Skip to main content

Initial Search Engine Optimization

At interon design, search engine optimization (SEO) falls into two categories:

  1. Initial
  2. Advanced

I consider initial SEO as the structure of the site and the inclusion of initial values for structural elements such as:

  • Clean, standards-compliant website design
  • Clear, concise, keyword-rich content written for human visitors
  • Descriptive and unique page titles
  • Descriptive page file names
  • Include description meta tags
  • Image alt tags
  • Link titles
  • Include a Robots.txt file
  • Include a sitemap.html page
  • Include a sitemap.xml file

Structure is an important aspect of a website's search engine ranking. Logical construction, plus the expected values in place make it easier for a search engine to gather information about a site and rank it.

HTML5 has a number of tags to give structure to the site and therefore structural clues to the search engines. In a simplified description, the structure of the site means the <head> tag is at the top, the <body> is in the middle, the <aside> is supporting or secondary content, and the <footer> is at the bottom.

It also means that an image file has an alt tag associated with it to provide a description of the image that the search engine can read. As search engines don't see images. Instead, where a human visitor sees this:

This site contains CSS3, for greater functionality

Search engines see something like this:

<img src="images/CSS3-Logo.gif" alt="This site contains CSS3, for greater functionality" width="50" height="68">

Without that alt description, there is no information scent the search engine can pick up on for indexing. For example, while the image tag below tells the browser there is an image here, and to allot 50 pixels in width and 68 pixels in height to display it, there is nothing additional.

<img src="images/CSS3-Logo.gif" width="50" height="68">

As you might expect from the simplified examples above, much of the initial SEO is in the details. Making sure all images have an alt tag, all pages have a meta description, an <h1> tag, and so on.

There is no point in pursuing SEO any further if your site does not meet the basics. And believe me, there are many sites out there that do not.