In the last installment, I covered matching words and phrases on your website to those that a potential customer may use to search for your service or product. I also cleared up the mystery of meta tags. This month, the topic is tweaks that you can make in your HTML code for better optimization.
Let’s go back to how Google thinks. (Artificial intelligence, at your fingertips.) It wants to look at your page in the way a human reader might, so it can optimize the results that it provides to its human readers. One thing we instinctively look for when we read is a hierarchy of information.
And here’s how we think: Hey, look, there’s some big text at the top of the page. That must be what the page is about since it’s in the most prominent part of the page (outside of the navigation, presumably). I see lots of text below that, interrupted by some more prominent text. That must be the body of the page and some sub-headings that describe the section of text below. Oh, cool picture. What’s that all about? Oh, there’s a caption about the photo. Okay, now what’s this page about?
Does that sound familiar? At every point along the way where I’ve identified a piece of information on the page, there is an HTML tag – a bit of code at the beginning and end of a group of words – that identifies the bit of text within it as an element with purpose. The heading at the top of the page is usually set off in the HTML code with H1 tags, like this:
<h1>This is a heading</h1>
These tags, by convention, are used to create the visual hierarchy for the human reader. Google leverages that to read that content as a very important clue to the focus of the page.
<h2>This is a subheading</h2>
Other tags in everyday use that are helpful to Google in categorizing your page’s content include body tags, paragraph tags, captions and alt tags for images and anchor text. Anchor text is of special note since it is the (often underlined) text that links a user from one page to the the next. This type of hypertext is foundational to the “web” of the internet. The nugget you need to know about that is that the text within the anchor tag is highly informative to Google about the page that it is linking to. So, instead of saying “Click here for information about antique toasters”, where “click here” is linked, you would want to link “antique toaster.” For example, “Learn more about antique toasters.”
There is a lot more to tell of this quest to collude with artificial intelligence but I’ll leave it at that for now.