Our SEO Audits series continues with a detailed look at the web template elements that can help (or hinder) your site’s traffic.

(If you missed our posts on site infrastructure and design and coding, go ahead and catch up. We’ll be here.)

Ready? All right. Let’s talk about…

Web templates

The foundation of any web page is built upon the use of pre-defined page templates that define the look and feel of the user experience. This analysis is designed to show where SEO techniques can be leveraged to improve searchability without negatively impacting the user experience. Often user experience is improved by the use of these techniques.

Additionally, by auditing and making changes to the template and the business rules that populate it, change is impacted on a large scale, since any content entered into a specific template would be reasonably well optimized.

Base page template

Simplicity and flexibility are often the intent with the creation and use of website design and usability – there are a bunch of templates you can use, including the new one-page scrolling templates and a bunch of basic motifs available from platforms like WordPress. Whatever you’re using, make sure that your most important content is no more than a click away and that your most important keywords have their own optimized pages/sections.

Title Tags for Page Template

Syntax: <title>Page Title</title>

Aside from overall page content, the title tag is the most important HTML tag or element of a web site. All search engines consider the keywords in this tag and give them a lot of importance in their ranking system. The general rule of the title tag is to be unique to each page. The tag should meet the various rules of length, keyword density, and prominence. Additionally, many search services display the title tag in the search results, so the tag must be compelling enough to prompt users to click through to the Domain site.

poor title tags

Same titles for different pages is a no-no. Use targeted keywords at the beginning of the tags.

Level of Impact: Very high

Meta Tags

Syntax: <meta name=”description” content=”Page Description”>

<meta name=”keywords” content=”keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3″>

Level of Impact: High to Moderate; does the content compel the browser to click?

meta description

Tip: If the search engines find the target keyword in the meta description, then it is very likely that the engine will display the meta description as the snippet description in the search result listing. For this reason, it is very important to include a target (unique) keyword in the meta description.

Heading Tags

Syntax: <h1>Keyword in the Heading</h1>

Level of Impact:  Very high

Heading tags provide a hierarchy of the importance of the content on a given HTML page. The H1 tag (heading 1) is designated as the most important tag, with the H2, H3, H4 to H6 providing the guide as to which content is most to less important on the page. Unfortunately, many of the navigational and footer links are set as H1 headings. This format confuses the search crawler as to main subject of the page and could cause a penalty from the search engines.

All templates should incorporate the target keyword phrase prominently in the first heading tag. The first header on the page should be an H1 tag and there should only be one H1 tag on any page.

Edit H1 tags to make certain that there is only one per page and it includes the target keywords for that specific webpage. The H1 should be the most prominent heading on the page. We recommend assigning H2 or H3 tags (of which there can be multiple on each page!) to the navigational and footer links.

Link Text

Syntax: <a href=”page.html”>Keyword</a>

Engines heavily weight link text because they view links much like votes. Search engines figure that you would only link to a page that you feel is important — and therefore they should deem it important as well. Once targeted keywords are selected, incorporate optimized anchor text.

Level of Impact: Very high

Alt Attribute in Images

Syntax: <img src=”image.gif” Alt=”keyword phrase” height=100 width=200>

Level of Impact: High to Moderate

Alt text in images is another place where a keyword can be plugged in and search engines are certainly crawling the text. Now that search engines show results for images in addition to the regular SERP listings, optimizing images is also an important aspect for SEO.


Visible Text

Level of Impact: Very high

Visible text is just what it sounds like: front-end content visible to browsers. Visible text was once the domain of “keyword stuffing,” but Google’s updates over the years have come to value rich, useful, relevant content, and an obvious emphasis on keywords may penalize your sites. Concentrate on being helpful and informative instead.


Stay tuned for the rest of the SEO Audit series, which will address link analysis and spam/black-hat techniques!

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Kent Yunk
Kent Yunk, a longtime practitioner of SEO and an established leader in the field, is leading search engine optimization initiatives for new and existing clients across a wide spectrum of industries. Kent began his SEO experience at IBM as Senior Web Strategist in the Information Management organization. This position led him to Global Strategies (a division of Ogilvy & Mathers), where he became a Global Search Strategist with client engagements that included Adobe Systems, Seagate Services, Cisco and Intel. At Ask.com, Kent used his search optimization experience to build new Q&A focused content sites. At QuinStreet, he directed SEO efforts for more than 40 financial services websites. Most recently, Kent led SEO consulting engagements at Roaring Pajamas, a digital marketing agency.