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SEO Basics Course. Module 7
Basic Code Optimization for Keywords
OK lets recap!
In Module 1 we looked at SEO Scams and Cons so you can avoid the companies that could cause your website considerable harm.
Module 2 covered personalized search so you don't make the very common mistake made by many website owners and think you have good rankings when you don't!
In Module 3 we saw how Search Engines go about deciding who should be in their Search Results Pages and in what order they should rank.
Module 4 was all about how you can decide what you want to rank for in the SERPs so you don't waste your time trying to compete with much larger players or ranking for phrases no one searches!
Module 5 outlined how we can help search engines understand the basic structure of our website.
In Module 6 we went through how to check if the key elements of a web page are optimized.
So our page on types of wood looks pretty good for humans but has it been coded correctly for the search engine bots ...
To find out we're going to need to go under the bonnet and look at the code but don't worry, you won't need any technical expertise or programming knowledge to do this.
The following step by step guide on how to see website code is for Chrome or Firefox users. Safari and Internet Explorer users should check the text of this module for their 'how to' methods
To get to the code open any page on your site. We'll use the types of wood page from our sample carpentry website at howtobeacarpenter.com. Find a blank space on the page like the area highlighted here, right hand click and then from the menu that pops up left hand click on 'View Page Source'
Do that and ... oh my word ...
Don't worry if what you find looks overwhelming - we just need to find a few elements and we'll see how you can track these down easily in a moment.
The h1 tag
Our first check is what is known as the h1 tag. This tells search engines what the title of your page is. Remember in our example the title we are showing visitors is Types of Wood. We need to check if we are telling search engines the same thing.
With your code open Press Ctrl+F at the same time. You'll see a small search box appear, usually in the bottom left or the top right of the screen. Type in here '
You will be taken straight to the first h1 tag in the code which should look something like this:
<h1>Types of wood</h1>
It might look slightly different like this. <h1 class="post">. That's fine.
So long as we have opening and closing h1 tags and they contain the page title, in this example Types of Wood, we are good.
No h1 tag? You are not telling the search engine bots what your page is about! That's not search engine friendly.
Now go back to your code and have a closer look at the search box. It should also show you how many times it found the h1 tag. In this example using Chrome it says the h1 tag it found was 1 of 1.
Got more than one h1 tag? This can confuse search engine bots, especially if your first h1 tag does not match the visible title on your page. Its best avoided.
The title tag
The next tag we need to look for is the title tag.
This isn't that visible or obvious to your visitors but it is sometimes used if people bookmark your page or share your content on social media. Search engines often use it in their search results pages so its vital to get it right.
It should be close to, or identical to, your h1 tag. in other words the visible title of your page.
So back to your code but this time search <title . You should find your visible title is displayed like this
<title>Types of wood</title>.
Again it might be slightly different like <title>Types of wood - How to be a Carpenter</title>. That's OK - as long as your h1 tag and your title tags are very similar we are good.
If your title tag is missing you're really not helping search engines understand your content.
If you have more than one, this is the same issue as with multiple h1 tags, you are sending different messages.
If the title tag contains something completely different to the h1 tag you are sending conflicting messages.
Now it probably hasn't escaped you that there are three elements which should all be the same or very similar. The url, the title tag and the h1 tag. In our example website they are just that.
These are three important factors which search engines look at and they should all confirm, not contradict, each other just as they do on our types of wood page.
From our SEO work point of view they should also all contain the keyword phrase we want to optimize this page for.
Now lets return to the h1 tag for a moment.
h1 to 99
h1 means the first and most important title on the page but just like a chapter in a book a web page can have subtitles as well to break up long content.
The more content you have on your page, the more subheadings you should use so search engine bots understand the structure of your content and can rank you correctly.
Lets go back to our page about Types of Wood. In the text content we've added a subtitle, 'Ash'.
To tell search engine bots that this is a sub heading of <h1> it should appear in the code like this:
h2 because it is a subheading of h1
This section of text might have further subdivisions such as cutting ash and sanding ash. As subtitles of the h2 title Ash they should be marked <h3> in the code.
We might then want to begin a new subtitle of the page itself, perhaps to talk about Oak so we revert to h2. It too could have its own subsections as well
These h tags help search engine bots see how your page is organized and what words (the contents of the heading tags) are important so use them well. Avoid generic terms like 'Part 1' or 'Section A', think about your chosen keywords or words related to your chosen keywords.
You'll also want to make sure your h tags are in the right order. Its surprising how often they can be found all mixed up, this is like throwing spaghetti at a search engine!
But how can you check all your h tags are there and in the right order in such a huge sea of code?
Start by doing a search for <h2 and write down all the line numbers they occur on. You can do this on a spreadsheet or just use some slips of paper like this.
On our sample page Types of Wood the list would come together something like this. The first h2 tag occurred on line 93 of the code, the second h2 tag occurred on line 105.
Now repeat this for <h3, <h4 and so on up to h6. The list from our sample page would look like this.
Next re-arrange what you have with the line numbers descending to give you a list like this. In our example we can see everything is in order so we can move on.
A lot of content but no h tags? You're not helping search engine bots understand the structure of your content.
H tags in the wrong order? You're scrambling up the structure of your content, making it difficult for search engine bots to understand!
The Meta Description Tag
Our final search is for the meta description. Search engines ignore these when it comes to rankings but they sometimes use them in the search results so every page should have one ... and it should be attractive so people who see it in the SERPs are motivated to click through and visit your site.
Its also sometimes the automatic text which gets used if your content is shared on social media so yet another vital reason to have it ... and for it to be sexy.
But not just sexy, it should also be short and to the point. About 190 characters and remember to ensure it contains one or two of the keyword phrases you are trying to rank the page for.
So back to your code and this time do a search for
Not there? You're missing a golden opportunity to sell your content to people
Multiple meta descriptions? You're confusing the search engine bots with multiple summaries
Our trip into the code wasn't that bad after all and you now know how to take it apart for search engine optimization purposes.
Its not the end of code work when it comes to SEO but you now have the fundamentals.
You know how to make an individual page sparkle to search engine bots, both visually and in code terms. So its time to know how to connect all these pages together for maximum effect. That's in the next module!
Has this video highlighted issues with your SEO work or with a website you are working on but you don't know how to resolve them?
There are simply too many ways a website can be built for us to offer a comprehensive how to part to these tutorials however we would recommend the following steps.
Google it! If you know what platform your website is built on (say XCart or Wordpress) just try googling what you need. For example "How to make WordPress urls SEO friendly" to find out how you can make changes to the urls of your WordPress based site.
You'll be surprised how often issues have already been resolved by others and sometimes they have even created plugins so you can make the changes you need to without needing any technical skills.
If this doesn't resolve your issue you probably will need the help of a programmer. In this case see the 'Need Help' link below this video or in the module text for options.
That was module seven, basic code optimization for keyword. Next up Module eight, linking your site's pages together ,and, as they always say at the end of these videos, if you like what you saw, remember to subscribe.