Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide

The importance of SEO to Dell

Search is crucial for Dell’s online business. Search influences over a third of Dell’s online revenues with strong year-over-year growth.

The three types of searches that are important to Dell include:

  • Paid Search

    • ODG teams identify & bid on keywords to drive traffic to Dell via the PPC model.
    • Dell controls placement & spend.
    • ODG teams focus on optimizing ROI.
    • 30% of searchers click on paid search.
  • Natural Search

    • Make site search engine “crawler-friendly”, optimize content, linking, and popularity.
    • Results based on specific search engine algorithms.
    • Content owners need to optimize local keywords & build links.
    • 70% of searchers click on “more trustworthy” natural links.
  • Site Search

    • Optimizing content for indexing & retrieval through Dell’s internal search engine.
    • We can control algorithm & related features.
    • Content owners need to optimize local keywords.

How people look at search engine results

People tend to scan—not read—online content.

Matching keywords are visually emphasized (often bolded) on search engine results pages.

Results that grab attention include:

  • Those that match the queried terms.
  • Those that are well written & easily skimmed.

Therefore, take care to write titles and meta descriptions with common words and phrases.

The top search engine ranks get clicks

Top rankings are crucial because searches tend to view only the first page and click one of the top 3 results.

People predominantly scan only the beginnings of results. However, searchers often view beyond this “Golden Triangle” when presented with “richer” results beyond simple links to webpages.

NOTE: In the accompanying visual heat map image, the red areas represent the most looked at content and the purple X’s represent the clicks.

Blended results provide new ranking opportunities

There are now opportunities to have different types of content in results. Major search engines now display blended (universal) results, often including:

  • PDFs
  • Images
  • Videos
  • News
  • Social Media Feeds

Blended results present many new opportunities for Dell owned or influenced content to be on the first page of rankings. Therefore, optimize all digital assets to include:

  • On-page assets that might be shared.
  • Off-page social media, sharing and networking sites.

Also use commonly searched terms throughout:

  • Tweets
  • Facebook updates
  • File names
  • Alt text
  • Titles and tags of images, videos and PDFs

Factors that influence search engine rankings

Over 200 signals are used by search engines like Google to judge the rankings of results. Some of the most impactful are:

Some of the most impactful signals include:

  • On-Page Factors: Each webpage’s source code may be crawled and indexed by a search engine. Search engines take note of the keywords used in:

    • URLs
    • Titles and headers
    • Body content
    • Image, video, PDF & Flash filenames
    • Image alt text
  • Off-Page Factors:

    • Internal Links – from main category pages or internal blogs.
    • External Links – from partners, syndicated press releases, social media and community (e.g. blogs, Facebook & Tweets).
    • Page load speed – slowness provides a poor customer experience, so may cause drop in rankings. Tip: ensure images are Web-optimized
    • Fresh content & links – regularly updated content may boost rankings. Tip: ensure the alt text of banner ads are updated every time the banner is updated.

Search engine best practices

Summary overview
Element
Search Engine Purpose
Guidelines
Primary Targeted Keywords
Match most search queries.
1-3 most commonly & locally searched terms/phrases descriptive of pageUse everywhere—from Titles, Headers & Content through to URLs, image Alt Text & Filenames.
Secondary Supporting Keywords
Match more search queries.
Supplement primary keywords w/ common synonyms, spelling variations, acronyms & EN for non-EN sitesCan include “long-tail” phrases.
Browser Title
Heavily weighted; is search engine results page link & in browser frame.
Max. 55 char., no symbols or slashes & unique to a page (30 for CN). Use page’s 1-3 primary keywords towards front; don’t stuff. Clearly & succinctly descriptive of product or key customer benefit (e.g. “durable”, “lightweight”).
Page Title <h1>
Weighted by search engines.
Ensure same or similar to Browser Title (popular keyword variation beneficial).
Headings <h2/3>
Weighted by search engines.
Ensure keyword-rich, descriptive of subsections.
Meta Description <meta name= “description”…>
Keyword-rich blurb describing page; displayed in search engine results page to compel a click-thru.
Min. 50 char., max. 155 (100 for CN). 1-2 easy to scan sentence(s) that compellingly describe(s) page. Include within first 65 char. page’s 1-3 primary keywords & purchase-related call-to-action. Unique per page.
Body Content
Search engines judge page content for quality, value & relevance to search queries.
Primary & secondary keywords throughout—no spam. One focused topic/page, no duplicated content & at least 200 words long. Contain a call to action along a learn, purchase or support path. Ensure key messages & links can be indexed (not embedded in images, video, Flash or image PDFs). Keywords in emphasized text like bolding & bulleted/numbered lists.
Links
Pass “link equity” to boost rankings.
Only include useful links (not too many or too few); avoid unnecessary repetition. Place within paragraphs of text; don’t use JavaScript or bury in Flash.
Link Anchor Text
Heavily weighted, clickable text displayed as the link.
2-4 word phrase descriptive of linked-to page; select words from destination’s Browser Title. Should not be generic (don’t use “click here” or “more info”); some variation permissible & beneficial to same page.
Image Alt Text
Search engines read & index.
Accurately describe image w/ targeted keywords, unique to image (“Dell” not necessary). Don’t stuff w/ keywords or copy & paste entire sentences unnecessarily; use full message of banners if image is used as a link, use Link Anchor Text guidelines, reference accessibility guidelines.
Filenames
Search engines read & index.
Make keyword-rich, lowercase characters, separated by hyphens (not underscores). Don’t stuff with unnecessary words, product images, banners, content teasers. Example: productcategory-brandname-uniquemodelnumber-dimension.png (don’t add “Dell”, don’t add confidential product code names).
Images, PDFs, Video
Accentuates page & additional ranking opportunities.
Search engine benefit if contextually placed & descriptive filenames & related text. Ensure images are formatted for Web use.
URL
Search engines read & index.
Use primary keywords w/ hyphen separators (no symbols—use only letters & numbers).
JavaScript, AJAX & Flash
Cannot be crawled.
For content that should be indexed, provide alternative crawlable content & links.
Meta Keywords
Negligible value.
Of very little weighting; add primary keywords & variations (valuable for audits).
The five key points

