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9 SEO Tips You’ve Probably Forgot About

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SEO Spider Web - Photo by Bansidhe

This is a guest article by David Walsh*.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has, as most of you probably know by now, become one of the most important elements when setting up a website. Still we notice that many website owners, for some reason, tend to neglect implementing it in their creative process. Jacob published an all important SEO rules for designers but there is always lots to learn. I thought that it was about time to write another nine tips on the topic.

1. Proper use of <h1> and <h2> tags

Headers and sub-headers are not only useful for making up a good layout. Search engines do also love it when we use headers. But that is when we use them wisely. This means that you should use them in a way that makes sense – do not spam your site with various headers as it is a sure way of keeping both the search engines and the visitors away. Most important sections of a page should be H1 and H2 and then smaller sections should be H3. H4-H6 are rarely used tags.

2. Remove useless code

The purpose of optimizing your site is to make it as available as possible for all involved – you, the visitors and the search engines. This is just as important when we are talking about the code of the website. Take advantage of an XHTML validator to make sure that all of your code is readable.

If you own a blog and tend to write drafts in MS Office, copying and pasting back into WordPress is a code nightmare. Check the “HTML” tab when in the writing new post page of WordPress; Office adds a lot of garbage code. Remove it. A good alternative is to copy & paste your article into a text editor and then copy and paste the article into your next blog post.

3. Internal linking

Internal linking is a great way of keeping your site user-friendly. Search engines also like to see well placed internal links if they are relevant and serve a purpose. Use good anchor text to your pages and link within strong pages. Also, more than a couple links to the same page have no meaning. Some sites put “hawaiian vacations” three times in a text and link back to the home page. It is not only annoying to the visitor but also worthless.

And most importantly, don’t create orphan pages; pages that are not internally linked anywhere.

4. Footer links are to be kept at a minimum

One type of link that gets close to no attention by the search engines are the footer links. Sure, they are good from an internal navigation purpose but that is about it. You should thus try to keep the bottom based links at a minimum.

Spider Flower - Photo by AussieGall

5. Do not use images as links

As the search engines try to crawl everything on your website, your task is to make it as easy as possible for them. This is the reason why you should not use images (excluding banners) as links. Proper text is much easier for the spiders to read. Another quite common mistake that designers tend to make is embedding much of the important content in Flash, which search spiders obviously will not be able to read. While Google has begun to read websites based in Flash, it is not a good idea to have a site that cannot be searched.

6. Keep the URLs friendly

Not only your domain name and onsite content should be optimised for keywords. Make sure that you implement the same strategy for ALL of your URL strings as it is a great way of increasing your ranking on search engines.

7. Use the noarchive and noindex tags

Some people seem to think that all of their content has to crawled and indexed by the search engines. Pages such as the “About” page and the “Privacy Policy” page are all good to have but there is really no reason for them to be indexed. Make sure that you use the noarchive and noindex tags. And do not go overboard, putting a noindex in the index file of your website means that NOTHING will be found by the search engines. Sounds to dumb to say that? There are a few designer sites encountered that are not indexed by Google because they left an universal no follow tag.

8. Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is beneficial for search engines as well as for the visitors. Since the bookmarks are saved to the web, instead of to your browser, they are easily shared with friends – good for all parties involved. Be careful though, many plugins for social bookmarking have 100 links that pop up and they can break the external link count of a page. Too many external links devalues all the links on a page, so make those social bookmarking icons “nofollows.”

9. Do not overuse Ajax

For some reason many developers and designers seem to feel as if they have to impress their visitors and implement Ajax features all over the place. Big mistake. Ajax will not get indexed by search engines and your visitors will not be able to send the page to their friends, as the URL does not reload.

Recommended SEO Resources

*About the author: David Walsh is a writer over at Web Hosting Search. WHS is a guide to web hosting and tutorials. If you need to get a hosting plan, anything from cheap web hosting, SEO services to server hosting (the big guns), WHS is the place for you.


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63 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Zach Dunn Reply

    Good list! The one “special case” that I would point out is using images as links. If you use an image exclusively as a link, that’s often bad. However with some clever -9999 text indenting, you can use images just about anywhere.

    e.g. ( http://phark.typepad.com/phark/2003/08/accessible_imag.html )

    Thanks for the tips though, I had no idea that footer links got passed over!

