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SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION TECHNIQUES TO GET HIGH SCORE IN SERP’S USING RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results which encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness among search engines. Google has recently focused on On-Page SEO strategies, where unique quality content with natural link building are key factor to get good score in major search engines. This article aims to address general questions while writing web content, picking quality keywords and the techniques which boost ranking of a webpage in Google and other popular search engines. Main focus is on the On-Page SEO techniques that are ignored mostly by bloggers and web developers.
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Sci.Int.(Lahore),27(6),5079-5086,2015 ISSN 1013-5316; CODEN: SINTE 8 5079
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SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION TECHNIQUES TO GET HIGH SCORE IN
SERP’S USING RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES
Raza ul Mustafa1*, M. Saqib Nawaz1, M. IkramUllah Lali2
1Department of Computer Science, The University of Lahore, Sargodha Campus, Pakistan
2Department of Computer Science & IT, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
*razaulmustafa@outlook.com
ABSTRACT: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid)
search engine results which encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic
and increase awareness among search engines. Google has recently focused on On-Page SEO strategies, where unique quality
content with natural link building are key factor to get good score in major search engines. This article aims to address
general questions while writing web content, picking quality keywords and the techniques which boost ranking of a webpage in
Google and other popular search engines. Main focus is on the On-Page SEO techniques that are ignored mostly by bloggers
and web developers.
Keywords: SEO, keywords density, keywords optimization, On-page SEO, link optimization.
1. INTRODUCTION
Search engine is a software program that helps Internet
users to find specific information and contents on the World
Wide Web (WWW) [11]. With increasing dependencies on
Web and expansion of the Internet, search engines are the
key factor for extracting the right information at the time of
need. Today, hundreds of different search engines exist,
having distinct abilities and features. Google, Yahoo, Ask,
MSN and Bing are the popular search engines [4]. In
particular, Google has become an essential link between
Internet users and the information they want to seek online.
For this reason, any webmaster, blogger and engineer
should actively learn and encompass the designing and
marketing techniques to attract visitors to their websites.
The search engine marketing firm iProspect [16] pointed out
that more than 60% users preferred to click on the results
that appeared on the first page of Search Engine Result
Pages (SERP’s), while 40% users continued their search by
changing the keyword and/or the search engine itself.
Furthermore, 90% users visited the result pages and are
satisfied from the respective search engines’ performance.
Besides, 5% users do not go beyond second page and only
2% consumers visited beyond third page [1]. Another study
conducted by Zhu and Wu [27] found that “more than 80%
of first visits to a website comes from web search. Among
these visits more than 76% use Google worldwide.
Therefore, getting top positions in SERP is critical for the
constant flow of users to the websites and this is where the
role of SEO comes into play.
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to achieve high
rankings in major SERP’s [28]. According to Jansen and
Spink [9], there is a need to clearly understand emerging
trends in web searching over different global regions and
between various web search engines in order to design
better searching systems. Concept of SEO was initially
proposed by Sullivan [18] and is evolving since then. From
the appearance of Yahoo to Google and with the emergence
of SEO techniques and theory, search engine perfection
techniques are in a continuous process of evolution. In
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), SEO techniques can be
used primarily to increase the ranking of a website that may
lead to web domination [13, 14]. As the Internet is growing
continuously, SEO techniques have become essential and so
is the increased research of SEO techniques. Enterprises,
webmasters and web content creators are adopting the SEO
based methods in order to make their website and
development more suitable for the basic principles of
information retrieval [17].
With the increasing dependency of people on search engine
services, comprehensive and accurate knowledge on SEO
techniques will become essential for anyone who depends
on the Internet. In this article, On-Page SEO tactics are
discussed that will help webmasters and blog developers to
get high rankings for their websites in search engine results.
Killroan [15] in his tutorial demonstrates that how SEO
techniques can be used to increase the visibility of websites.
Additionally, author addressed two general questions: (i)
Factors that contribute to search engine rankings and (ii)
What webmasters and web content developers can do such
that users can find their content and websites easier using
search engine.
Other than existing SEO techniques, this article evaluates
top secrets of major search engine such as Google regarding
positions in query log. We have considered most demanded
points and effective strategies are highlighted in order to
score good results in popular search engines. Furthermore,
main focus is on Google search engine and providing
lessons that enterprises and webmasters can readily
implement without specialized technical know-how and a
web marketing budget. This work will help business
owners, web developers and SEO engineers to further
expand their knowledge on the ethical application of SEO
techniques in order to improve their websites relevancy
which can lead to higher rankings in SERPs. Moreover,
this work will be of interest to Internet users as it offers
basic guidelines for improving website visibility in search
engines, particularly for those who are interested in creating
their own websites. Rest of the article is organized as
follows. Section 2 defines search-related terminology and
describes how the literature for article was selected.
