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ABC of SEO - Programming Codex





Often overlooked but incredibly important, the ALT tag helps tell search engines and visually impaired users the purpose of an image. It’s a great chance to add some important keywords to your code, but keep it sensible. Remember the golden rule of SEO; never make a website for a search engine, make it for your users. Spammed out alt tags will only harm your optimization, keep it below 4 words and make sure it makes logical sense.

alt=”” src=”../images/logo.gif” />alt=”Something Logical” />


Bold Tag?

Never B always STRONG

and (bold and italics) are used purely for visual effect and mean nothing to search engines, whereas and are semantics to add emphasis. Google will see something in a tag as more important than something. However, like everything in SEO it has to be used within reason, making your entire content bold will not help your rankings. The fewer times you use the tag on a page the more important the one or two keywords wrapped in a strong tag will have.



This refers to a copy of a website stored on a search engine. Google, as well as other search engines, will let you view their current cache of a website via a link in their listings. It is important to stay on top of when your site was last cached, changes you make to your site will not get picked up on until the search engine includes them in their cache index.



“Lenin said that people vote with their feet. Well, that’s what’s happening. They either go, or they don’t go. It’s all politics. It’s all demographics.” – Warren Beatty

Demographics is crucial in any form of marketing, understanding your potential market, their ages, sex, race, income, location, etc will help you lead a successful marketing campaign and will result in a higher conversion rate. AdWords and Adcenter, allow you to target PPC ads at searchers who fit amongst a specific demographic, doing this correctly can make the difference between a good PPC campaign and a highly profitable PPC campaign.


Ever flux

Major search engine indexes are continually updating and refreshing, Google coined this process ‘ever flux’. Previous to this Google would update their index roughly once a month and this was referred to as a ‘Google Dance’.


Fresh Content

Some SEO firms see adding fresh content as simply updating a page once and again if your a webmaster and you want to rank highly in the search engines you will need a consistent flow of original high-quality content. Firstly it builds the size of your site and secondly, it shows the search engines your content is fresh and that people will want to read it. Low quality, short and unoriginal content will not help and will only jeopardize your rankings.



Google truly is the key player in the search engine world, it has revolutionized the internet and how people use it. Google started as a brainchild of two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.

Now it has ventured into marketing, browser wars, phones, and online software development.



Where’s your heading at? Use headings accurately to structure your content, improve readability and transmit your site’s message. Make sure you get your important phrases in but don’t start cramming. Analyze the importance of each phrase and fit with the appropriate heading,

H1 is the most important and H6 being the least. You don’t need to use all 6 on one page, just as many as you wish, also try and keep them in order so H1 first and H2 second. Using more than one H1 will take away from the importance of the tag, so only use it once or twice and make sure it is well written. I

Internal Linking

This refers to the process of linking to other pages on the same site, it can help users navigate the site and enable search engines to quickly find and crawl pages, which may otherwise not be linked in the navigation or footer. However, this is commonly misunderstood and a lot of SEO companies see the need to link each of their keywords, this isn’t necessary and it will only water down the importance of other links on the page and confuse your users.



Javascript is a client-side scripting language, which is embedded into HTML to add more dynamic features to a website. Although Javascript itself isn’t indexed by search engines the HTML it controls is. So with the rise of javascript libraries including jQuery and Mootools, web developers are now able to add more interactivity and animation to their sites without using Flash.


Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

* Why have you chosen them?

* Are they relevant?

* How many people are competing for them?

* How many people are searching for them?

* How much is your competition spending on them?

Just a few questions you need to be asking yourself at the start of your optimization campaign. We have attached a few helpful links below to help you on your way to prosperous keyword research.


Link Building

Link building, when performed correctly is the process of gathering high-quality links from around the web, which in hand show to the search engines that the site being optimized is authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy.

A few tips to get you on your way.

* Build high-quality content, get high-quality links.

* Be creative with your link building, think of new ways to gain high-quality links, competitions, social bookmarking, April fools, etc.

