It takes months to properly plan a new site launch or even a redesign. With months of time invested, and hundreds (or thousands) of man hours on the line — you need to make sure your new site is ready to rock from day one.
It is a common belief that a well designed web site is one that lacks optimization. While many times that does in fact hold true, it does not have to be. With the right communication in place, your designers can produce both great looking and functional web sites that do not compromise your ability to optimize.
Here are ten quick tips to pass along to your designers, your writers and your developers to help them create the best site from the beginning…
2.) Code Validity is Key
Always make sure that the final code of your pages can fully validate according to W3C standards. Failure to validate could create accessibility issues — and the engines simply dislike that. They want to push their users out to complete sites that work for everyone.
3.) Browsable Navigation Links
4.) Use a Structured Content Hierarchy
A theme based approach to optimization is the most successful one. Imagine all of the content on your web site to mimic a family tree. Each layer down, there’s more content that fits the overall theme. By nature, the further you drill down — the more specific your content becomes.
5.) URL Construction & Query String URLs
Query strings in URLs are less of a problem today than they once were. Unfortunately, they can still create issues for some engines — and it’s our goal to make the most of the search industry. With this in mind I would recommend that you work with your coding teams to ensure that query strings are kept to a minimum.
6.) Limit Flash Usage
Putting all of your content in a Flash file creates a difficult platform from which to optimize. While it can be done, the results will not come as easily as if Flash was used as a compliment to the rest of the page. Thankfully, with CSS streamlined video on the ‘net, Flash is no longer a necessity. Remember, if you have to use Flash — cut down how much information is in there and fine alternative ways to deliver the content.
7.) Natural Keyword Integration
Repeat after me… “I will not stuff pages with keywords!” Like the engines, I’m tired of seeing web sites that would be great if not for their blatant use of keyword stuffing. Listen up folks… Keyword density and repetition is a thing of the past. Engines are more about off page SEO now, and you need to write clear and concise content that addresses the user. Engines are keen to what makes sense contextually… Don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes.
8.) Local Information Integration
Sounds all technical and precise, but it’s quite simple. If you sell antiques in Tampa Florida, then include that in your site. How? List (in HTML formatted text of course) where you are located. Include a link to Google (or Yahoo) Maps to help hammer home the point. Search is moving to become more focused on users at a local level. Therefore, building sites with this in mind should be a given.
9.) Avoid Duplicate Content
This is pretty self explanatory, and it’s an SEO principal that has been hammered home many times. Why keep on hammering? Because it’s that important! Be sure that you don’t get lazy and copy content from one page to the next. Each page should be specifically targeting one major idea, and the text needs to reflect that. Think you’re at risk? Try something like this free tool allows you to determine the percentage of similarity between any two pages
10.) Launch With the Proper Foundation
Is your new site equipped with a robots.txt file? An XML sitemap? RSS Feeds? Before you launch any new web site you need to run a full QA test to ensure that…
• all pages load properly
• no browser compatibility issues exist
• SEO elements (titles, meta tags, alt tags, etc.) are in place
• spiders can discover all pages
• robots.txt validates
• sitemap.xml(.gz) works
Doing this will really cut down on any potential errors out of the gates, and will put you in a position to succeed.
Involved in the industry since 1999, Eric currently manages organic optimization at a Fortune 500 organization. In addition to contributing here on Search Engine Journal, Eric maintains a blog and consulting business at www.ericlander.com.