Search engine best practices are also good for the customer experience. Easy to read = easy to index.

Whether you are creating a new page or editing an existing one, remember these five key points:

  • Use your audience’s language.

    • Use simple, everyday language aligned to search intent.
    • If we don’t use the terms and phrases our customers search for, they won’t find our content (localize!).
    • Avoid unpopular internal Dell acronyms and jargon.
  • Write for people, not bots.

    • Write naturally, not forced—don’t spam.
    • Focus on readability and marketability.
  • Be unique.

    • Keep titles, descriptions and content unique per page.
    • Duplicated content hampers search engine indexing and creates a poor customer experience.
  • Be focused.

    • Tightly focused content better enables search engines to match pages to search queries.
  • Be indexable.

    • Ensure key messages can be crawled as basic HTML.
    • Content embedded in images, videos, AJAX & Flash generally won’t be indexed. If necessary, use an alternative crawlable path.
Landing pages

Not all pages are suitable landing pages from a search engine perspective. The best ones are:

  • Useful and relevant to queried terms.

  • Focused to a topic.

  • Built around a search intent:

    • Calling out clear customer benefits.
    • Featuring a prominent call to action.
    • With an obvious learn, purchase or support navigation path.

Successful landing pages also have:

  • Low bounce rates.

  • High conversation rates with clicks to a store/purchase path, subscriptions, PDF downloads, and chat.

Primary targeted keywords

Purpose:

  • To align keywords on landing pages with searcher queries.

  • For a given topic, both most descriptive and commonly searched for terms.

  • To localize by region/language.

  • Used to populate all on-page/search engine results page elements, as well as "hidden" elements.

Benefit:

  • Aligning regional content with local target audience’s queried terms improves relevance through:

    • Better indexing and search engine results page ranking.
    • Driving more NS traffic and revenue.

Guidelines:

  • Each page should be built around 1-3 common, locally searched terms or phrases that are most descriptive of the topic (generic and/or branded).

  • Avoid diluting rankings by overlapping primary keywords across many pages.

  • Optimize for most common word forms and spellings while occasionally using other forms.

Keyword research tools

Take the guesswork out of keyword research. Use online keyword research tools to discover and rank the most frequently used terms and phrases by local region and language.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

  • Compare search volumes.
  • Discover related words/phrases.
  • Filter by language and country.

Google Trends

  • Compare relative popularity of two or more terms through time.
  • Filter by country and region.
Secondary supporting keywords

Purpose: Reach a wider search audience beyond the primary keywords with term and phrase variations.

  • Synonyms
  • Acronyms and contractions
  • English terms on non-English sites

Benefit: Reinforces theme of pages and can provide ...

  • More indexing and ranking opportunities.
  • More NS traffic and revenue.
Browser titles

Purpose:

  • Used as search engine results page title link.

  • Heavily weighted by search engines.

  • <title> in source code’s meta section.

  • Automatically appended with “| Dell [+ country]”.

Benefit:

  • Provides the first impression to a searcher on a search engine results page.

  • Titles with the highest click-through rates are:

    • Easy to scan.
    • Rich with keywords matching the most commonly searched terms.

Guidelines:

  • Use page’s 1-3 primary keywords towards front.

  • Maximum 55 characters long (including spaces).

  • Ensure the title is unique to a page.

