Learning HTML code is not for everyone. Many lawyers should not spend their time learning how to write website software code. But for the tech-savvy, DIYers, and the adventurous, learning some basic HTML can be very valuable as a way to refine and experiment with your online marketing.

Do you know how many of your law firm’s web pages use a descriptive title tag? Have you implemented descriptive meta tags and heading tags? While you should always be focused on your site’s users, minding your HTML tags is an important piece of the “getting found” puzzle.

While I don’t suspect that most lawyers have the time or interest in learning all of HTML, there are some basics that are critical to online marketing:

The Web Developer's SEO Cheat Sheet by Danny Dover

The reason that these tags are so important? They are used in Google’s secret sauce to rank web pages. To what degree they matter is the subject of great debate. In my view, their importance varies with the degree of competition of the keyword. In other words, the more competitive the keyword, the less influence these on-page HTML factors have.

Title tag

The title tag is the most important of the on-page factors. It’s the tag that is used to produce the text at the very top of your web browser and in the tab of your tabbed-browsing window. Search engines put a relatively great amount of emphasis on this tag. Like all on-page factors, you want your title to be relevant to your page and include target keywords. However, you don’t want “stuff” keywords in your title. The best advice is to title your page for readers, but keep search engines in mind.

Heading Tags

Heading tags can be used in different orders of priority. Their priority is based on the number following the “h”. For example, an “h1” has a higher priority than an “h2”. As a general guideline, you should limit your use of “h1” tags to one per page, and decrease priority from top to bottom (i.e. h1’s higher on the page than h2’s and so forth).

Strong Tag

Bold and strong tags are also thought to contribute to a page’s relevance for a particular keyword. Again, don’t go “bold nuts”. Use bold and strong tags where appropriate.

Image Tag

Proper use of image tags is commonly overlooked. While the significance of these tags is certainly less than the title tag, their importance is likely much greater than many optimizers think. Be mindful of what you name images, as well as, what you use for your “alt” text.

Hyperlink Tag

The hyperlink tag is the backbone of the internet. It’s the tag used to link web pages. Optimizing the link URL, title, and anchor text of both your on-page and off-page links (or backlinks), is probably the most important component of improving your site’s search engine visibility.

No Follow

While “rel=nofollow” isn’t technically an html tag, it is a very important factor when it comes to getting found. Hyperlinks with rel=”nofollow” attribute do not influence the link target’s PageRank.

While using these tags won’t turn on the floodgates to more traffic to your site, failing to use them properly may be a huge hindrance on your web marketing efforts. Think of these on-page optimizations as the building blocks for a strong online foundation. Once you get these down, ther next step is building links.