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SEO & Website Design Considerations

I am often asked to give a list of guidelines when a client is considering re-designing their website. The question usually arises as a budgetary consideration. The client doesn’t want to spend money on a new website only to discover that the new site causes issues with their search engine listings. They don’t want to find themselves spending even more to fix problems caused by a site redesign. They’d rather do it right the first time and frankly, I’d rather not have to be the one to tell them that their new site has problems.

So, here’s my basic list of do’s and don’ts for SEO friendly site design.

DO:

  • Do make sure that your pages have plenty of content. Around 300 to 500 words of plain html text on the page will give the spiders something to work with.
  • Do focus on no more than 2 or 3 keywords per page
  • Do make sure that your text has a keyword density of between 3% to 5%
  • Do write a Title Tag of around 80 characters in length. Include the keywords that are important to that page. Each page should have its own unique title tag.
  • Do write a Meta Description 200 characters in length. Include the keywords that are important to that page. Again, each page should have its own unique Meta Description.
  • Do write a Meta Keywords tag of up to 500 characters. Use keywords important to that page. Each page should have its own unique Meta Keywords.
  • Do put plain html text links on your pages. You want the spiders to follow the links to the other important pages of your site. It helps your site visitors too.
  • Do put a site map in your site. Make sure you link to it from the front page.

DON’T:

  • Don’t spend too much time on your Meta Tags. They are secondary in importance to most search engines and some don’t use them at all.
  • Don’t put your content (body text) into graphics, flash, frames, scripts, etc. The major search engines have problems indexing content that isn’t in plain html. They like html text… so, give them html text!
  • Don’t clutter up the top of your code with everything but the Body text. Try to put the content as high on the page as possible.
  • Don’t repeat keywords more than 3 times in your Meta Keyword or Description tags and no more than 2 times in the Title.
  • Don’t put your links in graphics, flash, or javascript. The search engines may have difficulty following them to index the rest of your site.

Now before you get excited, i’m not saying that Flash and JavaScript are not to be used at all. They have their place, but must be used with care.

If you follow these few basic guidelines, you’ll have a site that is easy for the spiders to crawl and has the best chance of ranking well. Then you get to start the process of tweaking the pages for conversion. But that’s another topic!

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