  • Clearly and succinctly describe product, service, topic or key customer benefit (e.g. “durable”, “lightweight”).

  • Standard title capitalization.

  • No symbols or slashes.

  • Avoid keyword stuffing (this may dilute the weighting of key terms).

  • Match inbound anchor text links.

Page title (top header - h1)

Purpose:

  • Prominently displayed on each page.
  • <h1> in source code’s meta section.

Benefit:

  • Assures customers they have landed on a relevant page.
  • Highly factored into search engine algorithms.

Guidelines: Adhere to the browser title guidelines, with the following exceptions ...

  • The browser title can be overridden in order to add different words and terms.
  • Don’t necessarily need to include “Dell”.
Heading tabs (subheads - h2 & h3)

Purpose:

  • Headings are like a table of contents guiding visitors and search engines.
  • <h2> & <h3> in source code’s meta section.

Benefit:

  • Improved indexing because search engines significantly weigh these headers.

Guidelines:

  • Headers should be keyword-rich, descriptive of the page or section, or call out a key customer benefit.
Meta descriptions

Purpose:

  • 1-2 sentences describing the page.
  • Displayed below Search Engine Results Page title link if “sufficiently relevant” (i.e. contains queried terms).
  • Compels a click-through.
  • <Meta = “description”> in source code’s meta section

Benefit:

  • When keywords matching queried terms are emphasized they grab searcher’s attention.
  • Compelling, well written and relevant descriptions increase the click-through rate.
  • More NS traffic and revenue.

Structure/Guidelines:

  • Min. 50 char.; max. 155 (100 for in CN)

    • Ignored by Google if too short.
    • Truncated if longer.
  • 1-2 easy to scan sentence(s).

  • Within first 65 char. include:

    • Page’s 1-3 primary keywords.
    • Search intent call-to-action. This should be:

      • Unique to a page.
      • Clearly and succinctly descriptive of product/key customer benefit.
      • Only letters or words and standard punctuation; no symbols.
Body content

Purpose:

  • For target audience, tailor content along a purchase, learn or support path.
  • Properly formatted images, Flash, video and PDFs reinforce a page’s theme.
  • Search Engines are limited in how they crawl the web and interpret content to retrieve and display in results (basic HTML links & text is easiest to index), but will index keywords found in source code.

Benefit:

  • Search engines judge page content for quality, value and relevance to search queries.
  • Where objects are on a page may improve indexing.
  • Optimized content ensures:

    • Proper indexing and high ranking.
    • High click-through rate.
    • High CR/low bounce rate.

Guidelines:

  • Written text:

    • At least 200 words (basic HTML).
    • Important and supporting keywords.
    • Add long-tail phrases.
    • One topic per page.
    • One idea per paragraph.
    • Unique—no duplication.
    • Useful and relevant—no spam.
  • Build around search intent:

    • Clear customer benefits.
    • Prominent call to action.
    • Obvious learn, purchase or support navigation path.
  • Emphasize important keywords through:

    • Bolding
    • Titles and headers
    • Bulleted/numbered lists
  • Key messages must be in HTML text to be listed by search engines because images, Flash files, Java applets and other non-text content are virtually invisible to search engines except for filenames and alt text.

  • To get key messages indexed for images, videos, PDFs, Flash and links, ensure:

    • Contextual placement. Where on a page is as important as what.
    • Key messages are crawlable and navigable. If embedded (hidden to a search engine) replicate in parallel basic HTML text.
Images

Purpose:

  • Images can be assigned ”alt attributes” in HTML, providing Search Engines a text description of the visual content.
  • Adhere to web usability requirements.

Benefit:

  • Reinforces text if the image is contextually placed and descriptive.
  • Facilitates indexing for search engine “blended results” and vertical image search (e.g. Google Image Search).
  • Note: the alt text of images used as links is considered Link Anchor Text (use those guidelines).

Guidelines:

  • Accurately describe image with targeted keywords.
  • Alt text should be unique to the image.
  • Don’t stuff with keywords or copy and paste entire sentences unnecessarily.
  • Use full message of banners.
  • No need to add “Dell” unless part of brand name.
  • If image is a link, use Link Anchor Text guidelines.
  • When referring to products, always use the full product name: Brand + Model # + Category
Link building

Why build links?

  • Links bring customers.
  • Search engines judge how important a page is by examining links to it.
  • Authoritative quality links are worth the most.
  • Inbound links are crucial to high rankings.

Guidelines:

  • Only include useful links.
  • Include only a few links – don’t overwhelm.
  • No need to repeat the same link on the same page.
  • Link to the most relevant page:

    • On-topic and supportive.
    • Within a learn, purchase or support path.
    • With a call-to-action.
    • Links in the first sentence/paragraph have the greatest SEO value.
  • Best to link to a permanent URL.
  • Links inserted into paragraphs have more SEO value than link lists (2 or 3 per page is okay).
Anchor link text

Purpose:

Benefit: Good anchor link text will provide ...