  • Gopal Raju Reply

    Thanks for reminding :)

    Gopal Raju,
    productivedreams.com

  • Phaoloo Reply

    Just remember that I know these stuff, thanks for remind.

    One more tip: keep the number of links less than 100 or Google will treat your page as a link farm and you will get Google Penalty soon.

  • James Reply

    “your visitors will not be able to send the page to their friends, as the URL does not reload.”

    This is only true with sub-par implementations. Have a look at gMail… The URL constantly changes to reflect where you are… And it’s using Ajax! :)

    Also, “Ajax” itself is a technique used for content-delivery and interactivity… The content itself and the navigation to that content should gracefully degrade, thus making it accessible to search engines and unsupported browsers.

    The gripes you have with Ajax are probably a result of countless bad implementations you’ve witnessed where people have hopped on the bandwagon along with their favourite JS framework without actually knowing what they’re doing.

    Like everything, it’s okay to use it as long as you know what you’re doing.

  • Web Site Design Philippines Reply

    You also want to put in your keyphrases in title tags. Search engines go crazy over title tags. Just don’t try to stuff the title tag with keywords. Make it user friendly and search engine friendly as much as possible. Thanks for this reminders.

  • Mandy Reply

    Thank you for the post. Another point that is generally over looked by designers and those unaware of SEO is to produce a homepage design that lacks copy. Your homepage should ideally contain at least 250 words, which should be used to reference your keywords and be broken down by and tags.

  • JohnONolan Reply

    Thank god! Finally someone who knows what they’re talking about. Really glad to see a well written, down to earth post about SEO. There are far too many people around talking (and arguing) about techniques and buzzwords that don’t mean anything!

  • JohnONolan Reply

    oh and @raymondselda – the very fact that you put a keyphrase in place of a NAME on your comment shows that you really don’t understand the principle of this post.

  • Raymond Selda Reply

    @johnonolan: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I respect yours. I do apologize if I have offended anyone by putting a keyphrase in place of the author name. I admit that it’s a cheap trick. I’m still learning SEO and so far I’m happy with how everything is unfolding. Cheers.

  • Web Design Va Reply

    Thanks for the post – a nice list of things to always keep in mind when designing a site and keeping it SEO friendly!!

  • Alison Reply

    Thanks for the great post! I’m currently working on building my own website, so this is all very relevant for me.

  • Media Contour Reply

    Awesome tips! Don’t forget about flash-while some designers love flash, it is not indexed and should not be overused. http://website.grader.com is a useful free tool for SEO analysis and takes into account many of the tips you’ve mentioned in this article.

  • james Reply

    Your posts are so original and inspiring. I love coming to your website and reading your articles. Keep up the good works mate

  • David Reply

    @Phaloo – It is the case that Google doesn’t read more than 100 links per page. They will not however call you a link farm if you do. The reason there’s a 100 link limit is that the spider has limited time on the page, following each link adds time.

    The point is if you have a blog, it’s really important to keep the links down. If your blogroll is 30 links, then you have other links like social media, then a top 50 list of something, you could go well past the 100 links marker. Tone them down somehow.

    @Web Site Design Ph – Stuffing keywords is a bad idea. Also is putting keywords in as comment name. People find it unfriendly having a keyword name does Nothing for your site (links in comments carry no SEO value). So don’t do it. You could also get caught by a spam filter like Akismet, they’re getting smarter at those things.

    Hope this helps designers!

  • Faizan Reply

    nice post….very helpful since i am working on my new site and blog :)

  • Oli Thurtle Reply

    Great post and great article. I think one of the main concerns is clean code. Less and less people use programs such as Dreamweaver now, which is a good thing, as it seems to generate a lot of unneeded code (mind you its a lot better than it used to be!)

    The other thing is using images as links, as well as being an absolute nightmare for SEO and the Google Bots, they are a pig to update when you just want a new button!

  • Sam Dunn Reply

    Another thing I try to do is make article titles as conversational as possible as that is the way that most people use Google. Being candid has translated well into the search engines better than cramming as many buzzwords as possible in has.

