SEO - Other Important Optimization Factors

ALT Tags
search engine friendly design

ALT Tags

ALT Tags are the small pop-ups that appear when you put the mouse cursor over the images on a website. ALT tags are also used to describe pictures to visitors who may be using non-graphic browsers (ie: for the visually impaired, people that turned images off to increase download speed). ALT tags were designed to allow you to add a description of the graphic element, but because search engines spiders can, and do read them, it’s a great place to add a few more related keyword/phrases to your page, without affecting the readability or visual appeal.

Here’s a standard HTML image tag:  

<img src=”yourlogo.gif” height=”100″ width=”100″ border=”0″ alt=”>

The area we want to enter a description into is between the two question marks after alt=. So we’d end up with something like the following for our basketball shoes example:

<img src=”yourlogo.gif” height=”100″ width=”100″ border=”0″ alt=”Mens basketball shoes at Blueline Shoes“>

By implementing your keyword/phrase with other relevant content, you’re not breaking any rules, just using the tags as they were originally intended.

Caution: Over use of the ALT tags can be a bad thing. You shouldn’t add ALT tags for every little graphic on your site (ie: spacers, etc.).

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Create a Sitemap

One way to ensure that the search engine spiders find all of your important pages is to create a sitemap. A sitemap is like a one-stop checkpoint for the spider; they can easily spider all of your important pages from one central location.

Your sitemap should contain keyword-enriched links to each important page of your site, while still allowing a site visitor the ability to quickly identify areas of the site that they may be looking for.

The ideal situation for your sitemap is to include links to each page on your site. Organize the most important pages as close to the top of the page as possible, especially if you have a lot of pages or if your site design contains a lot of extraneous HTML code. Search engine spiders will generally only spider the first 100k of your page, so you want your most important keywords as close to the top as possible so they are included. It’s also recommended that your sitemap not contain more than 100 links – you should create additional sitemaps if you have more pages than this.

In some instances, such as with dynamic sites, it may be a little more difficult to create your sitemap, but it’s definitely worth it. The best scenario here, is to have your webmaster create a page that dynamically loads each product/page, we suggest using the product/page Title, and a link from that text to its respective page. Having the links created dynamically allows the page to update automatically when new products are added or removed. Using keyword-enriched link text helps boost the resulting page(s) too.

If your site doesn’t contain a lot of pages, it benefits you to add additional content to your sitemap. We suggest creating short descriptions of each page that you’re linking to; not quite as long as your Meta Description, but a quick summary of the page will do. This additional content helps the site in general, as well as the emphasis on the sitemap links.

Once your sitemap page is complete, you’ll want to create a link from every page of your site (where possible) to the sitemap page. Again, this just gives the search engine spiders an easier path to your pages, increasing the likelihood that your pages will be included/ranked.

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Search Engine Friendly Design

One of the worst things a webmaster or designer can do, without even knowing it most of the time, is hamper the efforts of the marketing department by creating a page that does not provide what the search engines are looking for in a clean and organized matter.

The most common problem with Websites is that they are filled with extraneous HTML code; code that could be simplified and/or reduced fairly easily and quickly.

Believe it or not, removing this extraneous HTML code has resulted in improved rankings for some Websites. In addition, reducing the amount of HTML code should make the Website easier to maintain because the individual making the changes will have less “garbage” to sort through. Because the page will be smaller as a result of less code, the amount of packets sent back & forth between server and client computers will be less, which reduces possible glitches with network traffic.

Here are some examples of how a webmaster or designer can help you improve your rankings by removing extraneous HTML code:

  • Simplify HTML formatting – Remove indents and line breaks within the actual code.
  • Reduce use of folders & deep paths– Each time you reference an image, another page, etc. you’re simply adding additional code to the page if the paths to those items are longer. For instance, if you only use a few images on your Website, there’s no reason to use an Images folder, simply put them in the root directory* with your pages. Tip: If your Website is not composed of hundreds of files and images, it would benefit you to put all of the files in the root directory. You don’t necessarily have to create folders for different categories of pages, etc. – they can be “contained” within the same location. Putting all of your files in the root directory has shown to help improve rankings on some sites.
  • External CSS & JavaScript files – This should be a no-brainer, but a lot of designers and programmers still leave the majority of their code on every page; many times from the use of site templates. Items that should be built and referenced externally might include: form validations, DHTML menus, rollover actions, browser detection scripts and others. In addition, use of <font> and <span> tags for each section of text is not recommended; instead, use style sheets.

CSS can also help you reduce your code by handling the actual design of your site; CSS does support <table> formatting and layout structures – for basic structures only. By eliminating all of the <table> related code from your site, you would be virtually left with only text and of course your keywords/phrases.

This section can be summed up quite easily by saying – If the code is not specific to that page and/or it’s used frequently on more than one page, it should be referenced as a separate file. Do not place extraneous code between the <head></head> tags unless absolutely necessary.

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Additional SEO Information (FAQ, Questions, Etc.)