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by Dawn Rowlett

Directory editors will actually review your site and be critical of issues that you might not be.

Spiders must easily be able to navigate through your site to be able to index all of your pages.

When directories or spiders become confused or slowed because of design issues, your page becomes less relevant.

Site Structure:

Keep all of your important pages in the root directory.

Name pages after important keyword phrases (After you have researched your keywords).

Name directories after important keyword phrases.

Include a site map that includes links to all of your pages. Include a keyword rich description for each link that is relevant to the page you are linking to.

Create a customized 404 page that fits the design of your main pages and includes links to all of your important pages -- especially your home page.

Navigation:

Keep your navigation, to the right of your pages, in the middle or at the end of your pages. If you have your navigation on the left your page or at the top, this will be the first thing that a spider will see. You want your body text to appear to a spider before your navigation. Doing this will make your body text appear to be more relevant.

Navigation should be simple and easy to understand and hard to get lost within your site.

Heavily cross link all of your important pages.

Include a link to your home page on all of your pages.

When Creating Your Pages Always:

Make sure that your pages are compatible with all browsers 4.0 and above.

Create comfortable, appealing designs.

Be sure that your pages are neat, clean and organized.

Use high quality, optimized images.

Include a company logo.

Be sure that your pages are fast loading -- even on a 28.8k Pages should never exceed 75K

Include quality content within your site - Pages should contain from 200-1000 words. A good average is about 600 words.

Text should be easy to read.

Use text links as opposed to image links.

Make sure that there are no broken links in your site - monitor this regularly.

Include copyright information.

Include a contact page.

You May Want To Consider:

Using Cascading Style sheets. By using CSS, you are specifying certain factors such as font, color, paragraph style, ect. all in one place of your page instead of throughout your page. By doing this, you will make your content appear to be more prominent throughout your pages. Keep in mind that all CSS is not compatible with the Netscape browser.

Always Try To Avoid:

Splash intro or welcome pages. Your home page will be the most important page of your site and should include quality content.

Flash - A majority of major engines will not index flash sites. Editors may be critical of heavy or slow loading flash.

Frames - Most major engines can not read frames. If you must use frames, include important body text within a <no frames> tag.

Animated graphics - Slows load time and can be annoying to some visitors, editors and spiders.

Heavy graphics - Slows load time.

Low quality graphics - editors will be very critical of this.

Sound - Slows load time and can be annoying to visitors and editors.

Dynamic features - Spiders can not crawly dynamic features such as a drop down menu.

Java Script - Spiders can't read JS and it gets in their way. Spiders can become confused by JS and it can make your important text appear to be less relevant. If you must use JS, move it to an external .js file.

Java Script Links - Spiders can not crawl links in Java Script.

Image Maps - Spiders can not crawl the links within image maps.

Spelling errors - Directory editors will be very critical of this.

Broken links - Spiders and editors will be very critical of this. Check this regularly.

Pop-ups - The will slow load time, confuse spiders and annoy editors and visitors.

HTML errors - Bad HTML will confuse spiders and cause browser compatibility issues.

Never:

Submit an unfinished site.

Submit a site that includes words such as "Under Construction".

Include text on your home page that says something like "report broken links here". Include a phrase such as this on your contact page. Never on your home page.

Include illegal content within your site.

Use hidden text/links, tiny text/links, same color text/links as the background - this is considered spam and you can be banned from major engines and/or directories if you do this.

Use clear or transparent images.

Now What?

Now that you have designed your web site with search engine spider criteria in mind, you have taken the first steps to prepare your site for higher rankings but don't stop here! This is just the beginning. Next, you will want to thoroughly research the search terms that you are going to target -- afterall, you don't want to choose keyword phrases that no one is ever going to search for! Then, you will need to work on a link building campaign so that you can gain some publicity to your site and begin generating some traffic while making your site more and more popular each day. Move on to developing you content so that it revolves around your search terms and target market and then onto your meta tags, titles and descriptions. Finally, you may be ready for your final submission date and begin to see your efforts pay off!

Dawn Rowlett is a search engine marketing consultant and positioning specialist with Web Submission Services. Over the last few years, she has been researching search engines with her partner Michael Hargrove, who has over eight years of SEO experience, working with clients and developing a Search Engine Marketing Membership to help web masters and designers understand how to properly prepare a web site for top search engine rankings. Dawn can be contacted at [email protected]





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