Sunday, November 26, 2006

Designing a Search Engine Friendly Website

Designing a Search Engine Friendly Website
by: Wendy Suto

Ultimately, the Internet users are the people who are going to purchase your products and services, not the search engines. This is typically where the problem initially lies, because online visitors will not be able to find your Website if it is not constructed with both the visitors and the search engines in mind. Just because you may have spent thousands of dollars to have a beautifully designed Website, does not mean it will automatically generate lots of online visitors and become profitable.

In other words, a search engine friendly Website is first and foremost user-friendly, designed and written for your human visitors first (primary audience). Then the site can be tweaked so that is can be easily indexed by the search engines (secondary audience). The phrase "search engine friendly Website” means that the Website programmer is following the rules set forth by the search engines, in order for high keyword rankings to be achieved.

Here are a few highly effective strategies for designing a search engine friendly Website:

1. Keep HTML code and the Website simple and easy to navigate.

Try to create Websites that are basic .html or .htm page files, without using any type of JavaScript or other dynamic design styles. Javascript creates a lot of code between the header tags, pushing down the text that search engines would crawl first. Placing the script code in an external file reduces the code to just one line.

2. Reduce image sizes.

Too many images or very large images on your Web page will slow down the loading time of your Website. Make sure your images have a resolution of 72dpi. You can also slice large images into smaller pieces with your graphics editor.

3. Allow search engine spiders to find important Web pages from any page.

Place text links of your main Web pages at the bottom of each of your Web pages, so spiders can find your inside pages. Create a Site Map page with all of your Web pages listed on one page, and link to it from your homepage. You can also create a Google Sitemap .xml file using the Google Sitemaps program, so Google’s crawlers can find all of your Web pages easier.

4. Try not to use cookies on your Website.

Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs or arguments that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in your Website not being indexed at all. Another thing that will stop search engines from finding the sub pages of your site is requiring cookies. Sure cookies and/or session ids may be necessary to track visitor activity, but you can make an exception for search engines. Search engine crawlers do not like cookies. Don't require them to accept them or they will simply leave.

5. Do not use frames anywhere on your Website.

This is an HTML tag created that allows designers to display two or more Web pages at the same time. The perception is that frames can improve Website navigation, but they are browser-dependant and do not create search engine friendly Websites. Most search engines do not index framed pages. Frames only allow search engine crawlers to see 1 Webpage, when there is actually 20 Web pages on a site.

6. Do not place your Website entirely in flash.

Search engines cannot “read” Websites built as Flash movies. They cannot read text in a movie file, and also only recognize a 20-page Website for example as only 1 Web page. It is best to create separate HTML page files for your photos, graphics and content, in order to have a search engine friendly Website.

7. Write content on each Web page.

Write a summary paragraph of at least 250 - 500 words of text for the top of each web page. Weave your keywords within this text being careful not have them so close together that your copy reads strange for your visitors. Aim to please the search engines as well as your Website visitors.

8. Do not create doorway pages.

Doorway, or gateway pages, means a "fake" Web page is created to rank well for a selected keyword term and redirects Website visitors to another, "actual" page on a company’s Website. Doorway pages are those generated automatically from a template and is considered spam and penalized by the majority of search engines.

About The Author
Wendy Suto is president and CEO of Search Circus, Inc., in Cleveland, Ohio. She keeps pace with the latest optimization, link building and article submission tactics. As a certified search engine optimization consultant, she teaches SEO classes throughout Cleveland, Ohio.

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