  • Diario de Mendoza Reply

    muy buena nota, un saludo desde argentina!!!

  • Dainis Graveris Reply

    We really cannot forget about these tips, they are too important for good SEO, yeah. But you put it down nicely here! :)

  • bubbly Reply

    Salaam i am new to the web designing and i liked ur stuff about the seco tecniques and thy are so helpfull thanx for helping others

  • Adi Reply

    Very useful post, I just start to learn about blogging and found this post really helpful for me. Thanks a lot.

  • shaunjudy Reply

    These are some great tips. I had forgot about not using images as links. Even though I have not done this since I started out.

  • Mike Reply

    all sounds really clever and reasonable. there’s quite a lot to add but I am sure that respected author know sit all. Several thing to pay your attention to:
    1. don’t use more than one h1 tags
    2. URL’s (as Google states) should be dash-separated (better than underscore).
    3. images can be used as links and still be good for SEO is alt and title (within a href) tags are used properly
    4. AJAX is not a problem for Google anymore (tested)

    Best regards,
    Mike

  • Privatni smeÅ¡taj Reply

    Well, today I’ve check CSS and XHTML stuff via validator, found 20 errors, and fix them all. Thanks for reminding me.

  • Prince Zermic Reply

    Another SEO strategy is to always link bank to your old articles when doing additional web contents. Make sure that you’re linking back to a related topic. We don’t want to confuse our readers by pointing them to a non related article they are not interested reading. Make your anchor text search engine friendly so that the page will appear in the search result when someone runs a query about it.

  • Brian Renew Reply

    Great post by David. These are obvious tips, but are commonly overlooked. I’ve been working hard getting potential clients to understand SEO and get on board.

    I’ve also been tweaking my site as of late to produce better search engine results.

  • SEO Reply

    I have been into SEO for quite sometime and I admit that I missed some basic tips that you presented. This post really gave me information that I can use for my job.

  • Mikegonkales Reply

    Nice Article…! Finally someone who knows what they’re talking about. Really glad to see a well written…

  • Beth Reply

    This post gave me plenty of information that I needed. Thanks so much!

    //Beth @ the Creative Agency

  • Carlos Reply

    I’m not sure I agree with ‘Footer links are to be kept at a minimum’ Can you show me evidence that led you to state this? Thanks

    • Tony Whittam Reply

      Basic SEO is often completely forgotten about while concentrating on the latest issues around algo updates etc, it’s good to get a reminder every now and then to get down to grass roots again and check all is good there.

  • SEO Website Design Reply

    A website design is wasted if good SEO is not employed.

    Since Google changes their criteria on average about once a day, it’s important that your website is able to “keep up with the times” so to speak.

    The design of your website should therefore be flexible enough to allow you to use updated search engine optimization techniques as new ones become relevant (i.e. as changes in search engine algorithms demand it)

    Very good article David.

  • SEO Junkies Reply

    Nicely written article. The tips were very well explained and articulated!

  • Morgan and Me Creative Reply

    Agh great article…the great grand tips of SEO. Thanks for sharing.

  • heri - tips menulis Reply

    this article is very important to me as newbie in blogging – thank a lot!

  • SEO Glasgow Reply

    You’ve got some really sound advice here. Like you say with the useless code, I’ve come across that exact example plenty of times where a client has made a draft in MS Word and the copied it over.

  • Matt Lickess Reply

    With the proper use of H1 and H2 tags, are H2 tags given much priority over normal tags any more? Of course these elements should be used to properly organise your headings and sections, but is there much SEO relevance to anything other than H1?

  • Niar Reply

    very good recommendation to increase PR.. Thank You for sharing
    *I try to create internal link in my web, how much the influence to increase my rank?

  • Flash Bang SEO Reply

    Brilliant post!

    The sections on footer links and images as links are spot on!

  • Austin Web Design Reply

    Really do not know what else to say. I thank you for sharing my knowledge on. With 2 years doing SEO I thought I already knew most aspects of SEO, but not. Through this article I would have a better overview of SEO. Again thank you sincerely

  • Ilse Venter Reply

    Thank you for sharing these SEO tips. When we design a client’s website we always see to it that we do the On Page SEO correctly…

    Keep on Blogging such good articles

    Ilse


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