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SEO Web Style Guide – Quick Reference

Post Titles or Headlines:

Be specific, state the conclusion of the post, don’t be clever.

Don’t write a title for shock value.

Don’t use sarcasm or puns.

Try to use keywords that someone would use to search for the post.

Front load titles, paragraphs and sentences with keywords

That is the first word or words of a title should be a keyword.

Avoid punctuation, symbols and characters such as “&”, “1/2” and dashes/em-dashes, avoid unusual characters, any sarcasm.

Use everyday language, real words, avoid slang, “non-words”, made up words, unconventional spelling, jargon or clichés.

Avoid abbreviations and contractions.

Image File Names

If possible, use descriptive keywords in your image file names, separate individual words with hyphens, don’t use spaces or underscore, use all lower case and avoid numbers as much as possible.

A hyphen in a file name or URL is a special signal to Google, it means to Google a space, that is two words separated by a space.

For example, no one would search for “capecod” (all one word).

They would search for “cape cod”.

So why would you name your file “capecodecanal.jpg” ?

Use hyphens like this: “cape-cod-canal-photo.jpg”

Bad: dex_ 34318xxxx Photo.jpg

Good: neil-entwistle-murder-weapon-gun-westwood-massachusetts.jpg

Alt Text:

Use descriptive keywords in your alt text, you don’t need to have complete sentences, (people won’t be expecting to see prose here and most likely won’t see it at all unless they mouse-over, but Google will!) Notice how I left out kill words like “the”, “in”, “used as”, in the example below:

Neil Entwistle gun, murder weapon seized by Westwood police, Westwood, Massachusetts.

Main body “Writing for the web” People “scan” webpages as opposed to reading them. Another way to think of it is we “see” text on webpages. Therefore, you should write for the way your viewers desire to consume information. The rules for paragraphs are different for web then for print. The most drastic difference is a full line space between paragraphs, (carriage return and line feed)

Avoid large blocks of text, you should have new paragraphs every 1-3 sentences.

Use tighter writing.

We also don’t indent the first word of a new paragraph. Further information can be found here: Web Style Guide.

Repeat keywords and key phrases as much as possible

“Front load” your keywords and key phrases. That is place them at the beginning of your sentence, paragraph, story, etc.

Use active voice, be concise, avoid (as much as possible) “kill words” such as: the, it, we, a, and, by, etc.

Repeat keywords and key phrases as much as possible

Link your keywords to websites as opposed to just giving the url. That means like this:

Bad:

The link to the science museum is: www.sm.org …

Good:

You can visit Boston’s Museum of Science …

Avoid the word “and”, replace it commas if appropriate. Be specific, replace the words “the”, “we”, “I”, “they”, “it” and so on with the actual name of the subject, person or entity. Avoid shorthand and abbreviations, rule of thumb: “When in doubt, write it out!”.

That means, “one-half” for “1/2”, “five dollars” for “$5” and so on.

This is especially true for local conventions such as “MA” for Massachusetts as well as other state abbreviations.

Don’t use “&” where you mean to use “and” except for where it is a part of a recognized name or

brand like “Black & Decker” and then try to use a comma. Replace things like “1 mi” with: “one mile” Replace “1st”, “2d”, etc., with “first”, “second”, and so forth. Replace “October 1st” with “October 1” Don’t use “smiley faces” or other unusual text characters. Don’t use “%” (the percent sign) when you mean to say “in care of” or “owned and operated”, in fact you should write out the word “percent” as opposed to “give 100% effort”. Don’t place extra space around the slash character (“/”) it is “over/under” not

“over / under”.

Repeat keywords and key phrases as much as possible

Never, EVER underline ANYTHING, use bold for emphasis.

Avoid Subscript or Superscript, fancy characters for ordinals (the little “1st” for the “first”), small fraction symbols ” ⅓” for “1/3” or “one-third”, etc.

Repeat keywords and key phrases as much as possible

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