While working for a friend, he expressed his concern over his current sites SEO. The way he phrased it- his online business was doing poorly due to bad SEO. His SEO used to be good, but now it was not- and it needs to be fixed (This is where I come in).
I decided to do a little research on SEO and what exactly is considered best practices and boy did I find a lot of information. The trouble is that it is spread out all over, and some of it is complex and some of it is not. I will attempt to plainly lay out some guidelines for SEO and what to do. I will also put in some notes about Drupal, as I am currently revising SEO on this site.
When I first created my Drupal site, I of course heard of MetaTag module- I mean who hasn’t? This adds SEO fields to every page, node, or path on your Drupal site. When you first look at the module there are a lot of fields- some east to understand others not as easy. Out of the box, it works ok (Or so I thought), and it is certainly better than nothing. It assigns default values to things like your meta description and meta title. The way this turns out is that your about page has a meta description of [Site Title] | [Site Name] or along those lines. I always thought this was fine, until recently when I learned that this was not great, and I needed to be more imaginative in my SEO. I am writing a design walkthrough, so check it out to see more of how to design with Drupal!
Here are some tips for better SEO, easily implemented by any designer:
Use meaningful, longer titles. Instead of your about page having a title of “About”, put together 10 words. Bing recommends around 65 characters, while Google does not have a preference. As a guideline I try to hit around 55-65 characters. PowerMapper says it all.
Use a unique description for each page. I know it’s a drag- I have been copy pasting my description around the site and seldom changing it. Instead, make each description unique, and less than 154 characters including spaces.
Find better keywords. More in this later!
Make sure all images have an alt attribute. If you search for this, you will hear some people say that search engines don’t value this “as much” anymore. It certainly is not going to HURT your rating, so why wouldn’t you try everything?
Make sure all pages are structured well. This means one H1 tag per page. If you use a CMS, remember that when PHP generates your page and includes a banner or logo, this can count for your H1 tag. I was including a H1 tag in my content when Drupal was already generating one for the banner and one for “Node Title”, which was giving me three per page. I changed that habit around so now I only use one H1 per page, one or two H2 per page, and multiple H3 and H4. Don’t use H5 or H6, just use P tag or STRONG tag instead.
Make sure you use current standards. If you’re using a template, make sure it is CSS3, HTML5, and Responsive. If you’re developing on your own, make sure you use appropriate vendor prefixes, etc.
How many keywords is good? What sort of keywords are good? These were questions I found myself asking, so here it is:
According to SEOMark you want a small number of meaningful keywords, which far oughtweighs large amounts of keywords or keyword stuffing. You also should not use only 1 or 2 keywords. My plan for this site is to use 5 main keywords per page and 5 unique keywords per page, with a few more on the top of blog posts.
Keyword quality is also important, and you can get insight on what keywords to use using pen and paper and free tools. First, compose a list of 5 phrases that best describe your site or business. These were the ones I started with:
Small Business Website
Affordable Web Design
Then put 5 subheadings under each of these headings. These subheadings will be your “meaningful or unique” keywords. Log into Google AdWords and go to https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner. Type in each one of your phrases as a keyword idea and search, then sort your results based on Competition, so low is at the top. What we are looking for is low competition words with a high Average Monthly search volume- more than 2,000 searches per month. You want to be selective- if the phrase does not fit your business don’t use it. Also if you see a word that really does fit with low traffic or high competition, you will be fine to use it as well. Stay away from generic keywords such as “web design” and instead go with targeted keywords such as “small business web design”. Another great resource on how to pick keywords was discussed by ZoomMetrix.com here.
My updated list was along the lines of:
Brochure Design virginia
Web Design company virginia
Web design trends
Small Business Website
Web design blog
Affordable Web Design
graphic design portfolio
Web design inspiration
Graphic design inspiration
Web Development Services
Web Design idea
With all of the above in mind, go to each page of your site, and change your meta tags keeping the bullet points in order. Makes for a lot more work, but will immediately increase your search ranking. While my sites ranking is not amazing, I did see a jump in traffic after I changed my SEO practices.
After and during this process, I use a couple of tools to test my code and validate, here they are:
Traffic Travis – This is a SEO tool which shows you validation problems as well as helps with SEO and keyword management. There is a free version, I recommend it.