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How to Make Your Website SEO Friendly

Monday, January 23, 2012

SEO is an acronym for "search engine optimization" or "search engine optimizer." While many agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, be careful when hiring someone else to optimize your site. There are many techniques that web developers can use to better improve their site's rank without having to hire an outside consultant. If you follow these simple steps, you will improve your search engine visibility and your overall page rank. keep in mind that you can have the best written content and the most targeted keywords on the web, but if your website is not following the suggestions listed in this guide, you might be missing out on some potential traffic.

So how do you make your site optimized for search engines? One thing to remember is that you're not only designing to appeal to your visitors, but also to the search engine spiders. There are a few principles to keep in mind while designing your site to be search engine friendly. These are just very basic principles.

Have clean URLs

Use SEO friendly URLs. This is most important when you begin using adding dynamic content to your page. Search engines like clean and simple URLs, not those that include a querystring such as http://myStore.com?bookID=5423. The preferred URL would look like this: http://myStore.com/book/5423-using-seo-techniques. Search engines really don’t like URL’s that include querystrings and sometimes won’t even follow them. If you are running your website on an Apache HTTP server, you can use apache mod rewrites to clean up your URLs. Or if you are running your site on Windows IIS, you can use the IIS Rewrite Module which is just as effective. The other strong reason for URL rewriting would be the increase in usability for web users, and in maintainability for webmasters. Clean URLs are much easier to remember and when users see these types of clean links posted, there are more likely to click on them, or retype the URL in the browser's address bar without making any typos. Finally, should you ever make a programming change say moving from php (.php) to .net (.aspx), no changes to the URL would have to be made. You would only need to update your rewrite rules.

Limit the use of Flash and Frames

Web spiders, also known as bots or crawlers, are used by search engines to index your web pages. If you want for your content to be indexed correctly, you need to keep in mind that your site should not only be designed for humans, but also these important spiders. Spiders do not do well with Flash, frames, so you should avoid them as much as possible. Developing your entire site in Flash would not be a good idea, unless your goal is to not have your content indexed. Ajax and Javasript is sometimes challenging as well.

Keep your pages to a minimum amount of code

Pages that are bloated with unnecessary HTML code can slow down the performance of the site. You want the experience to be good for users as well as spiders. One way to simplify your HTML code is to use CSS stylesheets. The reason being is that with a stylesheet, you can apply styles to your tags and controls from a central file rather than duplicating the settings on every page. In addition, using sytlesheets will make it easier for you to make a change to a style across all of your pages in one shot.

Use good page titles

Your page titles should not be the same as your URL. In addition, each page should have its own unique title. When constructing a title, you would want the title to read from most specific to least specific with regard to your content, going left to right. For example, "How to Use SEO Techniques - ITGeared.com" is better than "ITGeared.com - How to Use SEO Techniques". Your page titles are displayed in the search engine results page so you want to make sure that you spend some time on this recommendation. If you are coding your site using a server-side scripting language, you can dynamically assign the page title at run time. So you can store title information in a central database if you are using a single page using querystrings to display all of your site's content. Assigning a title is done by using the title tag which should be located in the head section of your page.

Use keywords where they count

Using keywords in the keywords meta tag is not as important as it used to be. Most search engines do not use the information in the keyword meta tag any longer. Place your keywords in places that truly matter such as the URL. The next best places to incorporate those keywords are into your title tag, description meta tag, and/or your header tags (h1, h2, etc..). Spiders look at these very important places so you want to make sure that your content matches the information stored in these tags.

Add descriptions to your pages

Search engines do not tend to use the information in the description tag as they use to in the past for page ranking. However, they still may use the information in the search results page so, it is still important for you to have all of your pages configured with a description. Make sure that you use a different description for every page. The worst thing you could do is use a static description for all of your website’s pages. With each page of your site, describe exactly what that page is about. Just as with the title page, you can store description information in a central database and assign the description tag at run time. The description is stored in the head section of your page, usually after the title. An example is as follows: <META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Your description goes here.">.

Use H1..H6 tags

Spiders like to look at the <h#> tags. Your h1 tag should be your page's title. The h2 tags should be used on a page to emphasize the key topics. As your page's section gets into more content detail, you would continue to use the h tags accordingly. It is not required that you use all of the h tags until you reach h6. Using this technique will help the spiders clarify what is more important on your website.

Use images properly on your site

Finally, the last two things to remember when creating a SEO friendly website design is to use 'alt' tags for images and also to keep textual information out of images. For example, when adding an image to your site, the image tag should look like this: <img alt="image description" src="/folder/image.ext" width="##px" height="##px">. A search engine spider is not smart enough to determine what an image is about. Use an 'alt' tag to help the spiders by providing additional information about the image so they can index it as well. If possible, use the important keywords in the alt tags as well. Aside from your logo, make sure that you keep text out of images. Text should not be included inside of an image. Not only does it increase the size of the image but spiders cant see the text.

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