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Designing a Search Engine Friendly Website

In the past we’ve had numerous enquiries from webmasters and website administrators, asking why are my internet pages not ranking in the search engines? Generally, one of the problems is that they have not necessarily designed search engine friendly websites. Below are several pointers on search engine optimization to help you ensure that you design search engine friendly websites.

Add Text To Images

It’s imperative, when building internet search engine friendly websites, that you simply include text to your images. Understand that the search engine spiders can merely read text, no images, not text embedded in images, not video, only text. While Google provides the rudimentary capacity to scan a flash file, it could only follow basic links and can’t read the file, as it were.

For each and every media factor in your search engine friendly websites, no matter whether it is an image, video or flash file, you should describe the media with the addition of an “alt” tag to every media element. The engines like Google can’t read your media element, but through search engine optimization, they can read the “alt” tag and will add this into there index for your page.

Validate HTML Code

It is crucial that you validate your html code to make sure that there aren’t any coding errors, I’m not talking about spelling mistakes, but the code behind the page and when building web engine friendly websites, I recommend that you just run each page through HTML and CSS Validators to ensure their correctness originating from a search optimization point of view.

Even though search engines don’t penalise you for poor code, they depend on the correctness of your code to find out which portions of the page to index. If there are errors with all the code, the search engines might not index the whole page, thereby decreasing the probability that the page ranks highly in the search engines results pages.

Create Title Tags

The various search engines give extra importance to your text within the “Title” tag, be aware that this is not the title that you see towards the top of the page, but the “Title” tag in the code, behind the page you see. It is additionally the text that appears within the Title bar of your respective browser window.

When conducting their search optimization, many new website administrators just place the site name in the “Title” tag, or leave it blank, when designing search engine friendly websites, it is crucial that you provide unique titles for each of your pages, making certain the title describes the page content.

Use HTML Navigation

Some websites depend entirely on attractive looking JavaScript menus, from the browsers point of view, these work well, however, the search engines do not understand JavaScript, much as they do not understand Flash, so if you do not have text links between pages, the various search engines won’t find your inner pages. This will certainly have disadvantages, compared to a site that has both Java/Flash links and plain text links in their search optimization structure.

Another essential factor when building search engine friendly websites will be the inclusion of a sitemap. This allows both search engines and browsers who don’t have Java/Flash installed, to get to each of your inner pages. The sitemap must be accessible from your Home page.

Remove Duplicate Content

You have to be sure that your search engine friendly websites have zero duplicate content. Joomla and also other blogging and content management systems often provide more than one path to the same content, for example, you could reach article ABC at www.mysite.co.za/articles/abc or you may reach it at www.mysite.co.za/archives/article-acb. Another example of this is if your site uses session ID’s. Each visitor on your site will have a different session ID tagged onto the end of the url, to the search engines, these two examples will be handled as duplicate content and their importance to the search engines would be diminished. Try using cookies preferably instead of session ID’s, this works more effectively from a search optimization point of view.

Another issue with duplicate content is that the search engines count the amount of links pointing to every page, the more links from related pages, the higher the assumed value of that page. If you’ve got duplicate pages, there’s every chance that some links follow one path, while other links stick to a different path, thereby reducing the quantity of links to either page and minimizing the effects of your search optimization.

Remove Hidden Text

I think most of us realise that hidden text is really a waste of time. I refer to text placed in the HTML of the page that isn’t visible to the browser. In the early days of the search optimization, some black-hat SEO consultants utilized hidden text to stuff keywords into the page to attempt to influence the search engines. The search engines solution was simple, they don’t promote pages which contain hidden text.

Free webhosts are often guilty of running hidden text around their advertising on your site pages, they do this to influence the type of adverts shown on your pages. This could cause your website to be penalised through no fault of your own. If you are serious about your web presence, buy your own domain and deploy your website on a commercial webhosts server.

Your search engine friendly websites will not guarantee your top placement on your key words, but it’s the 1st step to your website pages being ranked at all. Websites that have no search optimization, will most likely not rank at all for their given keywords. These suggestions are necessary if you’re enhancing your search engine ranking on Google, Yahoo or any of the other major search engines.

Article by Neil Ashton of The Web Guru

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