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The Ultimate SEO Guide for 2009

     
4:02 pm on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



HTML and XHTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0
[w3.org...]

The above link provides "everything" you need to know about on page SEO. If you see anything that was missed, please do speak up!

It is like the Digital Encyclopedia of SEO. Be prepared to spend about 6-8 hours of "initial" reading, following links, using your back button, etc. After you have read the entire document and "all" linked references, I will Certify you as an SEO. Along with myself. :)

5:38 pm on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



G88: Providing descriptive titles for Web pages
[w3.org...]

Users can more quickly identify the content they need when accurate, descriptive titles appear in site maps or lists of search results. When descriptive titles are used within link text, they help users navigate more precisely to the content they are interested in.

I know, the <title> Element gets a lot of fanfare around here. That's because it is one of the most important elements of the page structure. I don't think we could ever tire of these types discussions because you can always learn something new when it comes to <title> structuring. I have some neat little tidbits to share with you too. ;)

No Limits

There is no "official limit" to the number of words and/or characters for <title> Elements. There are only suggested limits that are not set in stone either. I use different strategies for different documents. I do not follow the same structure from page to page. Since the semantic markup on the page changes, my <title> elements usually reflect those elements and their order.

SERP Truncation ...

One of the things you'll want to think about are the truncation limits in the SERPs. Google truncates at 66/67 characters depending on what is in the last character position. You'll want to make sure that you've kept "full" words in those first 66/67 characters so nothing of importance is getting truncated in the SERPs. My understanding is that well crafted <title> elements that appeal to the searcher's visual are where it is at! How you "turn the lights on" may have a direct impact on CTR.

Turn The Lights On

One of the goals is to craft a <title> that when a user searches for 3 or more words, that entire <title> "lights up" in the SERPs. That is assuming that you are using a 5-7 word <title> element in most instances. In performing my test queries, I've found many sites holding prime positions using strategies of this nature. Some are doing it purposely, others have "stumbled" onto just the right mix in their <title>. And of course it is all dependent on the search query.

Shorter <title> Elements also perform well. But, I feel that usually only happens when the page is "very specific" and you're dealing with one "primary phrase". When I say shorter, I'm referring to 66/67 characters or less and that includes spaces. For me, long titles are anything that truncates and presents the ellipses (...) in the SERPs.

Forward/Reverse Thinking

Forward and Reverse <title> structure should be given careful consideration. If you follow the link above, they provide this example...

<title>WGBH  Media Access Group  Captioning FAQ</title>

Example 3: A Web page with a descriptive title in three parts
A Web page provides guidelines and suggestions for creating closed captions. The Web page is part of a "sub-site" within a larger site. The title is separated into three parts by dashes. The first part of the title identifies the organization. The second part identifies the sub-site to which the Web page belongs. The third part identifies the Web page itself.

I'm a big fan of using the above type structure by default. The hyphens are separators and allow you to duplicate primary phrases and/or parts thereof allowing increased exposure for keyword searches. You can easily write a <title> that uses the keyword twice and use that from both a Forward and Reverse perspective. Use the hyphen to your advantage.

They also provide an example from a Newspaper Web Page. That one is interesting in that they suggest the actual date in the <title>. I feel this is very good practice and with Google now displaying dates in the SERPs, it is definitely something to consider. You can also get the date to display in the SERPs if it appears right after the <body> element and/or in the first part of main content that Google can freely index. Works in the meta description too.

The <title> Element is mandatory.

Note that the (mandatory) title element, which only appears once in a document, is different from the title attribute, which may be applied to almost every HTML and XHTML element.
8:31 pm on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



H50: Using structural elements to group links
[w3.org...]

The objective of this technique is to demonstrate how to group links into logical sets. When links are grouped into logical sets (for example, in a navigation bar or main menu that appears on every page in a site) they should be marked up as a unit.

Marked up as a Unit? Expect to see that term quite a bit moving forward as semantics become more mainstream. The term Section is also going to be seen quite a bit.

When it comes to a "group of links" there are three methods to use;

<ul>, <ol>, <map>
. You utilize CSS to present the visual and then HTML to present the semantics properly.

Are all of your navigational links surrounded by a list element? Even those in your footers? Do you have links that are just sitting in a

<div></div>
with no semantic meaning?

Disclaimer: The WCAG utilize examples that I don't agree with in some instances. If you see something over there that doesn't look right, it probably isn't! Although when it comes to Accessibility, they tend to lean towards old school markup when it can be achieved using new school markup. I guess they have some leeway if using a Transitional DOCTYPE.

