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Your SEO-Friendly Website Checklist

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One of the most difficult things for many who are new to the SEO field to wrap their heads around is the wide variety of skills and knowledge necessary to be truly effective. For those not coming from a programming background (and even some that are), programming and technical issues can often pose a real problem. While I’ve seen bits and pieces of this information scattered all over, I haven’t seen them compiled in one handy checklist. No doubt, someone is currently adding #18 and #19! Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be half way there! Well, part of the way at least…

CHECKLIST:

SITE STRUCTURE/CODE ISSUES:

1. Make sure your code is structured and readable. Use H1 through H6 tags to structure your implementation and use CSS definitions for visual presentation.

2. Do not use frames or iFrames.

3. Use the Google Site Maps system.

4. Create search-friendly file directory URLs like
www.alphasearch.ca/services/search_engine_optimization.php instead of www.alphasearch.ca/services/information.php or, even worse, www.alphasearch.ca./services/2.php . Use important page keywords in file directory URL when possible.

5. Dynamically generate pages only when appropriate and necessary – make sure the top pages in your site tree are static HTML pages.

6. Avoid clumsy navigation menu programming (like DHTML dropdowns or Java Rollovers/image maps).

7. Create multiple navigation menus for the Search Engines to follow.

8. Use text-based Nav menus (as opposed to graphic buttons). You can achieve rollover effects with CSS.

9. Place all CSS and Java Script in external files and link to them in the head of the document.

10. Do not require session IDs from site visitors. Search engines like Google do not currently index pages that require them.

INDEXABLE CONTENT/TAG ISSUES:

11. Position indexable text content as high up in the source code as possible.

12. Aim for a high text-to-code ratio – use as little markup as possible to realize the site’s design. Avoid using tables for layout.

13. Do not embed text in graphics or Flash.

14. Use Flash sparingly. Flash intros, etc., are now a-dime-a-dozen. Site visitors are no longer impressed by “dancing bears”.

15. Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element on a page (e.g. alt tags for images, and longdesc when necessary).

16. Build at least some web pages with the ability to easily add new content. Search Engines love new content and re-index websites more frequently and rank them higher because of it. Ideally, these will be the pages best suited for optimization and at the top of the directory tree.

FINAL NOTES:

17. Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing your entire site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

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