Search Engine Optimization (SEO) all too frequently is thought to be out of reach of the small website owner. SEO services are often so outrageously expensive or wrapped in mystery and tech-talk that the small business owner or church thinks that they can never have a good presence on the web. In these series of articles, Reuel K. Sample – owner of Act242 Internet Services – outlines some simple and inexpensive methods of getting your site ready for the web.
Part 2: Structure
In the first part of this series, we talked about having good content. Structure of that content is also vital. Content written for human readers always gets good ranking – and human readers require good structure to navigate through the content, and to maximize their understanding of the content's main idea.
First: Use Headline Tags
In the world of print, a headline calls attention to major thoughts, or helps divide the article into logical parts. Proper use of headlines is even more important on the internet as they have an impact on human readability AND ranking.
Although we have no absolute way of knowing, it seems that Google and other search engines weigh the text in headline tags (h1, h2, etc) a bit differently then text throughout the rest of the page. Logically, this approach makes sense. If we think of headlines as summaries of the text to follow, then they should have more weight in the crawling process.
Guidelines for headline tags:
- If at all possible, place your keywords in your headlines.
- Headlines should be no more than five words in total.
- Use headlines to highlight your text, never use headlines AS your text.
- Use the number of the headline (h1, h2, etc) as a rule of thumb as to how often you should use that code on your page.
Second: Have a Good Title
Your article's title is the ultimate headline tag. It sums up what the article is about, calls attention to it, and brings the reader in. In terms of code, it is the ONLY h1 tag on your page – so make it count.
Always have two titles for your article – the one you start with, and the one you ultimately post. The final result of your writing may not always fit the initial name. So – change the title! Nothing is in stone until it gets posted on the web.
- Keyword your title, but never keyword-pack it.
- If your article title does not match your article content, you will get slammed by search engines and readers alike.
- No more than seven words! If it has to go longer, use subtitles.
Third: Use Bullets
Writing for the web is unlike any other writing. I am convinced that users of the web do not read – they scan. Bullets help human readers get the gist of the article which helps them to:
- Stay on the page and read more
- Contact the author for more information
- Give them enough to satisfy and move on
Search engines also seem to like bullet points. Much like heading tags, bullet points help Google and others get to the heart of your page easily and quickly.
When using bullets:
- Decide whether the bullets need to be unordered (dots, squares, etc) or ordered (numbered or lettered)
- If you offer a variety of services, bullet them
- Keywording bullets is fine - just be logical about it
- Bullets can be sentences, but the shorter the better
Content structure will help your reader navigate through your site and maximize understanding. Structure will also allow search engines to more efficiently index your site – resulting in greater search ranking.
Next: Community and SEO