Search Engine Optimization

One of my hobbies is Search Engine Optimization. I am trying to keep this page in the top 5 on a google search for “Heerema”. I am competing with Heerema Group, an international engineering firm, and Heerema Company, another large American engineering company.

Isn’t ironic then, that I ignore one of the major things google looks for: fresh content? :) Well, I found this gem today.

Digital Web Magazine has a helpful article on on Search Engine Optimization by Alan K’necht. He starts with a great quote that is at the root of my frustration with Content Mangement systems where users control more than just the text they enter. (font, style, formatting).

There is a lot you can do to optimize your Web site for search engines from the code level. Where you can also affect things, and this is beyond the work of the developer/designer, is in the actual content. Understanding how to tag the content, and where to place it in the HTML, is critical.

He then gives 10 helpful hints, which I will outline here:

  1. The first rule of SEO is not to design your site in such a way that the code prevents a spider from being able to index it. (all graphics, no text; flash only)
  2. To find out what a spider sees on your site, run a spider simulator on a given page.
  3. Each Web site should have a file called robot.txt. This file tells the spiders what directories they should not spider.
  4. Determine the main topic of the page and use it as the title.
  5. Write a unique description for each page. If you use the same meta tag across all pages, the search engine will pick up on this and potentially ignore the content of the meta tag or possibly the entire page.
  6. Put all your JavaScripts in external files and link to them.
  7. Search engines love content that appears in header tags (h1, h2, etc.) yet very few Web sites actually use them.
  8. Instead of spending all that time creating mouseovers, trying using the hover feature of CSS.
  9. Avoid unnecessary tables where possible. Limit your table embedding to a depth of three.
  10. Use either or to mark up important words on your page. While most people use bold, according to the W3C the correct markup is <strong> for important words.
  11. By following this basic outline, you’ve created search engine-friendly pages. Your pages will be easily indexed by the search engine spiders, and, with important words and phrases appropriately tagged, those words will receive proper valuation by the search engines. All that�s left is to identify the appropriate words in the Web site copy and to find out if they are the words people actually search for�then develop an appropriate linking strategy. Those are lessons for another day.






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