Welcome to the 5th installment of our SEO workshop series. If you missed the first four posts, you can catch up by viewing them here:
SEO is EASY, Keywords, Keywords In Headlines, Body Copy
SEO Design and Development Best Practices
Everyone seems to be going crazy these days about ‘the secrets’ to optimizing their site for search engines. The good news is, the only real secret is continued hard work and dedication. The bad news is that you’re not likely to want to spend your time changing URL’s reformatting pages, etc. when there are more important things to spend your time and resources on (think increasing conversion rate). So, we are here to help you work with what you have at hand. You can perform quality SEO within your existing Web site’s constraints.
When you do find time to redevelop your site for SEO, you are bound to run into some critical questions:
Do you sacrifice your user’s experience for more search engine traffic?
How far will you push your SEO efforts before you start scaring people away with your overwhelming keyword spam?
Is the design that search engines find easiest to index the same format that increases conversions on your site?
When developing a brand new Web site, or overhauling an old one- you don’t have to worry about compromising your sites’ experience for humans to satisfy search engines. If your site is helpful to people, it will also be favorable to search engine crawlers. This fact will only become more true with every search engine update.
We are going to introduce you to multiple SEO best practices related to design and development. You don’t necessarily have to follow all of our suggestions to make your site favorable to search engines. It is nearly impossible to comply by all the rules that optimize your site for SEO, but do the best you can now to reap the rewards of quality traffic.
There are some important SEO factors that are influenced by the way your site is built, such as wireframes, information architecture, design, and development practices. This isn’t an exhaustive list but it does focus on some of the easier to accomplish practices with proven results. Time to jump in and get started by optimizing your site with the following:
- Use keywords in your URL. This can be accomplished by ensuring your file-naming conventions make good use of your keywords.
- Include targeted content on every page. Ideally, each page should contain two to three paragraphs of descriptive, keyword-rich body text.
- Place keywords closer to the beginning of the file code. CSS can be used to visually position the text wherever you want it, while making it appear higher up in the code for search engines.
- Use header tags instead of <div> tags or images. If a page heading or title contains a keyword, it should ideally be text. If possible, use the important keyword in an <h1> tag, a secondary keyword in the <h2> tag, and so on.
- Limit HTML file size. Keep a lid on the number and size of images and unnecessary code.
- Add alt text for images. Be descriptive. This is another opportunity to tell search engines what the page is all about. All images should have alt tags, including logos, headings and photos.
- Use internal text links instead of image links. Search engines use the content contained within a link to determine what that page being linked to is all about. It needs to be text so they can read it.
- Avoid frames-based Web design. Frames and inline frames (iframes) generally make it difficult for search engines to crawl Web sites.
- Ensure correct application of the robots.txt file. This enables you to restrict or allow access to your site by search engines. Employ it carefully and properly.
- Avoid duplicate content.
- Follow proper site redirect architecture. Avoid 302 (temporary) redirects and employ 301(permanent) redirects to ensure the search engines index your content appropriately.
- Avoid hidden text and other potentially deceptive practices. Any tactics that are considered black hat SEO will probably get you penalized. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday.
- Steer clear of splash pages. Most splash pages are very graphic-heavy and text-light. They offer little value to users or search engines.
- Use tables appropriately.
- Avoid query strings in URLs where possible. Put keywords in the URL instead of query strings. URL aliasing can be used for ugly URLs.
- Create clean, valid code. Search engines appear to prefer code that is lighter, cleaner, simpler, more semantically defined, and in line with W3C standards. CSS can help you achieve this.
What practices did you use when you designed your site to optimize for SEO? Were you able to implement any best practices as an after thought? What do you think is the most important development feature for your SEO rankings? Have you implemented a best practice and found it greatly benefited you? Do you need help getting your site search engine ready? We can help!
, Customer Experience
, Improving Conversion
, Landing Page Optimization
, Lead Generation
, Optimization Strategy
, Persuasive Copywriting
, Planning Methodology
, Search Engine Marketing
, website redesign