1. Head Section Order
BCI’s best practices is to ensure your Web pages’ Meta tags are in the right order: Title > Description > Keywords. Remember, the information you put in these tags is used to render the title and description in the search engine results pages, and is what searchers see.
2. Title Tag
BCI methodology states Title tags should be approx. nine words, plus or minus three. You want to make sure the most important information, including top keywords, show up before the cutoff in the SERP in Google at approximately 70 characters including spaces.
3. Description Tag
The description tag should also be mindful to include the most important info and keywords before the SERP cutoff at approximately 160 characters in Google.
Side note: Don’t forget to make the title and description compelling – this assists in conversions. You don’t want to waste your prime real estate in the SERP with boring copy. For more on your Head section, check out this SEO Newsletter article that discusses the ins and outs of Meta data.
4. Keywords Tag
Even though Google has stated the Keywords tag is not a consideration in ranking, we always include it as a best practice. We list keywords in order from longest in length to shortest in length, separated by commas.
5. Heading Tags
In the body of your content, make sure your first Heading tag always begins as an <h1>. Subsequent heading tags should be <h2>, <h3>, <h4> etc., and be used as the page’s table of contents. For example, <h2> is a subhead of <h1>.
6. Overall Word Count
The amount of words you have on a Web page will vary by topic, keyword and intent. But, in general, less than 250 words is rarely recommended – especially if you’re trying to optimize for keywords. Informational Web pages will almost always warrant at least 450 words. And quality content is key.
7. Alt Attributes with Keywords
The American with Disabilities Act says you should always describe the image on the page for the vision impaired. Ensure your images have proper descriptions associated with them, and if appropriate, keywords for the page. Alt attributes are also required to validate your HTML code.
8. Dashes vs. Underscores in URLs
Underscores are alpha characters and do not separate words. Dashes are word separators, but should not appear too many times or it could look spammy. For more on this topic, check out this post by Google’s Matt Cutts.
9. Fully Qualified Links
If you make your links fully qualified, there’s no question by search engine spiders, browsers, etc. as to where the file is located and what it’s about. If your link looks something like “../../pagename” (a relative link), then it may result in crawl issues for some search engines. Rather than complex URLs, use fully qualified links (http://www.URL). And the site map should always have fully qualified URLs.
You want to be sure the most important code is the first thing the search engine bots crawl. You can externalize the code that gets in the way of this to ensure there aren’t unnecessary lines above the body text.