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Good Web Site Design for Web Site Optimization
Good Web Content - Target Your Audience With Good Content

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Content is key in Web site optimization. Content is the number one reason why visitors are looking for your site. If you make it difficult for the visitor to find you or your content, they will find someone else who will. Your content should fulfill a need for the visitor; whether this need is for information, merchandise or a service, and it should communicate it clearly.
For instance, on the above sample page, my site is supposed to be about cats. However, other than the background graphics, there’s nothing about cats that you can see quickly and clearly. There’s no content whatsoever that would draw searchers in.
Plus, search engine spiders, since they are textually based, can’t “see” these images. I wouldn’t blame anyone for leaving this sample site and looking for another one. Targeting your audience with the content they are looking for is paramount in order for searchers and search engine spiders to find you; in addition, your keyword-rich content will determine how highly you are ranked in the search engines (along with other factors).
A good rule of thumb to follow when determining how much content to include is to insert between 200-250 words of rich search engine friendly content on each of your site pages.More words are fine; just be mindful of the fact that users typically don’t appreciate having to scroll down or read all the way across the screen. Break your content up in into columns, bulleted items, headlines, etc.
Images and ALT Tags

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On a 56K modem (yep, they’re still around), it would take forever to load this page. Plus, it kind of hurts my eyes. If you’ve got load-intensive graphics or other technology that takes a long time to load, you’ll have lost a good part of your audience.
No one wants to wait around forever while a site is loading. Even if you’ve got a site with great content, if the graphics are dragging it down, you’ll have lost your audience. They’ll just be using the “Back” button to quickly find another site that won’t take forever to load.
A good rule of thumb is to only use graphics that are relevant to your site’s purpose, and aim for a file size that is 12 KB or smaller. If you must include an image that is larger than 12 KB, then use a thumbnail image.
In the context of search engine optimization, load-intensive graphics will hinder search engine spiders, since spiders’ primary food is content. Use images sparingly, and instead, work on adding relevant content that will attract both users and search engine spiders.
Provide text-only alternatives for your content that can't be read by search engines (such as JavaScript, image maps, Flash and other multimedia). Include text for your image Alt tags that includes your keyword phrases, for instance, if you’re selling widgets, use the ALT tag “widgets”.

Site Navigation

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Make sure that every single page on your site has clear navigation, and users know exactly where they are and where they are going. Navigation buttons should not contain mystery meat terms like “stuff”, or “about me”, or “cool things”. All of your navigation should be painfully clear as to what page it is describing.
In addition, make sure that all of your links actually work. It’s frustrating for users to click on something and encounter the dreaded 404 Error Page Not Found.
Also, search engine spiders search your site for indexable content by traveling your links. If your site links are broken, guess what? You just missed a visit by a search engine spider, and they might not come back again. Search engine spiders can’t navigate a poorly designed site, and search engine users don’t have the patience to navigate a poorly designed site.
Also, neat little buttons like the above sample are cool and all, but if you want to include them on your site, you had better include text-based navigation as well as a site map or a table of contents. Make the hierarchy of your site clear and easy.

Make Your Text Easy To Read

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The above example is what you should avoid when designing your site for search engines and search engine users.
A dark background, a table with jarring colors and light text - this sample, if let loose on the Web, would drive away visitors in droves. This might sound like a no-brainer, but sites with text that is hard to decipher tend to get less visits by search engine users. Make your text readable.
  • Don’t use silly fonts that might look really cool in your HTML editor, but are unreadable on the Web.
  • Avoid busy backgrounds that obscure the text; if site visitors have to slow down to interpret your text, you’ve just lost an audience.
  • Make your text scannable: use bullets, headlines, and bold text so users can scan your content quickly.
Keywords and Phrases

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Keyword phrases are the bedrock of search engine optimization. Keyword phrases used appropriatately in your site’s content will attract both search engine spiders and search engine users.
The main thing with keyword phrases is that you need to come up with the keywords that are searched for most frequently and that are the most relevant to your site’s purpose.
  • Keep the goal of your site firmly at the forefront. If your site is about the Oregon Trail, then it makes sense to target keyword phrases that are relevant to this topic. It does NOT make sense to splash in a few keyword phrases that are searched for frequently, but have nothing to do with your site’s purpose.
  • You also need to target your audience. If you were searching for sites about the Oregon Trail, what would you look for? Make sure that your site is targeted at who you would like to come visit your site. Quality users beat quantity users any day, because the users who find your site because of the site’s purpose, and not because they accidentally stumbled upon it, will be the ones who will be your best users/customers/repeat visitors.
  • Keyword Stuffing.It’s one thing to insert keyword phrases appropriately where they make sense throughout your site; and it’s quite another to stuff as many keywords (be they relevant to your site or not) in your content. This is what’s called “keyword stuffing” and search engines consider this spamming.
Title Tags

