There is no denying that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is ever-changing. In fact, Google reportedly updates its search engine algorithms about 500 to 600 times a year. However, there are certain critical aspects of SEO that have remained the core of search rankings over the years.
Read on to learn more about the following eight coding principles that still affect SEO in 2021.
The title tag is one of the most important HTML tags for SEO. Titles help search engines and visitors understand the content of your web pages. For that reason, your HTML title tag has to be concise, unique and include keywords you want to rank for.
For example, say you want to rank for, “10 Ways to Curb Air Pollution” but your title tag reads: “<title>10 Reasons for Ozone Protection</title>”. This would confuse search engines and your page won’t rank for the intended keywords. Also, people looking for specific topics won’t bother checking out the contents of your page.
Meta descriptions represent another vital HTML tag that Google and other search engines use to list your webpage in their SERPs. These descriptions appear just under the page title in the search engine results. In-depth meta descriptions help web surfers know what to expect from your page.
The length of meta description texts will vary depending on different search engines. Google recommends keeping the length no longer than 160 characters. It would also be useful to include targeted keywords in the meta description to attract traffic and boost your search rankings.
Never underestimate the power of header tags when it comes to SEO. Headers break up the content in a hierarchical order to make it easier to read. Here’s the recommended way to format your header tags:
- <h1></h1> – main title of the webpage
- <h2></h2> – topic of the title
- <h3></h3> – points related to the topic
- <h4></h4> – backup for the <h3> header
- <h5></h5> – additional supporting points for the <h4> header
Search engine crawlers use header tags to determine segments of your content and decide if the information is valuable to readers. Feel free to add keywords in your header tags to create rich snippets. Nonetheless, be as creative as you can to avoid stuffing the headers with keywords.
Internal Links with Anchors
You must have seen those clickable words on web pages that take you to another page. Those are known as internal links with anchors. Internal links help Google understand the context of your website and rank it better.
By adding a link to your anchor text using the </a> code, you’re telling Google which pages of your site are important, and what they’re all about. Be sure to sound natural, though. Don’t just add links for the sake of it. The key here is to lead readers to pages within your website for a smoother experience.
The speed of your web pages can make or break your search rankings. That being said, there are several techniques you can employ to make your web pages load faster. Among them include “cleaning” your code to eliminate errors and improve server response time.
Image Alt Tags
Search engine crawlers usually can’t access and “read” information contained in photos, videos, or script files. And because these visual elements prove useful in engaging your audience, disregarding them is a bad idea. In fact, you can get up to 94% more views when you deploy graphics in your articles.
From the coding perspective, you need to add image alt tags to enable search engines to decode visual elements of your site and index them. For example, making use of the SWFObject2 library is the best way to serve up Flash files. This will automatically generate alternate, text-based content to allow users to view files that search engine spiders can’t process correctly.
Duplicate content issues aren’t uncommon for websites built using WordPress, Magento, or other CMS platforms like Joomla. This results from the way these programs generate URLs. Unfortunately, search engines don’t care about these hitches and heavily penalize websites with duplicate content.
If your website has pages with similar content, you can deal with duplicate content issues by using the “rel=canonical” tag. Adding this feature to the <head> section of your website will instruct the search engines to ignore, redirect, or index a particular webpage for the specified URL. You can do this by hand or speed up the process using a plugin.
From an SEO angle, there are two coding situations that are applicable to 301 redirects. First, it can be used to tell the search engines to treat both the www and non-www versions of your site’s URLs as the same.
Second, it can be used to inform the search engines that you moved content within your website. For example, say you just switched the title and permalink of your blog article. In that case, you will need to set up 301 redirects to inform the search engine crawlers of that move. This will reduce the odds of losing PageRank due to unresolved backlinks and URLs.
Coding for search engine optimization is key to remaining competitive in the digital marketing space. Fortunately, it’s no longer as hard to learn the ropes as it used to be a few years ago. With some coding knowledge and hard work, you can easily stay above the water and enjoy tons of clicks and traffic.
So, what other coding principle still affects SEO in 2021? Please share them with us in the comments section below.
About the Author
Hugo Morris is a Content Outreach manager at ProfitEngine. He wasted no time getting into his role at ProfitEngine after leaving full-time education. He has spent a year in his role mastering the process of Content Creation. With a background in the English language, he has been able to use his skills to great effect to the point where he is the head of content creation at Profit Engine. For his pastimes, he is an avid lover of reading, music, and traveling.