Archive for August 8th, 2011


5 Optimization Targets Most People Miss

Whenever somebody asks an SEO pro to tell them the most important page elements to optimize, they usually get something like “titles, <h1>, alt tags, body text.” Which isn’t wrong. Those are definitely worth paying attention to. When push comes to shove, if you’ve got your titles and <h1>s lined up, you’re doing better than many.

That doesn’t mean you can do those things and forget it though. Not if you want to succeed at search marketing. Today, competition for ecommerce business is hotter than ever. Any business website worth a nickle has done their basic optimization. That means the battle comes down to off-site tactics like backlinks and old-school promotion and maybe—just maybe—gaining any on-page edge you can. And that is where the devil’s details come to the fore.

Here are some page elements that by themselves won’t count for a hell of a lot. But taken together (and combined with all the other stuff you can come up with) they just might be the edge you need to go from Google #10 to #2.

  1. Image file names. Ah, and you thought it was good enough to put in a few alt tags.  Nope. Make sure every useful visual element uses a keyword variant in its file name. (By useful, we mean don’t worry about design graphics like lines, bullets, spacers and the like.) Don’t worry about hyphens—people don’t have to read these, just spiders. So instead of “image-00203032.jpg,” use “disposablerazor10pack.jpg.” This, along with the alt tags, will help Google’s Image Search find your pretty pictures. And at the same time, pump up your page rank.
  2. Image captions. Captions are an awesome way to improve your site’s accessibility. Most text readers look for alt tags when trying to describe an image—that’s what the alt is for, after all—but why not take an extra step and get another opportunity for related keywords? Just don’t make the alt tag and caption the same. Variation is the spice of life.
  3. Folder names. The best time to start your SEO is when you first start designing the website’s architecture. It always pays to think ahead, and here is no exception. If you know the keywords you want to target, you can name all of the folders (and database records) with them. This pays big dividends. It is, however, somewhat difficult to do in a retrofit. Not impossible. Just difficult. If you do try to retrofit your folder naming conventions, be very careful to check for broken links throughout the site when you’re done.
  4. Link title tags. Did you even know you could do these? Lots of folk don’t But you can, you can! Like so: <a href=”; title=”disposal razors cheap”>Disposable Razors R Us</a>. Used on links to important internal pages, title tags can be a reinforcing element when the spider reads your link text. Again, no exact repeats.
  5. Menu heads. When you build a modern CSS pull-down-or-out menu system, you get to use whatever HTML elements you want to identify the menu’s properties. The right and proper way to do lists of links in a menu is the HTML list element, of course. You know, <ul><li></li></ul>. Works great and is easy for spiders to parse. But if your menu system has headers (see image) you can use an <h> tag to define them. <H2> would be a good choice. (Sure, you could define them all as <H1>, but there’s only supposed to be one of those per page.) This tactic gives them a little extra weight when the Googbot comes a’callin. As always, use good keywords.
Menu head illustration

See? The menu head is that one thing up there in a menu that may not even be a link.