Considering that the majority of Internet traffic originates in search engines and most people only follow links on the first page of results, it is extremely important for web masters to consider search engine optimization (SEO) when they are creating a site. Naturally this also means that websites that do not have high search engine rankings are going to have very few visitors. While SEO is based on keyword matching content, there are also a number of other factors that affect a website’s search engine rankings and many of them are related to the design of a website. In this article we’re talking about things like file naming structures, image identification, appropriate use of coding and ensuring that a website loads quickly.
If you need help with generating keywords or using them within your site we have information on that too.
Keyword Based File Names
Search engines operate via spiders or bots which index everything on your website at amazing speed and efficiency and they will identify each section of your content with different levels of relevance to the results. One important area, and a clear one to start with, is file and directory names. Most black hat SEO methods have been over-exploited and just don’t work anymore. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing meta tags or hidden page elements. Using a simple trick won’t enable you to top the rankings. In fact using these black hat keyword stuffing techniques is more likely to get your website de-indexed from the search engines all together. We can however, still use keywords in your file structure or URL’s, titles, headings, paragraph text and on embeded objects such as images. Naming files or even your file structure based on these keywords can give you a vital SEO boost without being hit for overusing keywords. You can even benefit from sorting images and files into multi-tier directories. For example, an address of “yourwebsite.com/keyword_one/keyword_two/keyword_three.html” will make search engine robots associate those three different keywords with your page before it even begins indexing the content.
Making the Most of Images
Something that a lot of people neglect is optimizing images. Because search engine robots cannot actually see an image, they take 100% of the information from the text and coding around the image. The most important part is the HTML IMG “ALT” tag, which is used to let search engines know what to show if the image is unavailable or if a vision impaired user is accessing the page they may use a program to convert this text to speech. If you want to make your website as user friendly as possible it is best practice to use these tags for that reason also. Search engines will also index images based on the text that is closest to the image on page. Therefore, an ideal place to position your keywords is within a caption or in a table. Using these methods to add your keywords to pictures can boost your website’s keyword associations in general and also improve your images position in the image search results.
Highlighting Keywords with Coding and Text
Webmasters can also emphasize their ideal keywords or phrases through using headers and titles. The search engine robots will index the entire site, but the title, headers and content headers are given much more weight than your average paragraph text. Titles can be as long as necessary, but using overly long titles can count as keyword stuffing, so we usually stick to less than 70 characters. Headers are another important area, because they work like bullet points, telling search engines what the most important points are. This helps you get what are called: long tail keyword matches. Most users of search engines (probably including yourself) put in a longer line of keywords in order to get more detailed results. Getting your website to come up for specific but important searches can be achieved with header optimization.
The META KEYWORDS tag should not be used anymore. This is an area which has recently dropped to zero value according to Google. Instead, you should use the META DESCRIPTION in order to place a 156 character piece of text that best describes the page. This is also usually read by the user when they scroll through the results.
Having a site structure with top level pages that are relevant to your users will get those pages also indexed. The site links provide better access to those top level pages. They will usually appear once your site is considered of high enough value and when someone does a specific search for you. It is often given to the top result. It is purely up to Google’s reasonable judgement whether these should appear or not.
Most people will not wait a longer than usual time for a website to load, particularly if they are on mobile devices or low bandwidth. So search engines take this into account when they index and rank websites in order to return the most user friendly results. It is important for webmasters to optimize their code so that pages load as quickly as possible. You can do this by ensuring that images are compressed to a smaller file size and, therefore, load time. No matter how effective your SEO design practices are, a very slow website will still have problems with search engine rankings.