Articles written in August, 2007

August 24 2007

Seven words of text can be worth a picture


Everybody knows that a picture can be worth a thousand words but did you know that, on the web, seven words can be worth a picture? In a great article on A List Apart this month, Amber Simmons writes about the importance of good writing to the design of a website.

One thing that struck me was her remarks about the use of text in the alt attribute of images. Accessibility guidelines state that every visible image on your site should have text in the alt attribute. For search optimization, we recommend that the alt attribute text should include the key phrase being targeted for the page but this isn’t just about SEO. After all, the image should reflect the page theme just like the key phrase. Otherwise, why is the image on the page?

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August 9 2007

What’s in a name? URL filenames are sweeter with keywords


Optimization of a web page for better natural search results is all about the proper placement of keywords. Changing URL filenames to include them can be a big undertaking, so it isn’t always high on the list of SEO priorities. Make no mistake, however; it is important. Even so, changing URLs has always needed a little more consideration than other types of optimization because after all, the URL is a webpage’s address and changing your address is always at least a little complicated — even if you are a web page.

So, is it worth it to change your URLs? There are two main questions:

  1. Are there are too many parameters in your URLs?

If the URLs on your site look like this, then there are too many:

URL file names with more than two parameters run the risk of not being followed by search engine spiders. One easy way to see how many parameters are in your URLs is to count the “=” signs. More than two means that you definitely should consider a rewrite.

  1. None of the words from the key phrase you are targeting for the page appear in the URL. So, if you are targeting the key phrase “yellow widget”, this would not be an optimal

Sure, this URL will make it into the listings, but it will get no special advantage for ranking in the search engine results pages.

Whether or not you decide to change URLs can depend on whether or not you’re having a ranking problem, how competitive your key phrase is and if the return is going to be worth the time and effort you’ll need to invest. In fact, for those all-important specific searches with the higher conversion rates, the difference in results could be the difference between whether you or your competitor gets the sale. That alone could make it all worthwhile. So what should a fully optimized URL look like?

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