Important approaches and techniques that are used in SEO
are discussed in Section 3. Finally, in Section 4, article is
concluded with some remarks.
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2. SEARCH-RELATED TERMINOLOGY
Search engine works like a system which continuously
crawls information from different online sources. Whenever
a user requests specific information from this system, he/she
simply types in the query and search engine provides
specific information sources against the said query. Search
engine is mainly composed of four parts: crawler, indexer,
database, and graphical user interface [19]. An excellent
search engine should have the following four
characteristics: rapid, accurate, easy to use and strong [20].
Search engines also offer a common interaction for web
users, search marketing practitioners, researchers, and of
course the search engine companies themselves. SERP
displays a list of webpages based on the user’s search query
[15]. SERP normally includes a list of webpages with titles,
a link to the page along-with a short description that shows
where the keywords entered by user matches with the
contents of the page. Users that have used more than one
search engine would have noticed that competing SERPs
show different website rankings for a given query, an
observation highlighted by researchers in [5, 29, 30]. Most
distinctive and successful feature of Google search engine
algorithm is PageRank, introduced by Sergey and Page [6].
PageRank is used to measure the popularity of a webpage,
where popularity is determined by the hyperlinks from other
pages leading to it as well as of the linking pages
themselves.
SEO methods are divided into two main parts: On-page
optimization and Off-page optimization. On-page
optimization refers to elements of website which comprises
of a web page, such as HTML code, textual content and
images. Off-page optimization refers to back-links (such as
links which point to the website that is being optimized) [1,
2]. In SEO, white hat SEO refers to those techniques and
methods that follow search engine rules and regulations.
These techniques are also called ethical SEO and have the
capability to give long lasting results for a website. On the
other hand, black hat SEO refers to those techniques which
are used to manipulate the search engine algorithm in order
to gain high rankings. It is to be noted that these unethical
techniques are not approved by search engine and using
black hat techniques can cause the blacklisting of a site
from the search engine database index altogether [3, 15].
SEM is another way of marketing that involves the
promotion of websites by increasing their visibility
in SERPs through optimization and advertising. SEO relies
on the organic results listing of related pages which search
engine crawled and ranked them according to content
weightage. Organic search results are generated directly
from the search engine ranking algorithm on the basis of
search query relevancy. Mostly, search engines lists up-to
ten pages in a single page, where pages with top ranking
usually have high quality content and increase click through
rate (CTR). CTR is the total number of clicks a webpage
received whenever it appears in SERPs.
In this article, those SEO strategies and tactics are discussed
and proposed that most webmasters, bloggers and web
developers are not aware of while making their online
business on early stages. Similar to Killoran [15], this article
mainly focuses on the following subset of SEO strategies and
tactics:
Helpful for all types of websites, especially for most
searched content such as sports, movies, and health
related websites;
Applicable to a wide range of websites, as opposed to
sites requiring specialized search functionality;
Free, as opposed to paid search options such as
Google AdWords;
Ethical, as opposed to the deceptive tactics used by
spammers.
Furthermore, this article draws its SEO lessons from the
literature distributed by these three classes:
1. Published advice from search engine companies;
2. Empirical studies from the research community;
3. Much experience-based collective wisdom and
occasional empirical studies from SEO
practitioners.
3. SEO TECHNIQUES
As an advertising technique to build a site's positioning, SEO
considers user interests. After referring to the methods
adopted by previous relevant studies, SEO techniques are
observed from four aspects: structure optimization, keywords
optimization, content optimization and link optimization [2].
Along with four mentioned aspects, we choose some other
factors which are very crucial for online business. These
aspects are discussed next.
3.1. Review of Site Content and Structure
Most search engines now focus on the content of website,
which consists of following three components:
a) Quality of content;
b) Content is unique, easy to read and understand;
c) Grammar must be correct. There must be a
comprehensive style to guide what is coming next.
The main goal of SEO is to construct and place the contents of
a website in a way acceptable to user, such that likelihood of
the page increases. If a web developer or blogger is
constructing a webpage, he/she should explain the product
from a user’s perspective keeping in view the minute details
that the visitor may experience. For instance, draw attention to
the offers by a website; narrate a story highlighting the growth
of the company based on earlier records and future trends, etc.
