SEO guidelines – search engine optimization
Are you going to redo the website? Share this guide with your webmaster or referral web agency to make sure they know and can apply at least the basics of SEO. It is better to start with an SEO friendly site rather than run for cover afterwards.
The positioning on search engines is a set of activities that are very varied and of increasing complexity the more you want to go into detail.
SEO can be done starting with relatively simple implementations such as improving meta tags and text content, article marketing and link building. Then there are more complex activities, such as optimizing the web server, making page loads lightning-fast, studying the web server logs , optimizing the applications that run on the server, improving the internal link structure … Just to give some examples.
In this guide I would like to summarize, and keep up to date, themost important basic SEO practices to follow when developing a new website.
This document introduces the basic practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and provides elementary guidelines for correct website indexing.
Best practices are described in detail with examples that, if understood and implemented correctly, help search engines quickly crawl and index published content.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization, as the name suggests, is the set of theories, modifications and practices for optimizing websites to maximize visibility in search engines.
The activities presented in this guide, when viewed individually, may seem unimportant, but when combined with other optimizations, they can generate a significant impact on website performance in organic search engine results.
Optimize Meta Tags
Meta tags are meta data included in the HEAD section of the HTML file. These are the first information read by search engine spiders. The purpose of these tags is to provide information on the content of the page, both to search engines and to users, who will in fact see these texts in the search engine results.
Meta tags are used to submit pages to search engine bots. The main meta tags are Title tag and Meta description .
Below you will find the guidelines for a correct compilation of the meta tags.
Optimize the Title Tag
The title tag is an eye catching tag (it must catch the eye) and an invisible tag, in fact it appears in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) of search engines but does not appear in the page viewed by the end user (if not by going to the mouse over the browser tab that contains the page).
The title must be thought of as the label of the article in the unlimited library of the Internet . Write headlines that are clear from the start and very specific, with a focus on high-traffic, low-competition keywords. Web readers are fast, so it is more efficient to create titles that are immediately understandable and absolutely clear.
Don’t try to make the title brilliant by using irony, pun, double entender, or other journalistic approaches that a computer wouldn’t understand (Google ultimately remains a set of machine-calculated algorithms). Do not repeat the words, place the main keyword at the opening of the title, write unique titles for each page, avoid misleading and double-meaning titles. Offline and online have totally different logics, for this reason a very good journalist of the press could do bad jobs to get results online.
When writing a title the most important question you should ask yourself is:
Could the title be written by a reader on a search engine? Does the title answer a question frequently asked online?
All SEO experts agree on this point, in the title of an article it is essential to insert the keywords of the content itself, or better still, the exact phrase that most users type when looking for a certain topic.
- The title must effectively describe the content of the page
- The title includes the main keyword at the beginning
- The title is not a slogan, it must target commercial or commonly used keywords by most users
- It is the first meta tag as a position in HTML and the first tag as an SEO importance
- Maximum length: 65 characters including spaces, or 482 pixels
- Enter the company name at the end of the title, not at the beginning
- Do not enter repeated keywords, use synonyms and variants
- Write unique titles for each page
- Avoid stop-words if possible
- When calculating the length, remember the spaces and the title of the site hanging at the end!
- Titles less than 30 characters
- Titles longer than 55 characters
- Unclear titles
- Duplicate titles on different URLs
- Missing titles
Example for an online tire sales website:
- For large eCommerce it sometimes makes sense to automate the compilation of the title tag, in this example I used the template: brand model size – site name
- Pirelli Cinturato P 7 205 55 R16 91V TL Ecoimpact – Tire finder
The meta description tag appears below the title in search results. Creating a specific and unique meta description tag for each page is always a good idea.
The description metadata is intended to contain a brief description of the page contents. Remember that the words in the snippet are highlighted by Google in bold if they are used in the user’s search, so the advice is to insert words in the meta description tag that the user could type in Google to search for your service or product.
- Better an empty meta description than a duplicate!
- Maximum length 155 characters including spaces, or 920 pixels
- Use the page’s primary keyword at the beginning of the meta description tag
- Use unique and original meta descriptions for each page
- Don’t repeat keywords more than 2 times in the same meta description
- Meta tags less than 70 characters
- Meta tags over 155 characters
- Unclear meta tags
- Duplicate meta tags on different URLs
- Missing meta tags
- SEO Copywriting Guide: How to Write for the Web
The meta keyword tag is the least important in comparison with title and description, but it still plays a strategic role in maximizing the yield of some PPC campaigns . In the landing pages of PPC campaigns it is sometimes useful to include the words purchased with Google Ads in the meta keyword field.
- Write a related list of keywords that fit the page content
- Use unique listings for each page, don’t duplicate
- Enter 5 to 15 keywords per page
- Separate words by commas and spaces.
Meta Robots tags can be used at the single page level to control the indexing of content in search engines.
- index / noindexasks search engines to index (index, implicit directive) or not index (noindex, explicit directive) the page. If you don’t want the page to appear in search results you need to include the noindex tag .
- follow / nofollowasks search engines to follow (follow, implicit directive) or not follow (nofollow, explicit directive) the links on the page. URLs linked from a page tagged nofollow will not be crawled (if they are not followed by other pages).
- noarchivethis tag is used to ask search engines not to save the page in their cached copy.
By default, in the absence of tags that say otherwise, all pages are considered by search engines as “index, follow” (indexable with links that transmit PageRank ). Index and follow are therefore explicit directives, there is no need to declare them.
<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, FOLLOW”>
I recommend implementing the “noindex, follow” tag only on pages that should not appear in search engine results, such as Thank-you Pages, Basket Page, low quality pages, etc …
Generally on WordPress I recommend tagging noindex the following types of pages:
- Tag archives
- Archives by year
- The author archives
- Attachment pages
- The Thank You page