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Hints and tips to make your site search engine friendly


The following hints were provided by Net Registry, one of Australia's leading domain and hostng providers at a recent SEO seminar in Melbourne - March 2007.

A Search Engine Friendly Website

Search Engine Optimisation is an established process of improving how your website interacts with search engines, thereby boosting your overall search engine ranking and website traffic. We have compiled a list of recommendations to accelerate your website’s success.

The most important SEO tip is to remember, establishing strong search positions take time. However there are a few techniques that can be applied across your site to accelerate the process. A search engine spider determines the contents of a website and puts it under a particular category for future reference. Search engines tend to reward sites with good content that are well networked.

Recommendations to accelerate your website’s success

CONTENT

Search engines deem the quality and quantity of a website’s content an indicator of the ‘importance’ of the website.

Informative and Valuable:
Informative and valuable content will attract both new and returned visitors, as long as it is unique and specific enough to appeal to readers. Remember to regularly update the content on your site, a maintained website is expected to be a more reliable source of information, therefore it’s attractiveness to search engines increase. If visitors value your content, they will eventually link to your site. Please ensure correct spelling is used throughout your site, as search engines significantly devalue spelling mistakes.

Educational, News or Expert Advice:
Content relating to your industry, in the form of news, advice or educational information, will also be beneficial when improving your search engine position.

Educating visitors with useful and expert information will encourage other websites, within your industry, to link to your site. A strong link exchange can be extremely beneficial, especially with a very popular site in your industry. 

It is relatively easy to create a dedicated news page that is filled with articles relevant to specific industries. This is a relatively effortless method of content creation. Although previous articles are archived, search engines can still scan these extra pages.

Relevant Content
The search engines scan the content on a web page and determine the relevance of specific search terms. Therefore your website’s copy must convince a customer to purchase your product as well as persuade a search engine of its relevance.

Placement and Formatting
We recommend you place your web copy directly under your ‘Header’ and ‘Title’. It is also beneficial to repeat the text, which lies within the title tag, inside the body of the web page. It is unwise to have keywords in the title tag, which are not repeated. It is also worth noting, search engines do not recognise graphical headings as easily as text headings, especially if the H1 to H6 elements are used.

Keyword Density
It is imperative search engine spiders identify your most significant keyword phrases and index them accordingly. There are a few methods that can be implemented to increase the attractiveness of keywords.

When writing your website’s copy, it is common practice to have approximately 500 words a page. We recommend aiming for between four and eight keywords peppered throughout the copy on each page. Although these keywords increase your probability of being listed, you will need to balance a smooth text flow with using all the keywords. It is also beneficial to use your main keyword in the first sentence. Don’t overdo the use of the “bold” styling tool, however it is advantageous to “bold” your main keyword once. 

Expanding Current Content
If your current web copy is limited in its quantity, it would be worth expanding the information. This could take the form of a more in-depth explanation of your product or service, separating long pages as well as running a forum or blog on related topics.

LINKS

Establishing Links

Incoming links to your site from other web pages dramatically improves search engine rankings, especially if links are from highly ranked sites. Establishing links from other quality web sites within your industry is vital for successful SEO and securing strong search results. Google deems a website’s link popularity an incredibly significant indicator. Especially when other websites, from your industry, recommend your website.

Quality link building is a very tricky process. We recommend not building links too quickly (this is often penalised by search engines); they must simulate a natural progression or growth. A quality link, is from an industry relevant website with a strong PageRank. If you plan to personally undertake the link building, ensure you have a good management system for following up and checking your link exchanges.

Here are the basic rules of good link building:
           
Relevant Sites
When swapping links, only choose related sites. These will not only benefit your visitors, but also increase the site’s attractiveness to search engine spiders. Non-specific sites should only be used if the site is a major portal, with a high PageRank.

A Link Page
Obviously, source links are stronger if the PageRank is high (at least 2). However this PageRank score should be offset by the site’s relevancy. For example, it would still be beneficial to include a link to an extremely relevant site; even if it’s PageRank was 0. We recommend building a network of links of sites with a PageRank of more than 4.

This might seem unusual, but from our experience we have noticed that fewer, high quality links, on a link page, attracts the strongest result from search engines. Especially as most major search engines (predominantly Google, Yahoo and MSN) penalise web sites that link with “bad neighbourhoods”. If a web site appears to be dubious or you are simply unsure, avoid linking to the site!

Avoid using the following techniques

Ensure your website’s development is not hindering your online success with search engines. A poorly developed site could be blacklisted or heavily penalised by search engines.

Here is a list of suggestions:

  1. Avoid using entirely Flash designs; as a majority of search engines cannot index Flash only sites.
  2. Don’t use the same colour text as your background, even if it is an image.
  3. Avoid hiding search engine rich content behind a layer, search engines tend to favour simplistic code.
  4. Try to avoid using frames for important body text
  5. Don’t use JavaScripts or JavaScript links, if you do, include a text link at the bottom of each page
  6. Avoid overusing keywords
  7. Never cloak your domain name. This involves filling a page with very high quality search engine content, then redirecting to another, more user friendly site.
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