Design for Search Engine Performance
Many volumes have been written about making websites work well with search engines. It is certainly true that any website can be adjusted to improve its search engine performance. However, it isn’t possible for a website to work really well with the search engines unless it has certain characteristics as a fundamental part of its design. It really does pay to get these things right. I’ll try to explain.
Humans judge a website by what they see. So do search engines, but they are totally unimpressed by visual appearance, evaluating a website from the words included in its pages.
As the largest search engine by far, we’ll use Google as an example. Having “read” a website, Google analyses and categorises the website pages. The more logical the categorisation of the pages, the better the site will work.
The strength of the relationship between “search keywords” and “web page content” is the major factor in search engine performance. It’s no surprise therefore, that to maximise the number of visitors arriving via the search engines the steps are:-
STEP 1: Identify the most commonly used search phrases.
STEP 2: Design website to respond well to them.
STEP 3: Observe and optimise performance.
The table below summarises website build factors influencing search engine performance.
Identify the most commonly used search keyword phrases as well as the level of competition using them. Choose the keyword phrases to optimise the website for. Take into account the size of the website and the size of competitor websites to try to ensure the best overall result.
Split the website content into pages matching keyword phrases as unambiguously as possible. Arrange the navigation as unambiguously as possible.
Structure the pages to emphasise the code for the actual content, and minimise the code used for the page template, moving it down the page where possible.
Use the chosen keyword phrases in the link text on the internal linking of the site.
Page copy must include the chosen keywords. A few hundred words of relevant copy works best.
Include keyword phrases in page addresses where possible.
Include keyword phrases in page titles where possible.
Include keyword phrases in meta tags. They are significant, but not more so than when used elsewhere in the page copy.
Code page headings using H1, H2, H3 tags as appropriate.
Image Alt Tags
Use Alt tags as additional opportunities to include keywords.
Google Site Map
For use in the Search Engine Optimisation, create a page which will automatically generate a Google site map, listing the current collection of website pages.
This article was written by Roger Pugh