Internal factors of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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How high your website comes up in the search engine results page is determined by many factors. Some of which are external such as how many people are linking to you and from whom. And other factors are internal, such as the structure of your webpages, what tags you are using, whether you content contains keywords, etc.

In this article, we are mainly focused on the internal factors that affect your search engine ranking — also known as “on-page SEO”. Next article will go into the external factors.

We start by listing some general articles to give you an overview of these internal factors that affect SEO and then we provide more references to the details of each of these factors.

General Articles

10 SEO Rules for Designers
On Page SEO Techniques

title Tag

One of the more important internal factors for SEO is what you place for the title tag for your pages. Typically, for the title tag, you should have the website name and a tagline containing the keywords you want to optimize for. Ideally, you do not want the title tag to be the same for every single page on your site. Instead, you want your title tag to be customized with the keywords that is relevant to the content of the particular page.

Preferably put the keywords at the front of the title if possible; they have greater weight there.  And do not make your title too long; it dilutes the weight of the keywords.

h1 and h2 tags

The HTML “h1” tag represents “heading level 1”. Text within that tag can weighted more by search engines. Make sure you give good descriptive titles wrapped within your “h1” tags. Use only one h1 tag on a page.  Other secondary heading, use “h2” tags (which you can have multiple of them on a page).

alt Attributes

Use the “alt” attributes on your image tags. Search engines can not “see” your images, but it can and will read the text in your “alt” attribute and the image filenames.
So instead of …

<img src=”seascape.jpg”>

you should put …

<img src=”mexico-coast-seascape.jpg” alt=”Seascape of the Mexico Coast”>

Notice that we also gave it a more descriptive filename and have added the “alt” attribute.

Some people use the “title” attribute in an anchor tag as well.  As in …

<a href=”/mexico-coast.html” title=”Larger image of Mexico Coast Seascape”><img src=”mexico-coast-seascape.jpg” alt=”Seascape of the Mexico Coast”></a>

But unless it adds to an user usability, it has little or no weight in SEO.


Just as search engine can read the filenames of your images, it will also read the filename of your HTML file, or more specifically look at the words in your domain name and URL. If possible, name your HTML filenames and directory with descriptive names containing your keywords that you want search engines to find you. Many content management system allow you to rename your URLs to be what are known as search engine friendly URLs.

strong tag

Bolding certain keywords and text will indicate to search engines that those text are higher in importance.  But do not over do it.

Outbound Linking

Link to relevant sites or pages and give descriptive text for your links. Instead of a link saying “click here”, use a link such as “More info on Mexico resorts”.

Internal Linking

If you have a site with a lot of content, don’t forget to link to your own pages.  It counts.   This is known as “internal linking”. In fact, Barrie North, author of  Joomla! A User’s Guide says on page 208, “Almost as useful as the holy grail of external links is internal links — and certainly a lot easier to implement. Who knew?! This is easily the most underrated criteria”.

Here when he said “external links”, he was referring to other websites linking to your website (which we will talk more about in the SEO external factors under the section “incoming links”).

Clean Code

Clean simple code (preferably tableless layout instead of table-based) will generally give you a lower code to content ratio. The less code and more text content, the better.

Keyword Meta Tag

The content of this tag is not displayed publicly on the page.  And it is not looked at by Google.  So don’t worry about it.