When deciding on how you could improve search engine ranking within the major search engines (google, yahoo, bing, sensis and other Australian search engines), it would be easy to talk all day about design for search engine effectiveness… but I won’t. Let’s just make a few points for you to consider.
- Site maps! A page with links that point to important parts of your site. A note here is if you have a site map that contains more than 100 links, break it up into seperate pages so the major players don’t think you are some kind of link farm!
- Always have at least one link to any page. If you have a page that has no internal link….. how do you expect the search engines to find it?
- Frames really don’t serve much purpose for internal content and search engines really do struggle with them, still! They are still good for sponors/external promotions etc.
- Macromedia flash as well as Java applets should be kept to a minimum. These really can add useful animations to a site, but they are not indexed by most search engines. (videos are great content though!)
- URL’s must be neat and clean! Who can remember URL’s like www.stretch-it.net/index.php?id=234&cat=234vsd45&erf=abcdef&wtf-is-this=I-dont-know and how will search engines know what it means?
- Site hierarchy. Make sure ANY PAGE is only 1 to 3 clicks away from your home page. Humans love this as it is easy, google loves this because it is good for humans!
- Dynamic pages (pages that load content on each visit) can often cause the relevant keywords to, loose relevancy. By moving this content to static pages to improve indexing and lighten the load on the Web server will help maintain longevity.
- A no brainer here, but often forgotton. A link to your home page from every internal page is a must!
- Meta tags. The page TITLE is used by search engines to display link text as the result of a search. The description is used to display as search engine result content. Think of these two elements as advertising. (some search engines still use these for ranking also!)
- By organising your content by topic, and then dividing the site into logical sections, with each section focusing on a given topic will allow search engines to better target specific information relevant to keyword searches.
Designing to improve search engine ranking
To summarise, have you ever read a book? Have you noticed that books are really, really, really easy to navigate? Well a website should be no different! Your home page reads like that of a table of contents, sending your visitors to the relevant content and having it organised into the before mentioned sections! Images, scripts and videos should be used only when text can not fulfill the needs, but making sure to maintain the value of the given page.