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The Title tag is extremely important to both search engine users and search engine spiders.
Search engines put a lot of weight on the text found in the Title tag, and if it’s not optimized properly, than you’ve lost a vital source for high rankings.
The title tag can be found in the HEAD section of your web pages, and should be different for every page in your site, i.e., don’t just put the same title tag on every single page of your site.
Make your Title tags unique for each page, and make them relevant to what information is on that specific page. Most search results will show sites that have the searched-for words in the title tag itself, so if you want to be found for the keyword phrase “Widget Uses”, then put that phrase in your title tag.
A vague title tag is pretty much useless, and can do more harm than good. Search engine users typing in a search query will scan the search results looking at the titles of the websites listed, so if your title isn’t optimized, yours won’t be given a second look.
In addition, when searchers bookmark a favorite site, the title is what shows up in the bookmarks. A vaguely titled site won’t get repeat visitors if the searcher can’t figure out from the title why they bookmarked it in the first place.

Meta Keyword and Description Tags

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The Meta keyword and description tags are both found in the Head section of your web page code.
Meta keyword and description tags are not a magic bullet that will rocket your site to high rankings, but they are an important factor in optimizing your web site for search engines and search engine users. The information in these tags can influence how search engines view your site, and optimally the description that you write will show up in search engine listings.
Meta Description Tag
For the Meta description tag, write a short blurb with targeted keyword phrases that will entice users to click through when your site comes up in the search engine results. For example:
  • “design stuff: Things that will help you learn about sites and stuff, wow!” is not a good meta description. It’s vague, says nothing about why I would want to visit this site, and is frankly kind of silly.
  • This is better: “Ten steps to search engine friendly site design – free search engine optimization tutorial.” There's good, descriptive keyword phrases here, and it’s obvious what the site is about.
Meta Keyword Tags
Meta keyword tags should be handled with caution. Don’t stuff your meta keyword tags with a hundred different spellings or tenses of the same three words, and don’t pack your keyword tags with irrelevant keywords that have nothing to do with your site’s purpose (this is called spamming and search engines don’t look too kindly on it).Be very stingy with how many times you repeat a word, and don’t repeat a keyword more than twice. Overall, don't spend a ton of time on either of these two tags - yes, they ARE helpful, but in the grand search engine scheme of things, they don't add enough value to really go nuts over.
Doorway Pages and Splash Pages

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Doorways are simple HTML pages that are customized to a few particular keywords or phrases, and they are programmed to be visible only by specific search engines and their spiders.
These pages are designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to trick the search engines into giving them higher rankings. Doorway pages should be avoided, since search engines are pretty savvy when it comes to figuring out if these are being used or not.
Splash pages are intended to be entryways into your site. They usually consist of really neat Flash or other multimedia animation, and may (or may not) invite the user in to the rest of the site when the animation or other such cool stuff is over with.
These pages look really neat, but for the most part, they have no significant text for spiders to crawl (and remember, content is king in search engine optimization).
Not every Joe Browser is able to view the content the way it was designed to view. It's best to stay away from splash pages and focus instead on optimizing your site's content and site design.

Proofread Your Site

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This might come as a shock, but there are a lot of sites out there that go live with glaring spelling errors, annoying capitalization mistakes, and embarrassing grammatical blunders.
Avoid Spelling Mistakes
  • Run your content through a word processing program and use spell check before ever putting it up live on the Web. Bad spelling makes your site look unprofessional and unpolished.
  • Scan your copy for errors, leave it, and scan it again. You'll catch more mistakes if you take a break every so often. In addition, have someone else read your copy for you. They might be able to catch errors and make suggestions you wouldn't come up with.
  • Check your grammar by using a word processing program as well. Microsoft Word allows you to do this by clicking on Tools, then Spelling and Grammar.
A poorly edited site can have the best content in the world, but if it's not proofread for errors, it will make you look both unprofessional and a bit thick.

Site Design Guidelines

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Here are some additional guidelines to keep in mind when optimizing your site for both search engine spiders and search engine users.
Good Web Site Design Guidelines
  • Browser Compatibility. Test what your site looks like in a multitude of different browsers. Try Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Avant, etc.
  • Overall Appeal.How does your site appeal to visitors? What could be improved?
  • Loads Quickly. Images should be sized so they don't bump up load time, and your site should be as clean as possible: meaning, that if you choose to use multimedia technology, use it sparingly.
  • Proofread for errors.A simple spelling error can drive away users. Proofread your site and fix any mistakes.
  • Logos or Brand Names. If your site has a logo or brand name, be sure to include this on every page so the user knows exactly where they are at all times.
  • Flash. Be careful when using Flash, since it deters search engine spiders and increases loading time. Instead, focus on keyword-rich content rather than bandwidth-hogging multimedia.
  • Frames. Most major search engine spiders are unable to read frames. If you must use frames, include important body text within a tag.
  • Sound. Most users find automatically generated sound on a web site extremely distracting and irritating.
  • Pop-ups. Pop-ups are annoying at best. Avoid using them for any reason.


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