Use of interesting quotes to keep the visitor’s interest alive so
that he/she stays on the page is another approach. Though, the
development is generally thought of as a technical task, the
developer should place text in a way acceptable to users rather
than search engines. Focus should be on such contents that
will engage users in their website; otherwise user will leave
the website.
Similarly, the structure of the website on the other hand is
very important and has numerous effects on SEO. Web
developers and bloggers should link top pages from he main
navigation. Every category page must have a link from
home page, though it is not a hard and fast rule but can be
treated as a general rule of thumb while keeping the
navigating visitor in mind who does not have the whole
sitemap in view. This will help spiders to rank pages in
SERPs. It should be kept in mind that depth of link must be
less than 4, e.g if home page gives link to contact us page,
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its depth is 1. Navigation plan for websites is shown in
Figure 1.
Figure 1. Navigational plan while creating website link
structure
3.2. On-Page SEO Tactics
Google has revealed that speed of site is now main signal
for top ranking, for this most of site penalized due to poor
performance in Google speed test [7]. Google and other
search engines focused on following aspects:
1. Remove render blocking JavaScript in above the fold-
content, Minify JavaScript (JS);
2. Optimize CSS delivery in above the fold-content;
3. Minify HTML
Insert structure data markup;
Optimize images;
Mobile responsive webpages;
Browser caching;
Reduce server response time.
3.2.1. Minify JavaScript
Minify JavaScript (JS) refers to removing unnecessary
spaces, comments and functions which are not used. This
will compress JS, CSS and HTML to load page faster. Most
search engines recommend not using JS above the fold; the
'fold' is where the bottom of the screen is on page load.
Usually first appearance on a website before scrolling down
is 'above the fold'. Anything which needs to scroll down to
be visible is called 'below the fold'. External scripts must be
fetched before they can be executed. Recommended snippet
is listed in Table 1. JS that are necessary to render page
content must be in line while remaining script can be
separated on external file to give extra SEO score. If JS is
too small and it is necessary to include it in the file, then
follow search engine recommended pattern listed in Table
2.
Table 1. Above the fold
Avoid snippets
Recommended
snippet
<HTML>
<head>
<script
src=”external.
js”
type=”text/jav
ascript”></scr
ipt>
</head>
<body>Content
Area</body>
<HTML>
<head>
</head>
<body>
Content
Area
<script
src=”extern
al.js”
type=”text/
javascript”
></script>
</body>
Table 2. Inline JS
Avoid snippets
Recommended
snippet
<HTML>
<head>
<script
src=”external.j
s
type=”text/java
script”></scrip
t>
</head>
<body>Content
Area</body>
<HTML>
<head>
/*Content
of small
JavaScript
here*/
</head>
<body>Conte
nt
Area</body>
Inline JavaScript will increase page speed, remove external
request to external.js but doing this will also increase page
HTML size. Most search engines preferred to reduce JS file
size as well using JS Compression [21] tool available
online. For performance, include only those JavaScript,
which make too many requests. Another point in handling
of JavaScript is to make JS file asynchronous putting extra
attribute while calling external file. Table 3 has
recommended snippet for asynchronous JS.
Table 3. Asynchronous JS
<script sync src=”example.js”
type=”text/javascript”></script
3.2.2. Minify CSS
Giving exact view of online webpages browser first renders
all CSS information. Search engines allow minified version
of CSS as in case of JS to increase response time.
Recommended snippet is described in Table 4, and inline
CSS is discussed in Table 5.Moreover, according to [25,
26], try to include a critical portion of CSS in the head
section of the web page.
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Table 4. Above the fold CSS
Avoid snippets
<HTML>
<head>
<linkrel=”st
ylesheet
href=”exampl
e.css”>
</head>
<body>Conten
t
Area</body>
Table 5. Inline necessary CSS
Avoid snippets
Recommended snippet
<HTML>
<head>
<link
rel=”stylesh
eet”
href=”exampl
e.css”>
</head>
<body><div
class=”blue”
>Content
Area</div></
body>
<HTML>
<head>
<style>.blue{color
:#cccccc;text-
decoration:underli
ne;}</style>
</head>
<body><div
class=”blue”>Conte
nt
Area</div></body>
3.2.3. Minify HTML
Google and Bing have given lot more importance on HTML
of webpages [26]. For this, they recommend to give cache
version of HTML, while accessing same page again and
again. Lots of recommendations were provided in recent years
to make user happier while searching query in search engine.
Important recommendations are discussed next.
