How To Design A Search Engine Friendly Website

There are many websites that fail to target their required traffic, even if they've had some search engine optimisation work done. One of the main causes for this is simply because the website isn't search engine friendly. This is a basic essential that needs to be incorporated into the design of all websites at the outset ? think of it as the foundation to establishing your search engine optimisation strategy.

This article aims to highlight the areas a web designer should think about and incorporate into their design for maximum search engine effectiveness:

1. Search Engine Friendly Pages

It is important that when you design your website you not only bear in mind what your website requirements are, but also what the requirements are for search engines. Best way to approach this is to remember that search engines don't really care about how nice or complicated your graphics or flash movies are, or how snazzy your javascript is. Instead search engines look at the code behind your page. Therefore if you want to impress a search engine, then your code needs to be nice and easy to read. Now from this I don't mean adding 'comment' tags and breaking the lines of code up with spaces, but to ensure that the elements the search engine is interested in, i.e. Title tag, Description tag, Keyword tag (these days only some search engines really use the keyword tag), Alt tag, are readable near the beginning of the code. Search Engines don't like wadding through lines and lines of javascript to get to the core areas that can help you page's ranking. Therefore careful planning and positioning of your page elements is required.

TIPS:
- If you're using table for laying out your page then make them simple and not too complex.
- Avoid using frames.
- If you need javascripts for navigation purposes, then use smaller scripts to call up the bulk of the javascript from a different file.
- Think twice on how to use graphics ? make them relevant to your content and use the Alt tag for all images.
- Position the main content of the page before the images, or at least with the images nested between the text.

2. Keywords

Having good keywords is one of the most important areas to consider when designing a website/webpage.

One of the best tools for this is Wordtracker (www.wordtracker.com), which allows you to identify good competitive keywords for your pages.

In general the range of keywords associated to your pages can be very extensive therefore for good concentration and prominence of keywords it is advisable to carefully select the top 10-15 keywords. You can always export the results to Excel and try out other competitive keywords if the ones you selected initially do not produce any noticeable benefits.

TOP TIP:
Wordtracker offer a one day subscription to their service from which you can squeeze nearly 2 ? days worth of use! Here's how ? Sign-up for the service on the evening of Day 1 (the service will be available almost immediately so you can start searching for your competitive keywords straight away). You will also be able to use the service for the whole of Day 2 and strangely for the whole of Day 3! Enough time to get some good keywords for a lot of pages!

3. Content

Many search engines look at the main body of the page and identify keywords and phrases that are used within the text.

TIP:
Use competitive keywords relevant to the purpose of the page within the main body of the page. Always try and ensure that the keywords are prominent within the text body, i.e. they appear near the beginning of the page, they are defined using the 'heading' tag, they are typefaced in bold, or they are used as hyperlinks.

4. Page Title

This is arguably one of the most important areas of a page and needs special attention to ensure that a good title is selected. Similar to many other areas of designing a search engine friendly page, the Page Title should also have a good keyword which describes the page content. To keep within the limits of many search engines the number of words for the Title shouldn't exceed nine.

5. Page Description

Another important area to work on for good ranking is the Page Description. This is the text found under the META Description tag and is displayed to users in the search results. Again, it is a good idea to pay attention to the use of good keywords when writing the description, which should be short (not more than 20-25 words) and sells your page before the user has even opened it!

6. Graphics

We've covered the use of graphics briefly above, emphasising the importance of using an Alt tag containing the relevant keyword(s). Although the use of images can be nice and very appealing to a website, it is also important to bear in mind that they shouldn't overpower the textual content of your page. As a general rule of thumb it is best to stick to a 70/30 ratio (70 text/30 images).

7. Site Map

A Site Map is a fantastic way for search engines to find all your juicy pages on your website. There are many free Site Map tools available on the web that'll create your site map instantly.

8. Navigation Links

Navigation links to other pages on your website should be nice and easy. There are some engines which find it difficult to navigate through to the other pages on your website if the nav bar is too complicated, e.g. complicated pop-ups, use of flash, etc. Therefore if your site does have complicated navigation then it's always a good idea to implement simple text based hyperlinks to your common pages at the bottom of every page on your website.

Following the basic suggestions above will help lay the foundation to apply further good search engine optimisation advice which will make the difference in your overall search engine ranking.

This finer area of SEO is beyond the realm of this document and will require further investment based on individual needs.

Arif Hanid
Internet Marketing Manager for Ambleton Computing.
Professionals in bespoke Internet Developement and Marketing.

[email protected]
www.ambleton.co.uk

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