P.S. You are welcome to ask questions. In fact, I'd like to ask one about these elements. When would you use

<ol>
instead of
<ul>
in navigational elements? Is there a hard rule to follow?
1:22 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



When would you use <ol> instead of <ul> in navigational elements?

the first example that comes to mind would be chapter navigation for a book/article/etc.
maybe procedural steps or a timeline navigation could semantically benefit from an ordered list.

8:29 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Hello, people!
I want to join the conversation about the <ol> and <ul> elements. I am a coder, not SEO, but I have to become one. I hope a good one too :)

I have always presented my main navigation menus as <ul> but now that I think about it you could present it as an <ol>. This way you'll be sectioning the parts of your site e.g. 1.Main page; 2.About page; 3.FAQ page etc.

Still using unordered lists for navigational menus is good as you're presenting a list of links to the user agent. But which list is better?

10:07 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], lordgore!

This way you'll be sectioning the parts of your site e.g. 1.Main page; 2.About page; 3.FAQ page etc.

"semantically speaking", why would the order of items be important in your example?

10:32 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



When would you use <ol> instead of <ul> in navigational elements?

In a multipage form, Page 1 , Page 2 etc.

Great thread btw, lots to digest and take advantage of.

10:49 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Thank you, phranque.

Thinking about it the order of these items isn't important.
You could (even better should) use ordered lists for navigation for table of contents or a step-by-step guide.

I'm sure I will stick to <ul>'s for my main navigation and <ol>'s when I need something listed in order.

Nice thread, great forum!

Cheers :)

11:01 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



there's a few you might have missed.

Best WebmasterWorld Threads of 2008:
[webmasterworld.com...]

11:11 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I'm sure I will stick to <ul>'s for my main navigation and <ol>'s when I need something listed in order.

That's the way I look at it. Welcome to WebmasterWorld lordgore!

Would an A-Z listing qualify for the

<ol>
element?

I like the Step by Step Guide example too. That surely qualifies. And, to make things even more interesting, I'll use the link rel element (start, next, prev, etc.) to group those documents together and make them whole. :)

Would you show numbers in a menu for the visitor? I really like to have "order" with everything I do. It is so much easier to direct someone to #3 on the list, isn't it?

Now, if you show the numbers, do you fiddle with the CSS to get the padding and everything just right or do you not display the numbers and make them part of the anchor text?

What happens if the numbered list needs to be ascending?

By the way, I have read and assimilated "all" of the documents that reside here...

Introduction to Techniques for WCAG 2.0 - Table of Contents
[w3.org...]

I "promise" if you read at least the section on General Techniques, you will be far more educated on the requirements for on page SEO than most. If you read all linked resources within the documents, you will be in a class above many. You'll have a "complete" understanding of what is required in all instances you may be challenged with. Heck, the WCAG even give you working code examples that validate.

Congratulations to the WCAG for a document that is leaps and bounds beyond anything I've read from anyone in regards to on page SEO. Ya, they let the cat out of the bag as they say. No, they never mention the term SEO in their documentation. Not that I could find anyway. But, they do reference UA just about everywhere. ;)

11:46 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Would an A-Z listing qualify for the <ol> element?

My first thought was yes, as there is a defined order to an alphabetical list.

However the W3C site says:

An ordered list, created using the OL element, should contain information where order should be emphasized

With this in mind, perhaps there is no need to emphasise the order of the letters in the alphabet as everybody should already know the order.

It is also likely a designer would use CSS to remove the numbering against the individual elements, this also suggests the order does not actually need to be emphasised.

So I would go for a <ul>.

11:55 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



there's a few you might have missed.

Best WebmasterWorld Threads of 2008:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Thanks! I have to get reading and that's just the thing i need.


Would an A-Z listing qualify for the <ol> element?

That definitely qualifies for an ordered list. The best thing is that you don't need to type the corresponding letter for every new item. Just style your <ol> to display them automatically

ol list-style-type: upper-alpha;

Have a look at all the style types for lists [w3schools.com]

About reading the specs from the w3g - I have. At least some of them and am rereading as time goes by. You have to read them if you are willing to build accessible sites. I have done so through my interest in (x)HTML. Semantic markup is the way to go and I am so pleased that on-page SEO is that. That means that in the most part I have made my sites was coding SE-friendly without trying.

I can't agree that they're letting the cat out of the bag. They are showing the best practice for making websites. And if the best way of doing so is helping your ranking... well, nothing strange about that.

3:05 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



there's an example in the w3c wcag doc which uses the ordered list for a sequential process:
H48: Using ol, ul and dl for lists Techniques for WCAG 2.0 [w3.org]

That definitely qualifies for an ordered list. The best thing is that you don't need to type the corresponding letter for every new item. Just style your <ol> to display them automatically

i'm not sure this really does what you want.
an alphabetized list certainly has an implicit order, but there may be repetition or gaps in the letters.
therefore you would have to set the value attribute for every list item for this to work as required.