3.2.3.1. Insert Structure Data Markup
Structured data markup is a standard way to annotate content
so machines can understand it. When webpages include
structured data markup, search engines, then use this
information to index SERPs result better. Site can enhance its
search results with:
a) Rich Snippets
b) Breadcrumbs
c) Sitelinks Search Box
A) Rich snippets offer an extra amount of information to
users as well for search engine. For example person searching
for movie (Frozen 2013) in Google will find results as shown
in Figure 2. Users not only get basic movie information, their
interest on that page is also a ranking signal in search engines.
Not all users watching such results in SERP’s, convinces
him/her to visit such pages, which will increase CTR and
bounce rate for that page.
Figure 2. Rich Snippets in SERPs
Google supports Rich Snippets for the following data types
[32]:
Product- Information about a product, including
price, availability and review ratings;
Recipe- Recipes that can be displayed in web
searches and Recipe View.;
Review- A review of an item such as a restaurant,
movie, or store;
Event - An organized event, such as musical concerts
or art festivals, that people may attend at a particular
time and place;
Software Application - Information about a software
application, including its URL, review ratings, and
price.
B) Breadcrumbs are used for easy navigation on websites.
An example of such SERPs is shown in Figure 3. In
Figure 3, three breadcrumbs are: Arts, Books and
Poetry. These breadcrumbs make it easier to navigate
webpages. Google provide complete detail in [10] on
how to implement these snippets in HTML code.
Figure 3. Breadcrumb in SERP’s using Structure data
Markup
C) With Google Sitelinks search box, users can discover
site content more correctly and precisely without
computational overhead [33].For instance, assume a
user needs to discover a feature related to puppies
health on YouTube. User just searched the YouTube
for his query, follow the link to YouTube, and then
actually search for the dog health videos, as shown in
Figure 4.
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Figure 4.Google Site link Searched
3.2.3.2. Optimize Images
On a web page, images are generally responsible for most
of the bytes downloaded [31]. Due to this, image
optimization can offer both performance improvement and
byte savings. If image size is small, then the browser
renders image in less time, enhancing SERPs improvement
for major search engines. Major search engines have forced
webmasters to use vector images, whose quality upon
shrinking or expanding is never disturbed. Other
recommendations include minifying image size using
compression tools available online such as Yahoo Smush
[22]. Google has pointed out all image optimizations
techniques in [23]. Some important recommendations are:
Eliminate unnecessary image resources;
Apply CSS3 effects where possible;
Use web fonts instead of encoding text in images;
Use right image format. Check JPEG, PNG, GIF while
saving image. Moreover, check size and quality of
image and use that image which serves best.
3.2.3.3. Mobile Responsive Sites
In April 2015, Google has given a new signal that is for
mobile responsive sites and will get SEO ranking in SERPs
[34]. The statistics in [7] showed that in America 94% people
with smart phones search for local information on their
phones. Interestingly, these knowledge sources are mostly
accessed at home or form work places [8]. There are many
factors which are to be kept in mind while implementing, such
as:
It is easier to share single link on social media site rather
than duplicate links;
It is easier for Google to redirect traffic to single page
rather than multiple version of website;
Saves resources when Googlebot crawl website;
Google index more website content and keep it
appropriately fresh.
Be sure not to block the crawling of any page (CSS,
JavaScript and images) for any Googlebot using robots.txt
or other methods. Googlebot detects necessary scripts to
provide exact view of website if it is responsive.
3.2.3.4. Browser Caching
When a web program shows a site page, it needs to load a
few things such as logo, CSS document and other different
contents. There is no need to stack already loaded content
again and again. Once it is loaded at user computer, it must
be cached. Google provides changes in code snippets to
overcome such issues to increase server response time as
well.
Each resource should specify an explicit caching policy that
answers the following questions: whether the resource can be
cached and by whom, for how long, and if applicable, how it
can be efficiently revalidated when the caching policy expires.
When the server returns a response it must provide the Cache-
Control and ETag headers [24]:
Cache-Control defines how, and for how long the
individual response can be cached by the browser and
other intermediate caches.
ETag provides a revalidation token that is
automatically sent by the browser to check if the
resource has changed since the last time it was
requested.
3.2.3.5. Reduce Server Response Time
Server response time measures to what extent it takes to
load the fundamental HTML. Server response time must be
less than 200ms. There are many potential elements which
effects server response time that includes:
Slow application logic;
Moderate database questions;
Slow routing;
Structures;
Libraries;
Asset;
CPU starvation;
Memory starvation.
When the issues are determined, try to overcome future
execution bottlenecks.
