As mentioned before, there are many, many opinions on best practices.
We have always focused on UNIQUE content, relevant and descriptive page titles, and meta descriptions. One of the big divides in opinions is WHO to design your website for. Search Engines? Or potential customers?
We firmly believe that you should design and structure your website to appeal to PEOPLE while observing the do's and don'ts set out by Google. (Much of that can be found in Google's SEO Starter Guide). Here are a few exerpts:
"Even though the guide's title contains the words "search engine", we'd like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your site."
Indicate page titles by using title tags
A title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is. The <title> tag should be placed within the <head> tag of the HTML document (1). Ideally, you should create a unique title for each page on your site.
- Make use of the "description" meta tag
A page's description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page's title may be a few words or a phrase, a page's description meta tag allows up to 160 characters - enough for a short paragraph.
- Improve the structure of your URLs
Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website can not only help you keep your site better organized, but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines. - As a side note, this is a good idea in terms of helping vision impaired visitors with screen readers as well.
Create a simple directory structure
Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and makes it easy for visitors to know where they're at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
Provide one version of a URL to reach a document
To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages.
- Make use of image tags
Provide a description of your image by using alt and title tags.