A look at the key roles that navigation, linking, design, and content play in Web site optimization.
Although on-site optimization is only one part of SEO (define), it's still essential to ensure your site is built in a search-engine "amenable" way.
But is it necessary to adhere to every tenet preached by SEO experts? Are there certain processes or practices that you should definitely follow and others that are nice to have?
Companies should try to adhere to specific practices when building a Web site. There are three key areas to consider when optimizing a Web site: navigation/linking, design, and content.
A site's navigation plays a key role in whether search engine spiders can crawl and index the site's content. Your internal linking structure should be well designed so users and search engines know where to go, how to get from one page to the next, and where they are in the site at any point during their journey.
Ensuring that all links are keyword rich will help the search engines better understand the content on the destination page and increase the likelihood of being associated with those keywords. So instead of linking to another page with the common terms "click here" or "find out more," you should hyperlink the keywords associated with that page.
Your Web site's architecture, layout, and design can significantly impact your search engine potential. Ideally, you have an SEO expert consult at every stage of the Web site design and development to ensure that your Web site is built from the ground up with SEO best practices. Specifically, SEO consulting on design/development should occur during the following stages:
Search engines use the content on your site to determine how it fits into their indexes. Based on the content or copy on site, the search engine will determine which keyword phrases this site should surface for in the results.
For this reason, wherever possible, a site shouldn't attempt to cover a wide variety of topics, but be relatively narrow-focused so that the search engines can categorize it more easily. For the same reason, you should take steps to ensure the on-page copy and behind-the-scenes tagging is well-aligned with appropriate keywords for your product.
Specific keyword research should ideally be undertaken for each important page of the site. Ideally, this takes place in advance of copy development, so that the copywriter can attempt to naturally integrate these terms into the page content. The SEO specialist should then review the draft copy and make any further recommendations for keyword integration, where appropriate.
In the earlier stages of site development, you should have already ensured that the content on each individual page establishes a hierarchy so that you can alert the engines to the most important/relevant content. The SEO specialist then reviews the page content to make sure that these key hierarchical elements include the keywords targeted for that page:
Although not exhaustive in terms of the potential optimization techniques at your disposal, this outline hopefully has given you a few rules to abide by when building or revamping your site. By considering these three key elements -- navigation/linking, design, and content -- you'll be well on your way to creating a search-engine friendly Web site.
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Julie is a member of the senior strategy team at Klick Health, focused on online media and digital. Julie initially established and led the media practice at Klick for several years, relinquishing leadership to expand beyond media into additional digital tactics. She brings a wealth of experience in search marketing, digital media, and all facets of digital strategy to bear, helping Klick's clients develop innovative digital solutions. As her role has evolved, so have her contributions to ClickZ, which she has been writing for since 2007.
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