Hypertext Markup Language or HTML is the code that is behind every web page. Search engines can use certain HTML elements as search engine ranking factors to help generate signals about the content on your page.

The following are some HTML elements you should pay attention to as then can affect your page rank.

HTML Title Tag

The HTML title tag is the HTML element that sets the title of your page and one of the main ways the search engine determines what the content on the page is about. Think of it like a book title. It should describe what is in the book or, in this case, on the page.

HTML titles are the most important HTML signal that search engines use to understand what a page is about.

Example code:

[code]<title>Example Title</title>[/code]

Consider what each page will be found for. Then craft unique, descriptive titles for each of your pages.

  • When creating your title tags use Title Case (or Proper case).
  • Try to clearly indicate what is on the page. Try to include your keywords.
  • Create a unique title for each page.
  • The title should stand on it’s own. The title is what is going to appear in the search engine results. It is also what is going to be the text description of any bookmarks created by the user.
  • If you are creating a title for your home page it should include your organization’s name.
  • Google crops titles at 66 characters, only showing complete words.

The Meta Description Tag

The meta description tag allows you to suggest how you’d like your pages to be described in search listings. It tells the search engine what text to display under your link in the search results.

Example code:

[code]<meta name”description” content=”Here is a description of the applicable page”>[/code]

Strictly speaking the meta tag doesn’t directly affect your search engine optimization.  It’s a display factor. Having a good description under your link in the search results will hopefully lead to more users clicking through to your web site. The number of clicks you receive is a metric that the search engines do include in determining your page rank. So it is an important SEO / HTML element to pay attention too.

Having a meta description tag doesn’t guarantee that your description will actually get used. Search engines may create different descriptions based on what they decide is most relevant for the particular query that a listing is shown for. But it increases the odds that what you prefer will appear. It’s easy to do. So do it.

  • Try to keep your description under 155 characters.

Header Tags

Header tags are used to logically organize your context. Notice the first piece of large text on this page. That is a H1 header tag.

Example code:

[code]<h1>HTML Code & Search Engine Ranking Factors</h1>[/code]

See the sub-headlines on the page? Those also use header tags. Each of them is the next “level” down, using H2 tags.

Header tags are a way to identify different sections of your web site. Search engines use these HTML tags as clues to what the page is about. If the key words you want to be found for are in header tags, you might have a better chance of appearing in searches for those words.

Seeing header tags can be used by the search engine to rank the page it is tempting to over use them. Most search engines are wise to this and will adjust accordingly.


Next: Site Architecture and Search Engine Ranking Factors