An important part of any SEO strategy is to ensure that you have a SEO friendly site. A SEO friendly site is one that allows for easy crawling and allows you to stay at the top of the rankings.
The quest of learning SEO to boost your site’s search engine visibility continues. For a quick recap, this is step 7 in our series, after previously covering: the importance of SEO, how search engines work, how pages are ranked, keyword basics, keyword research, and the long tail of SEO. Today’s lesson covers simple measures you can take to ensure that your site is SEO friendly, which means that spiders can crawl your site and you can remain atop search rankings once you get there.
The two main tenets of building a SEO friendly site are:
1) Build your site so spiders can crawl as easily as possible
2) Build your site so you can remain relevant in search rankings
Not so surprisingly, these two tenets go hand in hand – if spiders can better crawl through your site, it becomes easier for you to climb and remain at the top of SERPs.
Your SEO friendly site should be accessible.
Simply put, an accessible website is one that works. This means that you don’t have any broken links and all your pages load. If you’d like to make a quick check on the functionality of your links, check out the LinkChecker add-on for Firefox. This tool will work through any of your webpages to check for broken links. Additionally, all of your forms should work properly and all of your images, videos, etc. should be available to users and search engines.
Your SEO friendly site should have adequate descriptors.
Site descriptors include items that summarize your page to search engines. These include your URLs, title tags and meta data. Here are some brief pointers on how to optimize these pieces of your SEO strategy:
- URLs: A SEO friendly URL provides a brief description of the page content. It should also be rich in keywords and serve as great anchor text if someone simply copies your URL onto their page. For our example of the Matt’s Hot Sauce website, a good URL for my gift page would be: www.mattshotsauce.com/hot-sauce-presents-and-gifts. Notice how it contains keywords and describes exactly what the page is about. Search engines love this.
- Title tags: SEO friendly title tags follow the same guidelines as good URLs – they contain keywords and describe the page. More specifically, your title tags should start with your primary keyword, followed by a keyword-rich description and your company name. A good example would be: “Hot Sauce Gifts – Gift Ideas for Hot Sauce Lovers | Matt’s Hot Sauce”
- Meta data: SEO friendly meta data should be geared more to the reader, particularly since it isn’t of much importance to search engines anymore. Your meta description is the snippet of text that appears under the title of your page on SERPs. A good example would be: “Matt’s Hot Sauce has great gift ideas for any hot sauce enthusiast. Offering more than 1000 varieties of organic hot sauces, you’ll find the perfect flavor for that special someone.”
Your SEO friendly site should have SEO friendly text.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – the key to SEO success is to provide useful content that others want to share. Additionally, you should optimize your content for relevant keywords. Beyond those main ideas, there are a couple of other tidbits you should know to help spiders crawl through every piece of a webpage.
Search engines won’t read the following type of text:
- Text included in a Flash file or Java application
- Text within an image file (use alt text to compensate for this)
It’s also important to ensure that all of your content is in front of forms and submissions. In other words, if a user has to submit information to see content, search engines won’t find it. This makes sense because spiders aren’t smart enough to fill out the fields to “find” this bonus content.
Your SEO friendly site should remain SEO friendly.
Let’s place ourselves in a perfect world where Matt’s Hot Sauce pages have been crawled, indexed and ranked as relevant to high converting keywords. Another part of the SEO battle is staying on top of the mountain once you reach the summit. Check out a few tips to defend your position:
- Continue to submit sitemaps with new changes. When you make changes to your site, you definitely want search engines to take notice. One of the quickest ways to achieve this is to submit a sitemap. This alerts search engines to give your site another look.
- Promote your page to others. Place your higher ranking pages on your social sites and include them in forum/blog posts to promote link building. If you can get your page out there, people are more likely to share, making the page more and more relevant.
- Update your content. While it’s true that search engines typically give more weight to pages that have been around longer, it’s also extremely important to keep your content updated. If readers feel that your content is outdated, they’ll leave the page, causing a fall in your search rankings. Thus, by updating your content with new copy, testimonials, images, videos, etc., you remain relevant to readers and search engines alike.
- Avoid duplicate content. Search engines place extra emphasis on pages that have unique content. Thus, if your site has pages with the exact same content, you will dilute the strength of the original page. To avoid this, provide a 301 redirect to the page you decide search engines should rank for.
And there you go! Keep these SEO friendly ideas in mind when building or updating your website – following these optimization techniques opens the door for your other SEO efforts to work their magic.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we begin discussing link building techniques.
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate
Learn SEO One Step at a Time Series:
Step One: An Important Introduction
Step Two: How Search Engines Work
Step Three: How Search Engines Rank Pages
Step Four: An Introduction to Keywords
Step Five: Keyword Research
Step Six: The Long Tail of SEO
Step Seven: Building a SEO Friendly Site
Step Eight: Link Building Basics
Step Nine: Basic SEO Measurement/Conclusion