So you have a website, now what? It's not like potential customers will know your super-fancy.com domain by memory. You need to be found by search engines and while there are many out there, most of your traffic will come from Google.com.
For success in getting crawled and ranked high in search engines, you need to know the basics of SEO = Search Engine Optimization. Basically means what tactics need to be done to get found by search engines. If you are recently designing/redesigning your website, working for yourself or a developer, there's a great add-on for Firefox (firebug) that can assist with review of most of the suggestions below. It's important to take ownership of the project to make sure that acceptable and up-to-date standards are being followed, so your website is not out-of-date right from the beginning.
Here are some guidelines to help your website web pages and relevant content for your audience to get found online:
1. Meta Keywords Tag
The Meta keywords tag is largely ignored by search engines
today. However, this tag can still have a small impact on search engine
rankings. The content of your Meta keywords tag should be approximately 3
to 5 keywords relevant to the page. Simply no point in stuffing it with dozens of keywords.
2. Meta Description Unique to Each Page of your Website
When writing the contents of your Meta description you’ll find that
the best performing contents are those that are unique, not a one-size fit all and accurately
summarize the content of the page.
3. Meta Description Tag Appropriate Length
Search engines will read up to 250 characters
of the content in your Meta description tag, Google only displays
the first 160 characters of the content found in your Meta
description tag. Keep the contents of
that tag to a maximum of 160 characters and write your Meta description to
be short, keyword rich and in a way that will incentivize people to
click on your search result. Google yourself from time to time to review how attractive are your results when they come up on search engines.
4. Title Tag Length & Uniqueness
Your title tag content should be no longer than 70 characters in
length. Search engines only display up to the first 70 characters of the
title tag in your page. The title tag in your page carries a lot of weight in the search
engine algorithm. For your title tag to perform at its best it should be
unique and clearly indicate the content of your page - do not keep standard titles for all pages as this will cost you traffic.
Search engines cannot read the contents of a Flash file. I highly recommend alternate ways of displaying whatever content you have it in flash since most tablets/phones are also unable to display it. Search engines can’t see
if there is any text in the Flash movie or what that text might say. If
you use Flash on your page, make certain to include lots of descriptive
text in close proximity to where the Flash is displayed in your page layout.
Frames in their most basic configuration consist of one web page
within another web page. Search engines cannot make a determination as
to the relationship of each page within frames. Search engines may find
out about an individual web page through a direct link to that page, but
typically the content inside of a frame cannot be indexed by the search
engines through the frameset tag within the source code. Avoid using
frames if you can.
7. Images and Graphics as Text
Search engines are unable to read text embedded into an image file
and are unable to determine a relationship with a graphic that is
hyperlinked to another page or file. For that reason, you need to ensure
that you use a descriptive ALT text attribute in your IMG statement or a
CSS image replacement method. Do not have any image in your page that does not contain an ALT tag.
8. Hidden Text
If you have hidden text on your page using CSS display tricks or if
the font color is the same as the background color and you’re doing that
because you think it will help your search engine rankings, remove the
text from your page immediately. Google may block your page from the search engine results and it will take a while to be re-instated. Hidden text should be avoided unless
it’s displayed through a toggle button tool tip or navigation
9. Tables in Markup
HTML table-based layouts are not nearly as efficient as a CSS-based
layout. The presence of HTML tables within your source code is not going
to have a significantly negative impact on your search engine rankings,
but they do create more code than a CSS-based layout which impacts the
file size of your page. CSS-based layouts are also more beneficial
because they present your content in a format that makes it easier for
search engines to understand the relationship between all of the
elements on your page.
10. HTML Sitemap & XML Sitemap
Your HTML sitemap page should have links to all of the web pages
within your website. Use keyword rich, descriptive anchor text in the
links. Link to your HTML sitemap page from the footer or header of all
pages on your website and you’ll be providing your visitors with a way
to find content on your website and you’ll help the search engines to
find all of your content more easily too.
XML sitemaps are more for machines to read than for humans. They are the
most ideal way to inform the search engines which pages you would like
for them to index. XML sitemap files can help to get pages crawled and