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What's the point of a website that nobody can find?


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When a business owner decides to bring their business to the web, generally
the last thing that they think about is search engine optimization. They
assume that whomever they hire to do their web design will put up a site and
then submit it to the search engines and the traffic will magically pour in.
Unfortunately it takes more than that to drive search engine traffic to your
site, and even more unfortunately most developers don't program with SEO in
mind, nor do they educate the client about the process involved in gaining
traffic from search engines.

Whether it's carelessness or a lack of knowledge, or a combination of the
two, this often leads to a client that several months down the road doesn't
understand why their site doesn't get any traffic and isn't helping their
business. A good designer will not only program with SEO in mind, but will
also educate the client about the basic principles of SEO, whether they are
the one who executes it or not.

Many times the clients I inherit have gone through this scenario and then
face drastic on-site changes to get their site search engine friendly before
we are even able to begin the arduous process of link building. Whether you
are designing a site for yourself or for a client, following the simple
steps below when programming will ultimately save the business time and
money and result in a search engine friendly site that truly maximizes the
online potential of the business.

Use proper tags for headings, bold text, italic text, and lists. HTML has
heading tags, bold tags, italic tags, and ordered and unordered lists for a
reason and you should use them. Using CSS you can practically style them
however you like, but actually using a heading tag for your headings, and
bold tags for important text, will help allow search engines understand what
text on a page is a heading or what is more important than the surrounding
text. Simply applying a CSS style that makes text larger or bold doesn't do

Optimize your images. Search engine spiders can't read text within an
image. Adding ALT text to your image tag helps, but ideally you should
remove all wording from the image and style it using CSS, adding the
remaining portion of the image as a background image to the text. Here is a
side-by-side comparison of two images that look the same in your browser,
but much different to a search engine spider.

Avoid canonical problems. Believe it or not, search engines can see,, and as three different pages. A simple
solution is to use a 301 redirect to point all of your pages to their “www”
counterpart. You can also select the preferred domain that Google shows in
the new Google Webmaster Tools console.

Get rid of Session IDs if you have a PHP site. Have you ever seen a
PHPSESSID variable added to the end a URL on a PHP page (it looks something
like PHPSESSID=34908908)? This happens because PHP will add a unique
PHPSESSID to URLs within your site if cookies aren't available. This can be
extremely problematic for your site's search engine ranking. Google and
Yahoo will see a unique PHPSESSID in the URL every time they visit a page on
your site, and in turn think that said page is a different page each time.
At worst, this could be viewed as duplicate content and get your site
banned, and at best it will reduce the perceived value of each page. One
solution that I've used successfully is to utilize url_rewriter.tags, which
you can Google to find out more information about.

Put CSS and JavaScript in external files. Nearly every site nowadays uses
CSS and JavaScript for something. While both are great for enhancing user
experience, neither will help your search engine ranking if left on your
page. One of the factors that search engines consider when ranking your site
is the percentage of code relevant to the search term. CSS and JavaScript
can take up hundreds of lines of code, minimizing the importance of your
text and in turn hurting your ranking. By putting them in separate files and
simply including them in your page by reference, you can reduce hundreds of
lines down to one and increase the amount of code in the file that is
relevant content.

Minimize the use of tables in layouts. The debate about whether or not
tables should be used in site design has been going on for years and there's
no end in site. I fall somewhere in the middle – there are certain
circumstances (like organizing tabular data) where I think tables still make
the most sense, but I also appreciate the SEO benefits of using CSS layouts.
CSS layouts drastically reduce the amount of code in your site that isn't
content that the user sees. Just like moving CSS and JavaScript to an
external file, the less on-page code that isn't content, the better.

Validate your site. A site doesn't have to be perfectly coded to rank high
in the search engines (there are many, many other factors), but valid HTML
will help ensure that search engines and browsers alike will accurately see
your page. Try using the official W3C Validator on or install the
handy HTML Validator Firefox Add-on. Validating generally identifies areas
of code that are redundant, unnecessary, or not accepted across all
browsers. All of which will help make your site more search engine friendly.

Anyone can build a website.  Ask your developer about their track record and how their own commercial websites are performing

With thanks to the author Adam McFarland for this article featured on


Date Posted: 2006-12-12
Listed under these Business Listing Categories: IT Services & Products, Advertising,

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