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Refine the HTML Code in Your Web Pages for Better SEO Results

Whether you are working with an existing Web page or creating new Web content from scratch, you need to refine your HTML code for search engine optimization (SEO).

Looking at your page in the HTML code view, your first step is to do what is called “getting the red out.” (In an application like Page Analyzer — available from — things that you need to correct are displayed in red text, so it's easy to figure out where to start.) You want to fix the blatant SEO issues, the ones that are the most obvious and often the easiest to fix. Here’s what to look for:

  • Title tag. The Title tag should appear first in your HTML code’s Head section. It should be unique and contain your page’s main keyword (with no word repeated). Normally the Title tag should be between six and twelve words in length (brief).

  • Description Meta tag. The Meta description tag should appear second in your HTML Head section. It needs to contain all of the keywords used in the Title tag, and should be written like a sentence because this is often what search engines display within a result listing. Any word should not appear more than twice. The length guideline is 12 to 24 words.

  • Meta keywords tag. The Meta keywords tag should appear third in your HTML head section and should contain all of the words used in the Title and Description tags. It can be written as a list separated by commas, starting with the long phrases and ending with single words. No single word should be used more than four times, and the total length should not exceed 48 words.

  • Heading tags. Heading tags (H#) set apart your on-page titles and subheadings, and search engines analyze them to determine your page’s main ideas, so make them meaningful. You want to use an H1 for the first and most important heading on the page only. Second-level headings should be given H2, third-level headings H3, and so forth; also, they should never be placed out of order. (Just think back to school term papers and outlines.) When the search engines were built, their main purpose was to index educational, technical, and professional papers, and very little else. The code hasn't changed much since the engines were built. They still rely on the same basic principle they started with.

    A good heading length is from one to five words, but how many headings you should have on a page depends on the content of the page. Only use an H# tag when it defines a sub-change in the content structure, much like a table of contents outlines the structure of a book. You will almost never have multiple H1 tags (how many pages have more than one main topic, after all?), but you could have multiple H2, H3, and so on, if the content supports it.

    For example:

    <h1>Ford Reviews</h1>
    Content about Ford Reviews (200 words)
    <h2>Mustang Reviews</h2>
    Content about Mustang Reviews (200+ words)
    <h2>Ford F-150 Reviews</h2>
    Content about Ford F-150 reviews 200+ words again.

    In this example, the H1 and H2 tags are used properly. Think of it as a school or technical paper. It has to follow an outline format completely. You can have an H3 heading, but only if it's below an H2 tag. If you had a section for the engine specs of the Ford Mustang, for example, that could be considered an H3.

    The usage of H4 and H5 tags would have to be, again, related sub-content to the H3 tag, and so on.

Remember that the spider reads the page from a code view, not the way the page is laid out for visual presentation. They do not yet have the capability of modern browser emulation.

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