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SEO Code - An Introduction

In our last article on SEO, we explained how search engines rank web pages based on several criteria. This time we will explain a bit more about how several elements within the page’s code can help with improving its SEO...

Headings

Header tags denote sections of content within the page, similar to a title and headings within a normal document. These headings will make it easier for web crawlers to determine the amount of content available. Such tags need to be used in hierarchical order in order to separate blocks of content. For example:

  • The <h1> tag should be used for a page headline or a basic description of what the page is about, or as a minimum, the name of the website. Crawlers will be on the lookout for these tags most of all. While you can have multiple <h1> tags, it is considered best practice to use only one on each page.
  • The <h2> and <h3> tags should be used as headings and first level subheadings for sections of content within the page. You can use as many of these as you like as long as they are used in order (a <h2> tag should never be used under a <h3> tag).
  • The <h4>, <h5> and <h6> tags should be used for further levels of subheadings within blocks of content. Again, these need to be used in order.

The <title> tag, used in the <head> section of a web page is also important for SEO and will be crawled to generate the title on a search result. Usually the best practice is to identify the primary and secondary keywords in a page and use those alongside the name of your organization. For example, if your page is about Sixth Form policies then your title could be something like:

Policies - Sixth Form | School Name

This keeps the title short (a title length of around 60 characters or less is ideal) and gives the crawler a good idea of what the page is about. However, search engines may choose to use a different title rather than the one set in the <title> tag depending on various factors.

Most content management systems (CMS) will automatically insert header tags depending on the content editing software it uses.

Meta Information 

Although not as important in modern SEO practices, crawlers will still use information stored in <meta> tags to update search results. Crawlers will look for the following:

  •  <meta name="description" content=""> - A meta tag containing a short description about the page. Crawlers will use this to generate the description for a website in search results.
  •  <meta name="keywords" content=""> - A meta tag containing several keywords relating to the content on the page. If the content matches up to these keywords then there is a better chance of your page ranking in the relevant search queries.

The content sections of these tabs shouldn't be too long: a description shouldn't be more than a sentence or two at most, and keywords should be kept to around 5-7.

A CMS will usually include the option of setting meta information on a site wide basis and/or per page.

Other Elements 

An <img> tag denotes the location of an image within a webpage and usually appears something like this:

  • <img src=”image1.jpg” alt=”Image” />

The important bit for SEO is the “alt” part. This denotes a description for the image that appears either when you hover your cursor over it or if the image cannot be loaded for any reason. Alt text can have an impact on the overall SEO of a page so it is important to make sure any images within content have these filled in.

The anchor tag <a> also has a similar section for denoting a description:

  • <a href=”webpage.html” title=”Another webpage”>

Adding a title to an <a> tag is useful for usability reasons (such as screen readers for the blind) but can also help, albeit slightly, with SEO.

Knowing a little about all of these elements is incredibly helpful and will ensure that your website isn’t penalised unnecessarily by the dreaded ‘crawlers’. If you have any questions on this article or would like any more help at all with your school website just get in touch – we’d be more than happy to help.

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