Useful HTML for SEO folks
You don’t need to be a coding genius to make good progress with SEO. These days most of the technical stuff happens behind the scenes and we can use a friendly, easy to use content management system to edit websites, put up new content, and even build complex sites from scratch. You can do almost anything without needing to see a single line of HTML.
However, there are some concepts that anyone learning the basics of SEO should become familiar with. They’re not complicated (most HTML isn’t) but they will help you make sure your site is properly optimised.
The first thing to look at is the way headings are marked up. In a page’s HTML code, the headings usually won’t be assigned an individual font, size, color, and alignment. They’ll be tagged as a H1 or H2 heading, and share characteristics with the other headings of that type. It’s worth being aware of which pieces of text are defined as H1 and H2- Google and the other search engines tend to assume H1 headings are important enough to be page titles, and anything marked as a H2 heading will be considered a strong indicator of topic. Placing keywords in H1 and H2 keywords is a must, and it should be done thoughtfully.
Some pieces of HTML don’t affect the way a page looks at all- at least not to you and me. Search engine crawlers reading through the HTML will examine specially defined meta tags. The meta desc tag should contain a brief, single-sentence description of the page content, and relevant target keywords should be noted in the meta keywords tag. Remember that just listing keywords in the meta information isn’t enough- it is sometimes useful and it’s very easy to do, but you need to back the meta tags up by including the keywords in text content too.
The HTML title tag is not quite the same as the meta desc tag. It’s what will show up on top of the browser tab when someone opens the site, and the default label a bookmark will be given. It’ll appear on search engine results pages too, so choose the contents carefully. The title should be informative and selected with target keywords in mind.
There will be certain pages on your own website that it’s better to tell search engine crawlers not to index. Content like terms and conditions rarely contains anything that will help associate your site with a useful keyword or establish relevance to a particular target phrase, and letting crawlers include them only dilutes the content you do want them looking at.
There are several ways to do fence off pages, but the simplest is to use a meta robots tag and specify that you don’t want the content indexed. Note that you only have to do this if don’t want the crawler to use a page- if you do, don’t worry about the meta robots tag. If it’s not there, they’ll index the page.
Links can also be tagged with extra information. The thing you most need to watch out for is called the nofollow tag. Adding one of these tells Google that while you are linking to the target site, you don’t want that link to transfer any authority. When hunting for links, take care that what you’re getting is a dofollow link, not a nofollow. Sometimes it is worth having a nofollow link just for the traffic that might come through it, but it won’t help drive up your search rankings.
Being aware of basic HTML will help your SEO. Even if it’s just a matter of knowing what to ask your web developer, it’s worth understanding a few basics. Of course, there is a lot more to it than the concepts listed in this article and implementing tags does require some knowledge of code, but resources for learning HTML are everywhere. A quick search should find good tutorials on any of the topics discussed here.
Jess Spate is an SEO consultant based in the United Kingdom. She currently represents a number of clients in the travel and leisure industry, including Marriott timeshare points resale consultants and Timeshare Partners, who list Wyndham timeshare for sale.