How To Make Your Site More Search Engine FriendlyBy Rich Rosell
Article Date: 09-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
It’s never too late to improve the number of people who find your company online.
Most of us use some kind of online search engine on a daily basis when we’re looking for something. Whether it’s Google, Bing, Ask, or any of the multitudes of other search engines, we simply type in what we’re looking for and up pops page after page after page of results.
For me, it’s rare when I go past the second or third page of results. That’s bad news for all of those potentially high quality results buried down on page 23, because the odds are, I’m never going to get that far.
What happens when people do a search for your company site? What page does it show up on? That’s valuable information to be aware of, and it’s never too late to get the answer to this question. And more important, it’s never too late to do something to improve your results.
One way to tackle the search engine results issue is to understand that it may be time to make some changes to your site. If you’re not familiar with the term “search engine optimization” you should be. It’s the sort of thing that can make all the difference in where your company site shows up when someone does an online search. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a methodology designed to improve the volume of traffic to your site and improve where it lands in search results.
Utilizing SEO techniques all sounds logical enough, but how do you do it?
It’s really all about the tweaks, the little things that you can do to tune up your Web site so that it is properly optimized for the search engines. There are literally volumes written on the subject, but what I’m going to talk about are just some of the immediate areas that you can look at. These tips will, over time, help make your site more visible to the search engine spiders – those automated Web bots that help index and determine the all-important search engine rankings.
- Keywords. What words are your potential customers using to find your business? It’s time to think like a customer. Begin by assembling a list of all the phrases you think people might use when searching for products and services you provide, and then take a look at your Web site traffic reports (your Web host should be able to provide these) to see what keywords actual visitors have already used to find you. Compare your list with what’s being used, and make any necessary changes to your site’s keywords.
- Use the ALT attribute. There’s a lot of back-and-forth as to whether the ALT attribute on images is really relevant when it comes to search engine optimization. The ALT attribute allows you to add some related text to each image on your site. Each image on your site should be labeled with a text description, known as an IMG ALT attribute. Since search spiders can’t decipher one image from another, these IMG ALT descriptions can make identification easier, and as a result could help in establishing page content.
- Keep important info on top. It’s not good practice to make users scroll down too many long, tall Web pages to find out what you’re trying to tell them. Plus, your content has a better shot at getting indexed by the search spiders if it is near the top of your page. Adopt the newspaper philosophy, and put the key content “above the fold.”
- Make Web page titles self-explanatory. This is probably the easiest tip on this list. Creating logical, self-explanatory titles for each page will not only help out the user who bookmarks a page, but it is also one of the most important search engine tune-up tricks. A good page title will help the search engine understand what your Web page is all about.
- Improve page load times. This is an oldie, but it’s always a goodie. A slow-loading page will not only turn away users, but it may directly impact your search engine ranking. Remember: The longer a search crawler waits, the less it likes visiting your page. Minimizing such deadweights as large, unnecessary Flash files is a good place to start.
- Take a look at your navigation. Try to develop a search engine-friendly navigation bar that is easy to use, but is also keyword rich. It’s best to have it text-based, as opposed to images or some sort of Flash menu that the spiders have difficulty reading. Well-structured navigation helps the search engines in weighing the value of certain pages to a particular topic or search.
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