Ultimate SEO Cheat Sheet
There is a library. The biggest library in all the universe. It has all the information that anyone will ever need. Nearly every single book, on every single topic, ever written is housed in this library and is readily available to anyone who asks for this information.
This library is the internet and it is the job of the search engines to analyze and catalog information from your webpage and present that information to a user. The problem here is that there is a lot of information about any type of topic out there. How will your website be found amidst all the other websites out there?
There are a lot of reasons why a page ranks the way it does. The crawlers, or, in the case of this metaphor, the librarians are tasked with logging and indexing all the books within this library. As a user looks for information, the crawlers go through their library and serve up results based on the users request. In the search engine world, these results are placed on pages known as a SERP or Search Engine Results Pages.
Keeping on with the library analogy, here is an explanation of how the elements of a page can be compared with the books in a library.
Just like it sounds, the header is the top of any and all webpages. In the structural side of the site or the backend , the header contains information that is read by the crawlers. This information is how search engines catalog and organize your page. This is the spine and the first page of the book. Within this spine and first page, the librarians can quickly get a summary of the page and decide if it will be relevant to the user request or query. Within the header, we have elements that must be present.
This is a really short description (only about 160 characters) of the specific page. Every page should have a Meta description
There are certain pages where you would like the librarians to do specific things. In cases like this, you add a directive to those pages. Examples of directives would be asking the crawlers not to follow a link on the page, or not to index the page at all.
This is the name of the specific page within the book.
Analytics Tracking Code
It is recommended to have some sort of analytics tracking, the most popular one being Google Analytics. A webpage loads content from top to bottom. When you have the analytics code placed in your header, it allows the tracking to be triggered as a page is loading.
The URL is the exact location of the book in the library. According to URL guidelines suggested by Google, a URL structure should be simple as possible and organized in a manner that is logical and intelligible to humans.
The body of your site i.e. the content within the <body> HTML tag of a webpage, just like any book is where the meat of your information lies. The librarians, in as much as they love books, are not going to read each and every single book to understand how to catalog it. There are several elements they look at to get a quick overview of what your “book” is about. Some of these elements include:
Images / Alt Text
The librarians can’t read images. While they understand there is an image there, they cannot see it. As you read a book, you can reference the image and gain a further understanding of the context of the page. Unfortunately, the librarians don’t have time to scan every image, so we use alt texts to give a short description of the image. In short, the alt text is a snippet of text that describes an image. It is important because you can still get traffic from an image search because of the alt text on the page. In addition, a person who uses a text to speech software would also be able to understand the image on the page because the text to speech engine would read the alt text.
The content is where you tell your story. A well-written story that is cohesive and structured properly will get the attention of the librarians, and, in turn, will more than likely get recommended. As stated earlier, a librarian is likely not going to read all the books in the library, so they use keywords within the text to organize. This does not mean to stuff keywords within your book – these librarians have a lot of rules they are paying attention to and will send your book lower on the list if you try to manipulate them in that way.
When this happens, it is called a manual penalty. There are a few reasons you can get a penalty. If this happens, there are ways for you to resolve the. Nathan Plaunt, our SEO Strategist put together a guide on how to remove manual penalties.
Keywords are single words or phrases that describe the content of a webpage. When a user enters a query into a search engine, the crawler uses the query as a keyword to serve up results.
The footer is the bottom of the webpage. The end of your book. This is prime real estate for reiterating some of the information that was presented within the body. The crawlers sometimes scan the footer of a page for some information relating to the business.
Name, Address and Phone Number. The crawlers use this information in collaboration with your Local SEO profile. The NAP information is the author bio on the back of your book. People would like to know a little more about you or your local influence. Furthermore, the crawlers use this information for organizing the web. NAP information feeds into something called a Schema Markup.
Schema markup is a piece of code that help the crawlers return more information for the user right on the SERP. A page with the right information properly marked up offers a better experience for the user, especially since that information will be present in the SERP.
Just like the NAP, this is also another resource for users to gauge your sphere of influence.
Just a basic understanding of how search engines work can help give some insight of how your site will get indexed. The results that are presented to users are based on how navigable your site and the content within is. With this information in your toolbox, you are prepared to fix some of the low hanging issues on your page although having an expert take a second look at your site is always advisable.