Essential SEO Considerations For A New Website [DOs & DON'Ts]
There is a plethora of good SEO tips and guides on the web to get your brain juices flowing, but we have compiled these essential 5 SEO DOs and DON’Ts to keep in mind when designing and developing a new website.
If you want your website to show up in the search engines (like Google, Yahoo, and Bing), you have to make sure you’re following the 5 tips below. Remember, “80% of success is showing up” (Woody Allen).
Don’t construct the entire site from images or flash
We aren’t suggesting that ditch flash and images all together. The web would be a very bland and boring place without them. Instead, try to use images to “enhance” your site such as using image sprites for buttons or rollover effects or a nice gradient for your sites background.
• Use engaging flash animations
• Use large images (100kb+)
Be Descriptive in Your Meta Tags and Descriptions
While Google may not necessarily boost your rankings for optimized meta descriptions, it is very important to be descriptive and unique when writing them.
Why? Because the meta description is what displays under each link in the search results page.
A Good description:
A Bad Description:
• Include a call-to-action (##“Learn More” or “Click here”)
• Incorporate keywords in your description
• Include your location if you only operate in certain areas
• Check your spelling!
• Use boring “informational language”
• Overstuff your description with your keywords
• Forget the value proposition to your visitor (##e.g.## “Request a free estimate”)
Find a Balance Between SEO Tactics and Usability
SEO and usability are equally important aspects of a well thought out website.
Balancing the SEO tactics and usability practices differs from site to site. For example, a website for a government department such as a DMV will have a higher need for ease of use because of the wide audience of users who will come to the site. While a site for an IT company may result in an audience more geared towards web-technologies and trends.
There are other benefits to having a good usability from a lead conversion aspect as well.
Bloated and messy content on a site can give a user the impression that the site was “quickly thrown together” or unprofessional. This in turn can cause a sites “bounce rate” (a statistic of traffic abandoning your site after only one page view) to increase.
So how do you balance well written, relevant, optimized content with strong usability practices?
• Use headlines (HTML tags such as <h1>, <h2>, etc…) to transition in your content.
• Make it easy for your user to perform a desired action (such as filling out your contact form or calling you).
• Have broken links or forms that don’t work (check for broken links with Xenu)
The truth is that there is not one justified answer concerning this issue. Due to the nature of the web, there can be hundreds if not thousands of ways to accomplish the same task in HTML/CSS. Not to mention that with jQuery and upcoming technologies such as CSS3 and HTML5 the possibilities are even broader.
The key to a good balance is to display the content in a way that is pleasing to the users eye and at the same time is good enough information for the reader to stay entertained or ‘stuck’ in the content. After all, if a site’s content is not helpful or interesting to its readers, then what good has the site’s SEO actually accomplished?
Use a CMS with Blogging Functionality
Luckily for the web developers in the world the CMS market has been rapidly evolving and there are many open source options available.
So what is a CMS?
The top 3 open source (free) CMS options at this time are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Each has its own unique way of operating but they primarily have very similar functions. In short, CMS = Smart Choice.
So how can using a CMS improve your SEO?
• It (for the most part) produces clean and valid CSS/HTML
• It Can help improve HTML to Content Ratio
• They provide tools / plug-ins / modules for managing meta tags per page
• They can improve a pages loading time
We’ll keep this one simple:
Have both an XML and HTML Sitemap
Sitemaps are GREAT for search engine spiders. They allow the spider access to every page on your site from a single page. All the major search engines also allow webmasters to submit an xml sitemap of their site to increase indexing speeds.
While this is a simple practice, I continue to see webmasters forget to put a sitemap up from time to time.
So why use both? The simple answer:
• HTML sitemaps are for your visitors.
• XML sitemaps are for the search engines.
How do you make a sitemap you ask? There are so many ways:
• Hop over to http://www.xml-sitemaps.com and let them do it
• Have both an XML and HTML sitemap
• Use a script, plugin, or module to dynamically update your sitemap every time a page is added or modified
• Make a sitemap once and never update it again
• Hide your sitemap somewhere on your site so no one can find it (instead, link to it from the footer)
• Have broken links on your sitemap (remember Xenu)
Don’t get bogged down trying to do everything PERFECTLY the first time. Instead, have a friend give you feedback along the way.
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