Search Engine Friendly Sites
At Webexpectations not only do we design user friendly websites that are built to convert visitors into customers we build web sites that are search engine friendly. As a Google Certified partner WE feel this is a factor of the up most importance.
Why is being search engine friendly important?
For any organisation looking to develop a new website ensuring its search engine (or Google) friendly is a big deal. No-one is going to thank you if 2 weeks after launch your website is incompatible with Google!
Search engine friendly means your website is:
- Accessible to search engine spiders
- Easy for Google, Yahoo! and Bing to index and understand
- Ready to go should you wish to pursue an aggressive search engine marketing campaign
The key point is what happens if your site isn’t search engine friendly? You’re invisible to Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Ouch! This hurts. It also means that if you want to market your website in search engines then organic or natural listings aren’t an option (although you can still use Pay Per Click advertising).
The difference between Search Engine Friendly and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
|Search Engine Friendly||Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)|
|Allows your website to be accessed and understood by search engine spiders||SEO is a dedicated, aggressive marketing campaign|
|Ensures your site is available to Google, Bing and Yahoo!||It aims to rank your website under specific keywords|
|Is it pre-requisite for more aggressive SEO||It is an on-going process|
It so important we include if for FREE!
We passionately believe that being search engine friendly is so important we do it for free, as standard with all new build projects. We also have a dedicated specialist (that’s me!) who’s responsible for checking and vetting site’s before they’re launched to make sure they’re in top-tip Google friendliness.
What do we do?
In the rest of the article, we’re going to walk you through what we believe it means to be search engine friendly. Warning this gets a bit techy!
The single most important on-page SEO factor is the title tag. We ensure that all landing pages have unique titles that relate to the page content. By adding either, the keyword, page name, service or product at the start of the title tag it ensures weight is given to this phrase in the search engine results.
Meta Description Tag
To entice people to click on the site within the search engine results you need to have a good description. All landing pages that we launch within a site have a unique description that is compelling enough to entice users to click on it.
Meta Keywords Tag
Although it has been well documented like on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog
(http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html that Google doesn’t read the Meta Keywords Tag anymore, we feel it is good etiquette that this tag is still used the correct way.
Separating Style and Behaviour From Page Logic
Separating the style and behaviour is an important step we take anyway for building maintainable web sites but it is also a logical step for creating search engine friendly sites. This means search engines don’t have to read meaningless content and the pages load faster for the user. All styles as well as scripts are included in the page from external files.
A search engine friendly web site needs to have accessible navigation, which in essence is achieved by using text based navigation. Navigation that uses flash or images is not search engine friendly and is not accessible for users.
H1 Tags are probably the most important on-page html element. There should only be one h1 tag per page and it should be filled with what is within the head title tag or something similar. The h1 tag appearing towards the top of the source code is very desirable to search engines, yet it should be located in the most logical position such as at the top of the content area.
If you type “click here” into Google, you will see Abobe Reader as the top result. This is purely because of the amount of web sites that are linking to it with “click here” in the anchor. Links with keyword rich anchors will add weight to the page the link is pointing to. Try and avoid using “click here” as this is not only search engine un-friendly but also has a negative impact on accessibility.
To ensure images are search egnine friendly as well as accessible we ensure alt’s within image tags are used correctly. This is also an important step to take with ensuring the sites HTML is W3 valid.
Search Engine Friendly URL’s
All the sites WE launch have search engine friendly URL’s. A search engine friendly URL is a URL that is easily read by search engines as well as humans such as http://www.mydomain.com/my-services as opposed a long query string full of meaningless values such as http://www.mydomain.com/page.html?id=313&a=57896das4454543dswd45343s.
Adding a web site to Google web master tools is an important step to ensuring your web site is search egnine friendly. In Webmaster tools you guide Google to your XML sitemap which essentially helps the Google Bot spyder your web site more efficiently. Webmaster tools also provides you with the Google Bot crawl data including any errors and your top search queries.
Robots.txt files are the first file a bot will request when spydering your site. This is where you disallow each bot from indexing the site content that you do not want to be accessible to search engines.
When launching a new site which is replacing an old one WE ensure all old URL’s will have a 301 search engine friendly redirect added to the new one. This is a very important step as not only will it ensure no traffic is lost going to the old URL’s but it will tell the search engines that they need to index the new URL’s in place of the old.
301 WWW Redirects
We also add a www redirect just to make sure that the search engines know the correct address to index. It is possible for Google to read http://mydomain.com and http://www.mydomain.com as 2 separate pages, which could potentially trigger a duplicated content issue.
|Search Engine Friendly||Aggressive SEO|
|Keywords||Logical keywords relating to content are used within page titles and headings||Keywords are extensively researched and analysed. Competitors are analysed and keywords are short listed|
|Descriptions||A compelling description is added||A compelling description is added|
|Navigation||Accessible navigation is ensured||Accessible navigation is ensured|
|Landing Pages||N/A||Landing pages are optimised for target markets and layouts are extensively tested using multivariate testing technologies, data is analysed and the layout and CTA is improved|
|On-Page HTML||Headings match content, mark up is accessible and validates||Headings match content, mark up is accessible and validates, keywords are used in relevant places|
|Links||Internal site links have relevant keywords||Link campaigns are undertaken generating keyword rich links from relevant sites, internal site links have keyword rich anchors|
|URL’s||Search Engine friendly URL’s are used||Search Engine friendly URL’s are used|