* More links doesn’t mean better links; it’s all about quality, not quantity!

* This is especially true for a new site, you need to ensure your first set of links are from high-quality sites if you plan on getting to page one anytime soon.

* Dmoz, although this has become a highly debatable subject in SEO over the last 6 months, Dmoz is still very much link-worthy and authoritative.

* Never, ever, EVER use directory submission software or companies.

There are many more examples and we aim to cover this subject in much more detail in a new post during our SEO season. M

Meta Tags

Meta tags appear in the section of an HTML document and were a way of helping search engines analyze the content of your site.

Some of the Meta Tags include:

* Meta Description

* Meta Keywords

* Meta Distribution

* Meta Author

* Meta Language

All but the first (meta description) are not worth the time they take to implement into a site. Meta tags are no longer seen as a worthwhile SEO technique and will make no difference to your rankings. We have a slightly controversial view on these, however, from experience, we can honestly say that only the Meta description tag can help an optimization campaign. And that is purely to do with the fact that it appears in your listing under your title in the major search engines. Use it to gain searcher’s attention and give them a reason to click through, mention your special offers, pricing, services, etc.



Nofollow is a link attribute used to prevent a link from passing any link authority (PageRank, age, etc) and is commonly used on user-generated sites, such as blogs and forums. It was introduced by Google as a way to cut down on blog comment spamming. However, some blogs chose to remove this attribute and chose to reward their reader with a link back if they take the time to comment, this referred to a ‘DoFollow’.

The no-follow link attribute looks like this:



Organic Search Results

Most major search engine listings comprise of paid ads and unpaid listings. The unpaid listings are formed using the search engine’s algorithm and are called the organic search results. The organic search listings are selected by relevancy, link data, domain name and arguably age. Typically these are more popular than paid ads, hence why they appear on the left-hand side and have more space compared to the paid adverts. Users also tend to see them as a more reliable and relevant source, meaning they have a higher click-through rate. However, to appear on page one in the organic search results you will either need a high understanding of SEO or a reliable firm.



PageRank is Google’s attempted scale at measuring web document importance based on its link capital.

Google describing PageRank

“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important’.”

The PageRank formula is:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

* PR= PageRank

* d= dampening factor (~0.85)

* c = number of links on the page

PR(T1)/C(T1) = PageRank of page 1 divided by the total number of links on page 1, (transferred PageRank) For any given page A the PageRank PR(A) is equal to the sum of the parsed partial PageRank given from each page pointing at it times by the dampening factor plus one minus the dampening factor.

A variation of Google’s PageRank appears in their toolbar, this is often referred to as ‘Toolbar PageRank’ and ranges from 1 to 10 (10 being the best), Google has yet to disclose any kind of precise info of how they determine a Toolbar PageRank value, it also updates periodically, on average once every 3 months.


Quality Links

These are the links you need to be aiming to achieve to start ranking in the search engines.

A trusted link can be broken down into the following categories.

* Relevance – The more relevant the link the more power it has if you were optimizing a veterinary website, links from internet marketing sites wouldn’t carry as much strength as links from somewhere like the RSPCA or another veterinary clinic.

* Trusted source – Authoritative links are the best kind of links. If you can build links from the government or educational site you will have your foot in the door. However, this is no easy task, the best way to gain this kind of link is to be creative and think on your feet. See if your local council has any kind of local business directory.

* Age – Search engines tend to trust links from well-established sites over new websites.

* Amount of Links – The harder it is to gain a link the more value that link will carry and the less likely that your competitors will be able to get a link off of the same site. Take into account the number of external links on that page, that’s one of the best ways to judge the strength of a link.


Reciprocal Links

This is where websites agree to trade links with one another to try and build a false authority. They made also use 3-way linking or other low-quality link building schemes to try and trick the search engines. Overall this kind of link building is not recommended especially if the site you are trading links with isn’t relevant to your industry. Google will pick up on the fact that it is reciprocal and mark the link as a low-quality link. However, It is worth considering developing a resources page where you can list useful websites and in case an opportunity comes along to trade with an authoritative and relevant website, you will have somewhere to place their link without spamming your homepage or any other important pages.