3.3. Keyword Selection and its Importance in Text
Keywords selection is the most difficult task while making
online business profitable. Picking right phrase for website,
which describes website content, is a challenging task. It is not
about attracting visitors to site rather bringing right visitor to
right site. For example, for an online book store, what will be
the worth of keyword that is chosen for optimization in
SERPs. User can make more sales on history books
purchase online or purchase Science books on low price”.
Well this is confusing. Following factors should be kept in
mind before choosing the keyword:
Does user keyword describe the webpage content?
Or searches find what they are looking to achieve?
Are they happy? Does this search bring any financial
reward?
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Does it increase any bounce rate?
Does it increase CTR?
Does it increase average visit length?
Bringing new idea is not much easier, so if users or web
developers are trying to get good rank in SERPs, for a new
site for which many other sites have already optimized their
content for same keyword, then focus should be on those
keywords which are searched widely. However, most of sites
neglect them to put in their text and title tag. Google Adwords
Keyword [12] planner provides this facility to easily search
keywords for local campaign or internationally whom you are
thinking to target. For example, keywords searched for term
Book” has phrases which were searched in last 12 months are
shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Keyword search using Google Adwords keyword
planner for “Book”
Those keywords should be picked whose competition is
low. Low competition means only few people around the
globe are working on this topic. Keywords with medium
and high competition are not suitable for newly created
websites. For newly create website try to pick long tail
keywords; as long tail keywords, take brief view of our
online book store example, it would be great to rank #1 for
the keyword "buy books".
Keywords with searches more than 5,000 or even a 500
searches per day covers 30% queries, so what left is 70% of
users queries are long tail keywords. The long tail contains
hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be
conducted a few times in any given day. However, when
taken together, it comprises the majority of the search
volume worldwide. Long tail keywords serve better than
single phrase because they catch people later in the
buying/conversion cycle. A person searching for "book" is
probably browsing and not ready to buy. On the other hand,
someone searching for "best book to buy in 2015" will
increase chance to engage that user in website.
Website with domain age less than six months should
follow these guidelines while picking keywords:
A. Pick keywords which are less optimized;
B. Keywords with complete phrase.
A) Keywords which are less optimized can be searched
after putting complete phrase in Google. When query is
searched, Google will show total numbers of web pages
which have same title tag. Figure 6 shows free books
onlineresults.
In Figure 6, 310,000 web pages have title for searched query,
so free books online is not a good keyword to optimize for
web pages whose domain age is less than six months.
Keyword “urdu book free download has 1900 searches from
last twelve months as shown in Figure 7, but online 50 web
pages have title “Urdu book free download” (Figure 8).
Figure 6. Finding less optimized images using allintitle
Figure 7. Less optimized images search e using Google
Adwords keyword planner
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Figure 8. Less optimized keywords checking in Google
Putting such keywords in webpage will direct traffic to web
pages in no time. Once users have chosen keywords for web
pages, then differentiate home page keywords and web pages
keywords according to these roles. Suppose a user or web
developer is creating a website related to mobile phone
specifications and price. Then:
Home cannot be optimized for more than three to four
keywords;
Home page must have keywords which give complete
idea of whole website e.g. (mobile phones specifications,
mobile phone prices);
Category pages have keywords related to brands, e.g if
category page is Nokia mobile phones then keywords
give idea related to that page such as “Nokia mobile
phone prices, Nokia mobile phone specifications”;
Detail page must include keywords related to brand new
model e.g if Nokia launches Nokia C1, then keywords
would be Nokia c1 price, Nokia c1 specifications.
Once users have chosen keywords for whole website, then
they must follow the subsequent.
Keywords must be included above the fold content;
Once primary keyword is placed in text then there is no
need to repeat it again and again;
First paragraph of content must have primary keyword;
Title and meta description of webpage must have
primary keywords;
Link to category and detail pages must have keyword in
URL;
User must include H1,H2,H3 tags in detail and
category pages, which clearly gives idea about primary
and secondary keywords;
Images must have alt tag which must have primary
keyword in it.
4. CONCLUSION
Nowadays, with billions of web pages on Internet, search
engines have made it easier for people to find online
information. Searching for right information through pages
and displaying only the relevant results to the user is a
complex task. In this article, On-page SEO techniques are
discussed that enterprises, web developers and bloggers can
use to increase their site’s visibility in SERP’s. Main focus
is on SEO techniques for getting high ranking in Google
search engine. However, webmasters, bloggers and SEO
persons should keep themselves up to date with frequently
changing ranking algorithms and with the associated
changing practices of search optimization professionals.
Moreover, they need to remain in touch with major search
engines guideline on daily basis.
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