HTML codes & Search Engine Rankings
How do you identify a soldier? By looking at his dog tags. How do search engines identify a website? By looking at their HTML codes, and only through this process of identification will your website rank higher.
Sorry to say, if your website hasn’t got proper HTML codes, you are in a lot of trouble. If you didn’t think this was important, ask yourself again 6 months later when your website is still stuck at the bottom of the search pile.
From specific HTML elements, search engines are able to pick up signals about a website. Here are some HTML tags you should pay special attention to:
- HTML Title Tag
- Meta Description Tag
- Header Tag
HTML Title Tag
This is quite possibly one of the most important HTML codes you should look at. It is, after all, defining the title of your page.
A HTML title tag looks like this:
<HEAD> <TITLE> Title of your website </TITLE> </HEAD>
Here’s a question: when you searching on Google, do you just click on whatever the search results throw at you? Well, personally I don’t. I still look at the title of the website and if it is relevant to what I am searching for, then I will be more likely to click on it, even if that website is #2 or #3 on the SERP.
To put this in perspective, if I am searching for dog food recipes and Google shows these two results with the following titles on the results page:
#1 “How healthy dog food recipes can improve your dog’s health
#2 “Easy and cheap dog food recipes you can prepare in 5 minutes”
Which one would I be more likely to click on? Of course the second result. I was really searching for dog food recipes so I can cook for my dog. I was not looking for the benefits of healthy dog food.
How to write a HTML title tag
Give a thought to what you want each page to be found for. This is crucial when you are depending on your data from keyword research. Pick a keyword and then write a unique, captivating and evocative title for each and every one of your pages. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Describe precisely the content of the page: When writing the title, think about the content at hand. Write a title that describes this content. If your page contains 10 dog food recipes, put on the title “Ten Dog Food Recipes”, instead of “Benefits of Healthy Dog Food Recipes”. Try and come up with an interesting title so to grab the attention of searchers.
- Be concise with your titles: If your title is too long, Google only shows a portion of it. The rest will be truncated. Keep your titles short and concise. Describe accurately what your page is about whilst keeping it short. Here is an example of a title that is too long:
Notice how the titles in the two pages above are cut off because they are too long.
- Be unique with your titles: Every page should have unique titles to go with it. This lets Google know that your pages are different from each other.
- Do not keyword stuff: Don’t stuff unnecessary keywords into your title. This will just make you look like a douche.
Should you include your site name in the title?
Different people will argue differently about putting your site name in your title. Even the ESPN and New York Times follow this format:
Headline – Name of Site
While this has been working very well for them, there is no need to include the name of your site. When they come into your page, your page would already show your logo and site name. There is no need to reiterate this over and over again on every page. Very often, your headline would already be so long such that the name of site at the end of the headline will just get truncated, totally defeating the purpose.
Stuffing Keywords like Stuffing a Turkey
It is common knowledge that including keywords in the title helps with SEO, but don’t overdo it. People will look at it and think less of you.
Look at MSNBC as an example:
Well, is it really necessary to include terms like Breaking News, Science and Tech news etcetera? Who are they trying to please? Google? Do they really think that by stuffing all those terms into their title, they’d be more likely to rank for every single one of them?
This is a lesson; instead of stuffing all these unnecessary keywords, why not focus on one or two that describes your page best? Instead of “breaking news”, you should be telling people why they should go to you for breaking news.
HTML Meta Tags
The Meta description tag is basically a description of your website. It allows you to describe your page like how you would like pages to be described in search results. If you are on position #2 in the SERP but your description is relevant enough, people might just click on your page instead.
This is how a meta description tag looks like:
<META NAME=”Description of Page” CONTENT=”Insert an informative description here”>
A lot of people disagree that meta description tag actually helps with SEO. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily help with getting your pages to the top of the SERP. Well, yes and no.
Some of the commercial search engines make of the use the meta tag content to check if the page is relevant or not, however some don’t. Many times, meta-tag descriptions and keywords do not determine your page ranking. Search engines have evolved and started using on page and off page optimization to determine ranking.
On Google Webmaster Central Blog, it is mentioned that an accurate meta description will not help you rank higher on the search results but it helps with click through rates. It is even stated that Google wants meta descriptions to correctly represent search results. When meta descriptions are available, Google will display it as it gives searchers a good idea of the content on the page. It is also worthy to note that meta descriptions that are made up of a lot of keywords are not preferred and will be less likely to show.
Consider the fact that user engagement is a huge factor when it comes to ranking on the search engines. Search engines check to see if your page actually attracts visitors and a good description can help with that tremendously. Your meta tag description should accomplish the following:
- Encourage searchers to click on your page
- Strengthen the content on your page
Headers play a big part in copy writing but they also tell search engines what your page is about. When the keywords you want to be found for are present in your header tags, you might get a slight increase in chance of your SERP bumping up.
Headers and subheadings that follow it are important to improve user experience. Besides helping search engines, they also help readers get a gist of what the content on your page is about before they actually read it.
While it is true that header tags do help with increasing your SERP, some people went crazy. They will actually type an entire paragraph in their header tags. This makes no sense.
Header tags are important to give your page a structure. A main headline would make sense using a H1 tag. Subheadings would go would go better with H2 tags. In terms of SEO, header tags is like a ranking system for the importance of content in your website with H1 being the most important, followed by H2, H3 and so on.
You would be shocked to know that a lot people actually neglect these areas of on page optimization. Their title tag, meta description and header tags were simply put together and then they start wondering why their website is converting so poorly. Take some time out of your busy schedule and sort this area out, who knows this might just help you rank better.