Is your site “Search Engine Friendly”? This is a term heard often when dealing with search engine optimization or online marketing plans. What does it mean? What makes a site search engine friendly?
A search engine friendly site simply stated means creating a site that can be indexed easily and effectively by the search engines. However, there are many aspects in the design of a site that can hinder it from being effectively indexed by the search engines.
It is a common myth that a site needs be all text and links to be considered search engine friendly. This is not the case at all. Websites can use Flash, Java Script and graphics and still be search engine friendly.
It is not what you use; it is how you use it that will make the difference. In order to combine popular design features and still maintain a search engine friendly site, here are some important components to consider.
Can Search Engines Crawl Through Your Site?
Once the search engines have found your site, can they find the other (inner) pages of the site as well? There are many design features that can stop a search engine dead in its tracks and stop the search engine robots from seeing any further than the front page of the site
One of the most common occurrences is the use of Java Script navigation systems, more specifically the use of dynamic menus. Search engines, in general, can not read the links in these types of navigation systems. This is not to suggest that sites should not use Java Script. There are ways to work around these issues, such as provide an alternate route for the search engines to follow. One of the most common “work arounds” is to create text links at the bottom of the page, or create a site map with text links that will allow the search engines the ability to index the interior pages of the site. Session IDs or cookies can also stop search engines from crawling your site. If session IDs or cookies are used, make certain they are not required for crawling.
Another common “stop sign” for search engines are all Flash sites. If the front page of a site is in Flash, it should have navigation of the site in HTML with text links, and content that reflects the purpose of the site. Many search engines can not read the text that is contained in Flash. If all of the text and navigation are in Flash, it will prevent search engines from finding the information within the site. The ideal Flash site is a combination of Flash and HTML text.
If you have concerns that Flash or other features might be affecting the ability of the search engines to crawl your site, consider using a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site. If you are unable to view your entire site because of these features, then the search engines might have a problem seeing your site well.
Content Is Still King!
Over the years the internet has experienced many changes. However, there is one thing that remains the same. Content is King. Search engines are not looking at the graphics on sites, they are looking for content. That doesn’t mean that you have to do away with the graphics on your site in order to have a search engine friendly site. Content rich text and graphics can live in complete harmony on a web page. But, you must have good (great) content on your site that best describes what you want to convey to your targeted audience.
First and foremost, make sure you write the content of the site for your audience, not the search engines. Present the information about your services or products in natural language. Determine who your targeted audience is, research what they want and give it to them. Be creative in describing your business; make your site stand out. This is where a good search engine optimization copywriter can make your site stand head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. Having keyword rich content that is written for the end user and not search engines is vital to the effectiveness of your site.
Are Title Tags And Meta Description Tags Necessary?
Title tags and meta descriptions tags are not only necessary, they are a very important part of how a site is indexed by the search engines. Use unique title tags and meta description tags on each page of your site. Each page of your site offers different topic specific information about your company. The same needs to be done with title tags and meta description tags. The title tag specifically is one the most important elements that a search engine will look at when crawling your site. It is crucial to your optimization efforts to use relevant keywords in your title tags. The meta description tag is not usually displayed in the SERPs (Search engine Result Pages) however, the information is still indexed by the search engines, and it is important to have a keyword rich description that is unique to each page of your site.
Make Your Site Known to the Search Engines
The most successful way to be included in search engines like Google and Yahoo is to have a site that is already listed in the search engines link to your site. The search engines will then find your link, visit your site and add it to their index.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to submit your site to frequently crawled directories. A few things to consider when submitting to directories are to make sure that you are submitting to quality sites. A few indicators to look for are: When was the directory last cached by Google? What is the directory’s Alexa rating? Is it showing up in the SERPs? What are the ad ratios? Do they have quality sites? Is the directory geared to your end user? You can also ask your site designer or anyone working with your site to add your link to their site in their portfolio or client listings.
However, sometimes the search engines will miss your link, so it is good idea to submit your top pages (two or three pages max) that best describes your site. Avoid automated programs, some provide excellent services, however the major search engines are far too important to take any chances with. Submit your site manually so that you are aware of any problems that might be reported.
In conclusion, the basic fundamentals of achieving a search engine friendly site is to create a website that can be found easily by the search engines without placing obstacles in the coding of the site that will prevent the search engines from being able to see your site. Each page of your site should be exclusive to a specific topic, service or product, with an easy to follow, well developed navigational system. The more unique pages of a site that are targeted to your specific industry will significantly increase the visibility of the site with the search engines.