How to Optimize Every Page for Search Engines: Robots and Humans Alike

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Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses – by definition – on the search engine when considering ways to optimize your site and improve its chances at being found. However, to truly optimize your results – before, during, and after the search – you must consider two important audiences: search engines and human beings.

Why do we care about people when considering our SEO?

Because what we do behind the scenes can have a direct effect on how people view our site, and ultimately use or ignore it.

As luck would have it, some of the most basic SEO strategies used by millions of sites double as ways to engage real users, especially during searches and once they get to your site to start determining the value of your content.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Useful TITLE Tags on Every Page

TITLE tags have significant value and influence on search engines. Essentially, search engines assume this tag will contain a clear representation of the main ideas on this page. Therefore, the keywords and phrases included within it will have a powerful effect on how your pages are found.

Top: The browser window displays the contents of the TITLE tag. Bottom: The source code of the same page.

Top: The browser window displays the contents of the TITLE tag. Bottom: The source code of the same page.

Don’t just use your company name on every page. Make sure to include the subject or title of your page, as well as important keywords that represent the content on the page. And this should be done for EVERY page. Don’t copy one page and repeat the exact same thing on every other page on the site.

Keep in mind that mobile access has increased the number of location-based searches being conducted. Take advantage of this by listing your location in your TITLE tag as well, especially if your business relies on local customers.

How does this tag affect people, though?

The TITLE tag provides the text for the header across the browser window, and, more importantly, the text for each link on search result pages. Combined with a strong Meta Description, you can provide users with an easy at-a-glance look at your site. These extra steps can provide the edge you need as users consider different search results in a limited amount of time.

Use the H1 Tag on Every Page

Just like the TITLE tag, every page should also have a strong H1 tag. In this case, you’ll need to find a spot within the body of the page to use it, but rest assured it’s worth the effort.

H1 tags possess strong SEO value as well as visual appeal, as designers often use this tag for the biggest, boldest text on the page, generally as a page header near the top of the body. Each page should have a short descriptive header that provides context for the user, and it should utilize the H1 tag to ensure search engines see the value as well.

Generate Timely Content to Gain an Edge

Timely content also benefits your site when search results are generated. Fresh content has a better chance at being listed near the top than sites that haven’t been updated recently. Even if you don’t publish news for a living, you can still write about the topics that affect you, your company, your clients, and your industry. Social sharing can do wonders for your SEO as the number of links heading to your site can multiply once they get shared on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Consider the human’s point of view as well: if a pair of similar-looking search results appear and one is dated more recently than the other, which one might have the edge? If the topic is newsworthy at all, the more recent entry may get more clicks based on the chance its content will be more up to date. Besides, showing an interest by publishing some content on a regular basis can gain the trust of potential clients and raise your degree of influence online.

Remember: each search engine has its own specific algorithm to judge the value of each website… and so does every person in the world.

Sometimes we know exactly what we want, and other times we seem to browse with no destination in mind. In either scenario, we must be clear on our websites about what we offer to search engines and people alike. Any uncertainty about your site and its content may result in users being less likely to click it and search engines pushing it further down the list of results. Give them something to read, early and often, and those users should begin to begin to communicate with you as well.

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Dan Gorgone

Marketing teacher / Team Leader at Treehouse. Usability preacher. Red Sox fan. Born and raised in Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @dangorgone.

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