This is one of the SEO top buzzwords, SERP simply means Search Engine Ranking Position and refers to where your site is currently positioned in a search engine. You will hear this thrown around a lot in the SEO playground and you don’t want to look like the dumb kid, pretending to know what it means. It can be used in the following contexts.

“I’m not sure what happened to my SERP’s after I used that directory submission service, I have fallen 10 pages.”


Title Tag

Experts agree us included, that this is the most heavily weighted piece of on-site optimization.

Here are some points to help you on the way to writing a search engine and user-friendly title for each page.

* Uniqueness – Each page title needs to unique for that page, do not have the same title for any two pages.

* Length – Try to keep it below 70 characters, anything over that will not only look messy but it will also get ignored by the search engines.

* Logical and Descriptive – Sum up your site and try to get your most important keywords in, however, DO NOT spam this, it appears in the search engine listings and something like ‘web design, website design, web optimization, search engine optimization, SJL’ will not only get ranked lowly by Google it will also lower your click-through rate. We would recommend something along the lines of ‘Web Design & Search Engine Optimisation Specialists | SJL Web Design’.

U Usability

You may think usability and SEO are two completely different things, but getting visitors to your sites is only half the battle, the other half is getting those conversions. If your site is complicated and your users can’t find their way around, the whole point of optimizing will become useless, because they will just leave and you will have a rocket high bounce rate.

So take into account the usability of your site, ask people who have never used it before just to browse it in front of you, watch them carefully, but try not to put them off. See if they become confused and take notes on where they experience problems and what could be done to improve them. If they can’t find things like a link to your contact page in less than 10 seconds your site may be losing your potential inquiries.


Viral Marketing

Apart from sounding like some kind of allergic reaction to a bad marketing campaign, viral marketing is an effective way of promoting your brand identity and increasing visitors to your website. Channels for viral marketing include emails, YouTube and simply enough word of mouth.



WordPress is a popular blogging platform created by Matt Mullenweg in 2003. Installing and maintaining a blog is a great way to build transparency for your business and forms a basis for trust between client and company. It also helps by adding a source of fresh content, which will help your site improve in the search engines. WordPress is easy to manage and with the abundant amount plugins and templates available it is highly recommended by us at SJL.


XHTML (Extensible HyperText Markup Language)

XHTML is a markup language that has the same depth of expression as HTML but also conforms to the XML syntax. XHTML along with CSS has dramatically changed the way we build websites, if you are serious about appearing high in the search engines it is worth taking the time to get the coding right, even if it means hiring someone to do it for you. It may be tempting just to drop into tables or even just use the slice tool on photoshop or fireworks, however, this is becoming increasingly outdated and you will have to do twice the work to get anywhere in the search engines.



We saw yahoo rise to fame during the dot-com bubble of the early ’00s. It was formed by Jerry Yang and David Filo in 1994, who were also Stanford University students like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. During the last 7 years, we have seen Yahoo fall behind Google as the world’s most favorite search engine. Nowadays, Yahoo is heavily in the shadows of Google and its fate has been hanging in the balance throughout 2008, with multiple failed acquisition attempts by Microsoft.



Well sorry, I guess. This is the best we could come up with; Z isn’t one of the easiest letters to put SEO terms to. If you can think of anything better please drop us a comment below and we will consider adding it.

Anyway, Zeitgeist is one of Google’s tools for analyzing search trends over time, split by country. It is described by Google as providing ‘search patterns, trends, and surprises’. It can be a good tool for extensive keyword research and we applaud for being with the letter Z.

It is pronounced ‘ts-“gIst, ‘zIt’ if that helps and it means ‘the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.’

Article Written by Sam Logan, Senior Designer and SEO Consultant at SJL Web Design.

Source by Sam J Logan

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