Once you have chosen a set of appropriate keywords for use in your site, it is time to consider the next two steps: creating a search engine friendly web design and integrating appropriate content with your keywords into your site. It is easy to let the tail wag the dog when it comes to keyword analysis, web design and content. Pages and pages of website content are written with the sole purpose of attracting the attention of the search engines and achieving a higher ranking. Writers force keywords into their content like ornaments on a gaudy Christmas tree, sacrificing the readability of their text for real humans. Misguided “experts” design web sites that are more friendly to search engines than to human viewers. In reality, however, these practices are neither necessary nor desirable.
First and foremost, your web site should be designed for the human beings viewing it, getting information and making transactions. Search engine marketing is a secondary consideration.
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With that said, however, it is possible to optimize a site’s architecture and its infrastructure formatted in such a way as to facilitate ranking well in search engine results. Here is a list of important considerations for the plumbing and wiring of your website to make it as search engine friendly as possible.
- Use text – search engines cannot read graphics or Flash. Therefore, make use of the “alt” tag and name your images with names suggestive of your site’s topic;
- Use good HTML code – search engine spiders depend on good links and code to move around your site, just as humans do. Validate your code.
- Provide a sitemap, linked from your home page. Again, this permits the spider to easily navigate your site.
- Relevant Title Tags are important. This is the title you see at the top of your browser. This should be relevant to that page’s topic and content. Look at the title for this page in the uppermost bar of your browser as an example.
- Optimize Page URLs – again, use a text-based page URL with optimized text, not a number or cryptic database query strings or session variables. Search engines read and index text. Look at the URL for this page as an example.
- Optimize your Description Meta Tags – the Description Meta tag is still important to most search engines. The “Keyword” meta tag, however, has largely fallen out of use by search engines.
With the above infrastructure in place, the content you add to your site will be easier for the search engines to index. If you are using a web developer to assist you with your site, make sure to have a search engine discussion. You want a developer that is cognizant of the need to be search engine friendly but unwilling to sacrifice the user experience. Finally, ensure that your developer uses only “white hat” or legitimate search engine techniques in the crafting of your site. Trying to fool the search engines can result in a black-listing of your site!