3:32 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



You can always add the empty <li> tag and give it a class which wont display it. Thus having the gap between letters.

I don't know about repetitions. I don't see the point in having the same index for two different things. If by repetition you meant something like A.a, A.b, A.c you could put an <ul> inside the <li> element and add the letters manually, yes.

And if you still manually edit your list if it needed something added or removed you have to go through every <li> object in a <ul>. Not the case with <ol>.
<li>'s don't have a value too.

But that is offtopic as this is a personal choice of formatting your content.

4:06 am on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



<li>'s don't have a value too.

it may be deprecated but it is still supported.
from the HTML 4.01 Specification:
Lists in HTML documents [w3.org]

8:44 am on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I wanted to ask for your opinion of linking to other language versions of the same document with the <link> tag.

What are the benefits? Is it good to always put up such a thing?

1:34 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Is it good to always put up such a thing?

It is always good to follow best practice when it comes to HTML specifications and suggestions.

12.3.3 Links and search engines
[w3.org...]

In the following example, we use the hreflang attribute to tell search engines where to find Dutch, Portuguese, and Arabic versions of a document.

^ Check the examples.

I use link rel quite frequently. And no, I don't know what impact it has on the search engines. I do know that certain things seem to happen that I cannot fully explain like the persistent return of indented results where link rel is being utilized. Again, I cannot confirm that it is the link rel that causes the indented result. If you think about it though, if you are using link rel to group documents together, wouldn't you think that would be a cause for indented listings? ;)

4:15 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



We will implement the <link rel="alternative"... thing
That's nice.

Btw.. shouldn't the title of the post be "The Ultimate SEO Guide" :D

Thanks a lot!

1:37 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



One of the terms that you will see referenced quite frequently in these documents is Phrase Elements.

9.2.1 Phrase elements: EM, STRONG, DFN, CODE, SAMP, KBD, VAR, CITE, ABBR, and ACRONYM
[w3.org...]

I'm going to pick one of those for discussion today and that is the CITE Element (previously discussed but needs more air time). At the same time, I'm going to be using the BLOCKQUOTE and Q Elements to demonstrate various techniques in the use of the CITE Element.

H49: Using semantic markup to mark emphasized or special text
[w3.org...]

JAWS contains support for blockquote and cite. WindowEyes contains support for blockquote, q and cite.

Anytime I see specific references to JAWS and/or any of the other assistive technologies like WindowEyes, I'm going to pay special attention to what is being specified. My thinking is if the assistive software is focusing on specific elements, there is a good chance that other indexers are also interested in those same elements. Why? Well, they have to make that content presentable to users with disabilities. The bots are deaf and blind.

<blockquote cite="http://www.example.com/sub/file">
<p>Paragraph 1 content.</p>
<p>Paragraph 2 content.</p>
</blockquote>

I wonder how that cite="" reference is handled by the search engines?

<p>As <cite>Barack Obama</cite> said, <q>Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.</q></p>

I could also take the above and use the CITE Element and cite Attribute...

<p>As <cite cite="http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/">Barack Obama</cite> said, <q>Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.</q></p>

There are all sorts of neat implementations using the BLOCKQUOTE, CITE and Q Elements along with the Attributes that are also available for refining those Elements. If you're an online publisher, you will most likely make ample use of these Elements/Attributes so that your content is semantically correct.

Keep in mind that many of these Elements have default styling. For example the BLOCKQUOTE is indented by default. Many authors use this Element to provide a visual indent which is incorrect usage. BLOCKQUOTE is reserved for a block level quote that has multiple paragraph breaks. Q is reserved for inline quotes that don't require multiple paragraph breaks. Using Q will also produce your curly quotes by default (and they validate). You can style these elements further using CSS.

I'm still wondering how that cite="" reference is handled.

I'll be surprised if this technique doesn't generate a few "huhs". :)

1:08 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



i wonder what would be the best way to use the cite tag if it's not within the blockquote tag and how best to refer the citation to the quote.
i just realized i need to add some more semantics to a "testimonials" page somewhere...
3:37 am on Jan 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Semantic Data Extractor
[w3.org...]

What a great tool to have available!

This tool, geared by an XSLT stylesheet, tries to extract some information from a HTML semantic rich document. It only uses information available through a good usage of the semantics defined in HTML.

The aim is to show that providing a semantically rich HTML gives much more value to your code: using a semantically rich HTML code allows a better use of CSS, makes your HTML intelligible to a wider range of user agents (especially search engines bots).

Does the W3 know something we don't? Especially search engine bots? Hmmm, makes me wonder...

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