Design and Content

Design and Content Guidelines 

Article Audience: Users and Webmasters

As stated in earlier articles, content and the design of the content is critical to the well-being of your site. It is critical to think of the following especially in the planning phase of developing your website, because otherwise it would be too late to reverse certain decisions.

Clear hierarchy and static text links 

Hierarchy of your site should not be too deep (at most 3 links deep). This makes it easier to use, and easier to be crawled by search engines. Also, you should have at least one static link to each page which you want to be reachable and thus indexed. If you make use of a content management system which makes use of parameterised pages, consider using some kind of system which creates Search Engine Friendly (SEF) links to each of your pages. This is especially because not all search engines are able to crawl dynamic pages well.

Provide a Site Map

A site map guides users to the important parts of your site, additionally search engines love site maps, and your position will jump by up to 500 places just by adding a sitemap!

Identify your keywords

Choose the keywords that you want that you want users to hit your site with and use them often in your content. Keywords should form approximately 6% of all the word's indexed in your content. Less than 6% is not enough to reflect a strong bias towards certain keywords, however a percentage of keywords greater than 8% will be seen as an unnatural attempt at creating a bias and will probably be considered as spamming. There are tools which let you analyze the statistics of keywords in your site.

Text Content is King

Crawlers are quite intelligent, and can read a large variety of text formats. And text is what the crawler will be indexing. You can have catchy pictures, flash animations, or thousands of photographs, but unless there is a textual description for each of them, they essentitally do not exist for crawlers (at least for now). So ensure that the useful content you are providing is in a textual format. Take a look at how a typical crawler (example the Googlebot) sees a website at Poodle Predictor. As you can see, the Googlebot strips away all fancy content, images, etc and sticks to the textual content only. So make sure that you have useful, informative content, in a textual format not images or other non textual content. Also make sure that any images TITLE and ALT descriptions are filled with a textual informative information about the content of the images / links etc.

Correctness of content

Ensure that you have no broken links in the site itself. Broken links within your own site shows signs of neglect with obvious consequences. Also, to aid crawlers and browsers make sure that HTML on your website is 100% correct. Broken or incorrect HTML may display incorrectly on browsers and look unprofessional. Even worse than this, it may lead to your site not being crawled completely or correctly. Again use tools available online such as W3C HTML validator.

One more thing...

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