percent of the queries are duplicated."
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