One must appease the colossal titan that is Google’s search engine.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO is crucial for any commercial website. Google has made their ranking algorithm so it prioritizes user experience more so than other factors. The top factors include the number of visits, if a user stays on the page(bounce rate) and how many pages a user visits on a site. In this article I will cover these topics:

Finding and utilizing keywords

Optimizing a URL

Optimizing homepage title

Utilizing meta tags

Optimizing Images

Website Design and how that affects SEO

How to check your SEO

Finding the right keywords:

It’s important to research keywords relevant to your business / website. Knowing the best keywords can inform you on the best page title and URL naming. Using Spyfu’s keyword research tool makes the process simple and easy. I even used it to find a good title for this blog post:

Try searching your business’s name, its products or anything related to generate a good idea of what the keyword landscape looks like.

Optimizing a URL:

URLs should identify the file structure for a website. Although URLs are a minor factor in search engine ranking, they can give weight to the authority of the domain and can be a good chance to use keywords. Having an easy to read URL can attract users because they know what to expect from the page. Direct website visits are the #1 attribute measured to rank a website in search results. URLs should use keywords yet remain concise and readable.

Non-optimized URL examples:

www.computersrus.com/computersaresuperfun/desktopsrock/laptopsarebetter/mobilephonescreensarehugenow/brandsyoulove.html

The URL above is unnecessarily long & hard to read.

www.computersrus.com/laptops/543-4325/34d/62r/computers.html

The URL above is not human readable.

www.computersrus.com/5/67/mobilephones/desktop/342/32.html

The above URL’s pathing is not logical.

Optimized URL example:

www.computersrus.com/products/computers/laptops.html

This URL above is readable, its pathing makes sense and it includes relevant keywords.

Optimizing a page’s title:

A page’s title is the first thing a user sees in search results. It is also one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine a page’s topic.

A title is in the HTML source code in the <head> section wrapped in the <title> tag. It’s also what the browser’s tab’s title says.

How does a page title improve SEO? Google uses click through rate (CTR) to decide how relevant your page is for search results. If users don’t click your page when it appears on search results, the page’s ranking will deteriorate over time. If users click the page’s link, then the ranking will likely increase.

Page titles will get cut off if they’re over 600px, or about 60 characters. A mobile search will be double lined and the cut-off is extended to 62 characters. Some characters take up more room than others, such a capital ‘M’ compared to ‘l’ or ‘f’. Avoid using caps if you’re trying to squeeze in a long title.

The top link is cut off while the bottom link is short enough to be read.

Much like a page’s URL, a title should be concise and include relevant keywords.

Meta Tags:

Underneath the title tag in the head section, should be meta tags. The description meta tag will be what appears underneath the title in a search and also in link shares.

Instead of using property=“title” use property=“og:title” or “og:description”. ‘og’ stands for Open Graph and allows a link to become a rich object. It’s the difference between a link being just a URL or a link having an image, description and title.

Don’t forget the meta og:image

Optimizing images:

Make sure that the ‘alt’ attribute of an image tag is descriptive and rich in keywords. This will boost SEO by providing a text description for website crawlers (bots that browse websites and index them).

Website Design:

With 65% of web traffic being on mobile, it’s essential to have a responsive website in order to increase traffic. If the website looks poorly designed on mobile, a user will click away immediately increasing something called the bounce rate. A high bounce rate will decrease search ranking. A responsive website will also load faster on mobile compared to a full webpage. Google stated in 2018 that they would begin prioritizing load speed in their search rankings. You can read more about making a responsive website in my blog about CSS basics.

How do I check SEO?

Chrome dev tools has a feature called Lighthouse. This will, among many other things, analyze how optimized your website is for search engines. This tool is very nice to use as it will point to specific problems and resources for learning more about and fixing those problems.

Additional resources:

(notice how all these URLs are optimized)

https://moz.com/learn/seo/url. — URLs

https://yoast.com/page-titles-seo/ — page TITLEs

https://www.spyfu.com/blog/seo-title-tag-optimization/ — page titles

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/webmasters/images/ — images in link shares

https://ogp.me/ — more info about Open Graph

I write about programming and specifically CSS | HTML | JavaScript | Ruby | React.js | Redux.