In our previous article about SEO we discussed the basic SEO steps to follow during the initial web development. Advanced SEO techniques are also applied to the code and performed in accordance with an SEO strategy. A strategy is developed by an SEO specialist who performs keyword analysis to find a few most relevant keywords that describe a website or a web page. Web developers then use these keywords to perform advanced SEO techniques.
1. Alt tags. Alt attributes are a way to describe images to search spiders simply because search spiders cannot see them. It is not only an opportunity to add more content (with keywords) to your site, but it also helps your images to be searchable on Google. For best results, all images should also have distinct filenames.
Alt tags were originally designed to be displayed as an alternative text to an image in cases when an image cannot be displayed in a browser. Also, alt tags are displayed when users rest their mouse on the image.
2. Title tags. A title tag describes an online document and has the most SEO power for establishing keyword relevance on the page. Title tag appears at the very top of a browser or tab window, in search result pages, and external websites.
70 characters or less (including spaces), title tag should include a few relevant keywords and a company or brand name. Important keywords should be placed at the beginning of the title tag. It is recommended to avoid using stop words such as “the”, “is”, “can”, “and”, “but”, “while”, “that”, “we”, etc. that have no keyword value.
3. Meta descriptions. Meta tags give search spiders a summary of what the page is about. Meta descriptions play an important role in search results and gaining users click-through. Google sometimes uses this summary to display in search result pages (SERPs) and highlights keywords relevant to the search query.
The optimal length of meta description is between 150-160 characters and should include keywords that are relevant to the title tag and content. Consider this an opportunity to advertise content of your page to searchers.
Ideally, each page should be optimized around one main key phrase that should be included in your title tag, meta description, and content.
4. Sitemap.xml. Google uses Sitemaps to learn about a website’s structure, which allows a better crawling of your site. Creating a Sitemap ensures that search spiders know all the pages of your site that may not be discoverable by normal crawling process.
Sitemaps are also used to provide metadata about specific types of content on your site such as video, images, mobile, News. Sitemap.xml files resides in the website main directory and have to be submitted to Google using Google Webmaster Tools.
5. Robots.txt. In addition to Sitemaps, a robots.txt file is used to instruct search engine robots about the access to your site. Before accessing pages of a site, search spiders check the robots.txt file to see if it restricts them from accessing certain pages. You only need a robots.txt file if the directory of your site includes content that you don’t want search engines to index. Robots.txt file resides in the main directory of your site.
6. Rich snippets and Microdata. High ranking on the search engine result pages (SERPs) is no longer the only problem to solve with website optimization. When searchers glimpse through result pages they look for additional relevant information to their query before they make a click-through. Rich snippets provide searchers with that information and help them quickly decide if the content that exists on a web page is relevant.
To implement rich snippets web developers have to add additional HTML markup to a website. One of the most used markups is microdata. Using simple HTML tags microdata allows you to indicate specific type of information: reviews, people, products, businesses and organizations, recipes, events, music and video content.
7. Code restructuring. Though search algorithm had changed dramatically since it’s original inception, it is still known that search spiders do not search deep into a site and do not spend much time on any given page. With this in mind, code restructuring of some pages is still a valid addition to any advanced SEO techniques. Web developers restructure a page (without effecting a page layout) in a way that content is placed higher in the code. This helps spiders quickly find relevant information.
The above advanced SEO techniques will significantly improve your website’s online visibility but that’s not the limit of SEO optimization that can be done to a website. A website can be further optimized for better usability with accesskeys (use of keyboard shortcuts), tabindex (use of tab key to navigate through a page), and web accessibility for people with disabilities. It might sound like unnecessary optimization, but everything that makes a website more human friendly is highly valued by search engines.