|Designing Your Web Site to Maximize Traffic
Designing Your Web Site to Maximize Traffic
Designing your site to maximize traffic from the search engines is not a difficult task but it does require you to think ahead and plan your SEO strategy carefully. If you have not yet built your web site and are still in the initial planning stages then you may have an easier time of it. If you already have an existing web site, then you may need to take the time to read up on these SEO strategies and make some changes to incorporate them into your web site.
I will discuss 13 ways in which you can improve on your existing web site or boost a brand new web site into the stratosphere of high rankings. These are NOT SEO tricks but rather tried, tested, ethical and true methods that we know to work effectively. We all know that in reality there are no real SEO tricks. True success is achieved through hard work, research and implementation of a thorough and complete SEO strategy.
Without further ado here is a checklist of important items to consider and implement into your SEO strategy.
Using Style Guidelines Effectively
If you are using CSS style commands, do not include them within your actual web page source code. You don't want search engine spiders to have to wade through 100 lines of unreadable code before they reach your actual content. Instead, place your style guidelines into a separate CSS file and call them with a single line of code from within your <head> and </head> tags by using the following code:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="replace-with-style-file-name.css">
Primary Keyword Layout
Examine your web site from a source code point of view and ensure that your primary keywords or phrases will be spidered first. When search engine spiders read your page they read the source code just like we would read a book from left to right - top to bottom. We know that search engines place higher relevancy on keywords and phrases which appear closer to the top of a page so it stands to reason that if you've got a large table full of graphics appearing at the top of your source code before your primary keywords, then you can achieve higher rankings by adjusting your layout and placing a well written search engine optimized paragraph above that table full of graphics.
Spiderable Text Present on Each Page
Many times I have seen some very pretty web sites, but their chances of ranking high for any relevant keywords have been dashed by the use of only graphics and very little or no text on the pages. It is very important to your SEO strategy that you make sure that you've taken the time to write some quality textual content for your pages. Don't write nonsensical text filled with blatant sp@m. Instead, take a few extra minutes and write 4-5 quality paragraphs which clearly explain the theme of your site and the particular page youre writing for.
Proper Use of robots.txt File
On several occasions I have performed an analysis of a client's web site only to discover that they had inadvertently blocked spider access to their web site by incorrectly formatting their robots.txt file. It is critical that you know what you're doing when you use a robots.txt file. If you are unsure of the correct syntax when modifying or creating a robots.txt file, I recommend you not use a robots.txt file at all. This may sound counterproductive, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Accidentally blocking the spiders can result in a loss of all your rankings. It would almost be like starting over again to repair the damage. For help on correctly formatting your robots.txt file, visit robotstxt.org.
Dead Links and 404 Errors
If you are not checking for broken links on your web site, then you should start immediately and make this a part of your SEO strategy. You can never be 100% sure of your link integrity, especially when your site has 100, or more, pages. Aside from losing potential customers into a vortex of 404 errors, you risk more than that from a search engine perspective. When a search engine spider visits your web site and finds broken links, the impression left is that your site is not regularly maintained and updated. Not much is known about how the engines view this, but your crawl status may be assigned a low priority by visiting search engine spiders. In other words, the spiders may not visit your site as frequently as they visit sites with 100% link integrity. So make sure you download some link checking software and begin a regular schedule of
verifying your link structure.
Using Images For Primary Navigation Links
Many webmasters like to use fancy looking navigation links but, in doing so, they fail to establish a theme for their sites. For instance, using a graphical link back to your home page does not tell the search engine spiders what that link is about unless the spider actually visits that page. If you use optimized ALT text on that graphical home page link, then that would be a step in the right direction. But to maximize the effect and clearly define the theme of your web site, you need to use a text link that has your primary keyword or phrase within the link text. This is called Link Reputation.
Home, Site Map and Contact Page Links
The Home, Site Map and Contact pages are your site's primary pages and should be your SEO strategy top priority. It is essential that these pages be spidered and exposed to your site visitors. To ensure that they are spidered, place links to them near the top of your source code on every page of your web site. Your home page is, of course, the main entrance to your web site so you want that to be the focal point in the search engines. Your site map page should (if properly optimized) have links to all of your sub pages and use primary keywords belonging to each sub page within the link text pointing to those sub pages. Your contact page is just as important because it's used by visitors who have questions or who wish to order products and services.
When a web page has outlived its usefulness, webmasters will, on occasion, redirect visitors hitting that page to another page. Search engine spiders, however, take a dim view of page redirects. If you change the content of your site and find that you have no further use for a page, do not place a redirect on that page. Instead, remove the outdated content and replace it with something relevant. Include a text link to your home page or to a new replacement page. When you remove a page or place a redirect on an outdated page, you're cheating yourself out of better rankings and search engine traffic. Moreover, using page redirects can result in the removal of your site listing in search engine databases with a consequent loss of revenue.
Excessively Small Type Font Sizes
Text in a font smaller than font size 2 is normally reserved for copyright information and the legal jargon often seen at the bottom of web pages. Use font size 2, or greater, for the majority of text on your page. Font size is a major factor in SEO strategy because the font size used defines the relevancy a search engine spider assigns to the content it finds on your page. An example of this would be the text within heading tags (H1 through to H6). Text surrounded with H1 tags has a higher relevancy placed on it than text surrounded with H6 tags. Visit the w3.org website for a better understanding of how on-page text is viewed by search engine spiders with regard to importance and relevancy. Search engine spiders tend to follow the W3 HTML standard.
Hidden Text, Door Way Pages and Other Tricks
Nowadays search engines are pretty smart and trying to trick them is not a wise course of action. Take some time to stop and examine your approach before proceeding with your SEO strategy. The rule of thumb is that if it looks like spam or could be perceived as spam by the search engines, then it probably is spam. The last thing you need is for a competitor to report unethical SEO tactics to the search engines. Such tactics could result in a loss of existing site listings as well as a ban on future submissions. So, to ensure the longevity of your online business, stay away from any technique that looks unethical.
Using HTML Frames
In short, don't. Frames are not very search engine friendly because search engines cannot read a framed source document that tells your browser to load more than one page in your browser window at the same time. Thus, achieving a high PageRank on your home page is difficult. Frames also make it hard for search engine spiders to find all of your sub pages.
If the URL's for your web site contain characters such as &, $, =, %, etc., that is they are dynamic in nature, then search engine spiders may not be able to read them. And, if they can't be read, then the search engine spiders won't be able to follow them to index your pages. However, there are solutions available to fix this problem. For example, webmasters who have sites hosted on servers with Unix operating systems can use Apache mod_rewrite to rewrite URL's that contain a session ID, or other nasty characters, into search engine spider friendly URL's.
SEO, of course, is not just limited to the 13 areas covered in this article, but if you apply the SEO strategies outlined in these 13 areas to your web site, you will find that your site rankings and traffic improve dramatically.
About the Author
Brendon Turner is a certified search engine optimization specialist with 8 years experience as a Senior SEO Consultant. Brendon also maintains ProfitGazette.com, a progressive weekly edition of real-world online marketing business tactics that work!