Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Advanced Techniques

By Curtis Dicken

The H factor in depth

In a previous article I discussed how <H1> tags can be used by search engines to determine what keywords should carry more weight. I just want to clarify that it is not just the <H1> tag that some search engines examine, it is all the headline tags from 1 to 6 with the lower numbers being given more weight than the higher numbers. Now, there is a great deal of debate on how much the use of headline tags makes a difference. Some say it's just a giant waste of time but there is one important factor to consider, Google handles 60%+ searches on the internet and they include headline tags in their SEO Guide. So, if Google considers it important enough to include in their guide it might be worth consideration.

Keep up your image

Don't forget to use the "alt" (alternate text) element in all your image tags, especially if the image is a link. Like avoiding using hyperlinks that simple say "click here", search engines also consider the alternate text of images when ranking keywords. That means you should always use the "alt" element for all of you images and include your primary keywords every that it makes sense. Looking for some validation

I've read several "experts" arguments over whether all web pages should comply with HTML and other standards set forth by the W3C. As far as search engine optimization is concerned, I don't think W3C validated pages with the validation button link on them carry any more weight than pages without the validation link. As long as your web pages can be read by a web crawler it probably doesn't matter if your HTML is 100% compliant. However, if you are inclined to assure all of your pages are W3C compliant it certainly won't hurt. If you are curious as to whether your pages are compliant you can always use the W3C online validation tool.

Speaking robot

Up to now we have focused on how to get search engine to pay attention to content and keywords. However, it is also sometimes necessary to get them to ignore some content. Some search engines like Google use the robots.txt file to determine what directories they should crawl and which ones to skip. Robot files are very simply text files, usually with only a few lines to them. An example of a robots.txt file could look something like:

  User-agent: *
  Disallow: /Schedules/
  Disallow: /WeeklyEmployeeSchedule.html
  User-Agent: Googlebot
  Disallow: /Employee*/

Above are some of the more basic definitions that should cover you for most situations. The "User-agent" lets the bots know what parts they should pay attention to. In our example the first "User-agent" uses the * wildcard which simply means "this applies to all bots". Our second "User- agent" specifies a particular bot, in our case Google, which will cause only the Google bot to follow the instructions below the "User-agent" definition.

The "Disallow" tells the bots to ignore whatever you define. In the example above we disallow the Schedules directory, the WeeklyEmployeeSchedule.html page and every directory that begins with "Employee". Of course, there are more options than I cover here but these should cover most of your needs. If you need more information on other options you can visit the Google page on creating a robots.txt file.

Once you have your file complete all you need to do is name it rebots.txt and upload it to the root directory of your website. The bots will know where to find it.

Stop following me

There is also one additional tool at your disposal for keeping search engines away from places that you don't want them to visit - nofollow. You can use "nofollow" at both link and page level to let search engines know that a particular link or all of the links on a page are not endorsed by your website and should not be followed. This is particularly useful if you have a website that allows the visitors to post links in a forum, for example. This will help insulate you and your website's reputation from being tied to known spamming sites or sites with a "bad" reputation. There are two examples for you below. The first is an example of a page level "nofollow" that tells the search engines not to follow any links on the page and the second is a link level "nofollow".

Page level:
<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">
Link level:
<a href="" 
rel="nofollow">spam link</a>

Note: Neither "nofollow" nor robots.txt should be used to secure pages that contain sensitive information. Pages with sensitive information should always be protected with more secure methods.


Search engine optimization is more than just getting noticed. It is a delicate balance of getting noticed, protecting your website's reputation and making it easy for visitors and search engines alike to navigate your website. I truly hope this series of articles has helped you come up with a plan to improve your websites rank and reputation. Good luck in all your SEO efforts!

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