Back to Basics: 10 Things We Forget SEOwise When We Start a Website

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SEO has become an important element of any website project. A website is optimized for the search engines will as a result rank better and receive more traffic. But many site owners still neglect to apply search engine optimization, even though more than 80 % of site traffic is generated by search engines. The point of optimizing your site and code is to make sure that Google and Yahoo see the same things that you or me as humans see. If you have bad code, these little bots will get confused and run away, neglecting or misunderstanding what could be very good content on a website. To properly optimize your website here are ten basic tips on how you can improve your site.

1. Friendly URLs
Implementing desired keywords in the domain name is one way to increase rankings  in the search engines. Another, though commonly forgotten, is applying the same strategy for all the URL-strings of the site.

WordPress users should change permalink settings to /%category%/%postname%/ so that the category and post title are included in the URL rather than display as www.yoursite.com/cat=9 or post=1. For example, here on PresidiaCreative, a post is titled, 10 Sites to Find Free Vectors.  To make it easy and friendly, the URL is http://www.presidiacreative.com/10-sites-to-find-free-vectors/ . Easy as pie, a user knows immediately what is the post subject instead of seeing: http://www.presidiacreative.com/post145.

2. Using the noarchive and noindex tags

Not all of the content on your site has to be indexed or crawled by search engine spiders. About pages and Privacy policy pages are good examples of  pages that can be ignored by spiders..

As a caveat, if you install a WordPress theme or Drupal theme, be sure that a global “noindex” is not placed.  I have seen a web designer’s blog that had his whole site noindexed.  Now, how would anyone ever find his site? Check that code!

3. Don’t use images as your links on the site (excluding banners)

When a search engine crawls your website, your task is to make all content as readable and available as possible. Using graphic images instead of texts for links is not recommended as it only makes it harder to read for search engine spiders.  It also creates an accessibility issue because some browsers are not able to read images well.  Your user could end up with a blank site. And if that construction worker image is still on your site, get rid of it too.

4. Create a XML sitemap

Search engines like Google give no guarantee when your website will be indexed. Months may pass before your site appears in the search results. Adding a sitemap will speed up the process and make it easier for the search engine spider to crawl your site and properly index your content; though it is no guarantee still  You can go to http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php . Google Yahoo, MSN and Ask (formally Askjeeves) use the same structure for XML sitemaps.

5. Keep the footer links to a minimum

Search engines care little about footer links. Bottom based links should primarily be used as a navigation option for the visitor and include only internal links that are not displayed in the main link menu.

6. Use All in One SEO for your WordPress blog- Meta tags and HTML title matter

Adding meta data is a efficient way for you to tell the search engines what you want them to display every time your site is listed in search results. There you can include the keywords you want and describe the site or page to get the search engine users attention. WordPress does not come with meta tags and require the installation and activation of All in One SEO Pack.

7. Don’t Abuse <h1> and <h2> tags

Using headers and sub-headers is not only useful to structure site content, but also makes  it easier to  see a visual layout of a page. Proper header tags are also appreciated by search engines. But whatever you do; do not overuse header tags as it will only loose its structural purpose and value for search engines.

Remember how you do bullet points in MS word?  Work your site the same way.

8. Put the alt tag and description for images

Unlike text, images are invisible to search engines. By always filling in a description  in the alt tag you will simply give the search engine spiders ratable information about the image.  Again, this also plays in accessibility of a site; if a user cannot view the image they will see the ‘alt=’ text.

9. Blogroll List of 100? Trim it Down

Too many external links on a website is never good. So when you are building a list of links,for example a blogroll, make sure to keep the amount of links in check. Too many will decrease their value and make it hard for the reader to follow.

10. Clean Up Useless Code.

Again, the purpose of optimization is to make your site and its content as available and readable as possible for search engine spiders AND for the visitor. This goes for the code as well. By validating your code in the XHTML validator at http://validator.w3.org, you will ensure that code is readable.

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