  • Proper indexing and high ranking.
  • High CTR & CR/low bounce rate.

Guidelines:

  • 2-4 word phrase descriptive of destination page.
  • Select words from destination’s browser title (or at least a term or phrase found on the destination page).
  • Specific, not generic. "View all Laptops" instead of "click here”.
  • Don’t use symbols (e.g. "TM", "©", "®").

Structure and Examples:

  • Brand Pages: Brand + [Brand Qualifier] Category [plural]. Example: "Acme Lightweight Laptops".
  • Product Details: Brand + Model # + Category [singular]. Example: "Inspiron 14R Laptop".
  • Learn Path: Terms from Destination’s Browser Title. Example: "Android-Based Mini 3 Smartphone".
Request links to boost rankings

To boost search engine rankings of pages, prompt stakeholders and partners to link to your pages through:

  • Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Social bookmarking, such as Stumbleupon & Delicious
  • Business partner sites (just ask!)
  • Press releases

Include in your request:

  • Destination URL.
  • Link anchor text. Ensure it's properly descriptive and select words from the browser title.

For new or updated pages, one of the fastest ways to get the new pages noticed by customers as well as search engines is to Tweet about it. Leverage business unit Social Media & Community representatives.

PDFs

Purpose:

  • Provides supplementary info in a shareable format.

Benefit:

  • On-topic PDFs reinforce a page.

Guidelines:

  • Place on relevant pages.
  • Save as text-based.
  • Similar optimization to Webpages; use keywords throughout ...

    • Title & header tags.
    • Text captions for images.
    • Descriptive Filename & Link Anchor Text, using terms likely to be searched for (e.g. “manual”, “whitepaper”).
  • First page should include keyword-rich heading & abstraction that summarizes document.
  • Avoid a nearly blank Title Page or sparse Table of Contents.
JavaScript

Search engines cannot crawl JavaScript. Avoid using it for content that should be indexed.

For JavaScript links to content that should be indexed, you must provide alternative basic HTML links to content, including pop-up windows.

Flash & AJAX

Search engines generally cannot view or navigate Flash and AJAX content or links.

If AJAX or Flash must be used, provide alternative basic HTML content that is crawlable, along with navigational links.

For Flash, populate below search engine indexable fields (displayed if Flash cannot load):

  • Use descriptive keywords in title and ample description fields.
  • For description, consider a compelling, soft call to action.
  • Set display to false to prevent text from being displayed. For example:

    • <xdb:flashseotitle> Dell Brand Model Category </xdb:flashseotitle> <xdb:flashseodescription> Customize your new Dell Brand Model Category </xdb:flashseodescription> <xdb:flashseodisplay> false </xdb:flashseodisplay>
Common guidelines across all elements

All search elements should:

  • Front load search elements with page’s primary keywords.
  • Use popular terms and variations; no uncommon internal Dell acronyms and jargon.
  • Be easy to scan/read.
  • Be unique to each element.
  • Not use symbols (e.g. TM, ©, ®) except for the first instance in content (as per legal, symbols only required after the first non-titular usage of a legally protected term in main content).
  • Not include “Dell” with every mention of brand or system name unless part of brand name (e.g. “Dell Precision”, “Dell Studio”).

Write for your target audience:

  • Describe key benefits in customer-centric terms (e.g. “lightweight” or “portable” qualifies dimension & weight more than “small form factor”).
  • Use the most commonly searched terms for each local market. Note variations like ...

    • Regional language variation:

      • Spain= “portátiles”
      • Mexico = “laptops”
      • Argentina = “notebooks”
    • Colloquialism vs. dictionary:

      • Germany = “beamer” vs. “projektor”
    • EN often in non-EN markets:

      • Japan = EN “laptop” & “PC” are okay
Coding/scripting

Search engines are able to read all source code.

Text-to-code ratio should be at a minimum 25-42% (higher = better).

Put scripts and related code at end of source code.

Remove/minimize unnecessary code and tags (e.g. comment tags).

URLs

Use primary keywords.

Separate with hyphens.

Only ASCII letters or numbers.

Breadcrumbs

Automatically displayed (pulled from category tree and structure file).

Must use primary targeted keywords of a page.

HTML & XML sitemaps

Add key links for search engines to crawl.

Meta keywords

Of very little weighting; can ignore with impunity.

Minimally important for site search (e.g. for S&P products).

Potentially can add primary keywords (for audit purposes).

Page load speed

Search engines may downgrade rankings of slow pages due to poor customer experience and high bounce rate.

Maintain reasonable page sizes by:

  • Formatting images for web use.
  • Trimming unnecessary code.