I recently asked the crew here at flyte for any specific queries they had about SEO. One of our Web Developers, Gloria Maher, asked if I could make some sort of checklist for the design/development team as far as search engine optimization. Of course I can, Gloria – I’ve always loved making lists!
There are hundreds of points I won’t include here – like basic usability and design standards (use a reliable web host, use alt tags, use hyphens instead of underscores for files names, use text links not image links, etc.). These are all pretty basic and can be found simply by googling “website best practices.”
Instead, I’ll list the top six that I’ve found most important thus far in my SEM education. I have combined several sources in order to create the following list, from LockerGnome and Dan Thies’s SEO Training in Dallas.
- Question every link. It is thought that too many links can negatively impact a site’s ranking. If there are over 150 links on a site, there is a possibility that this will exceed a spider’s crawling limits. So cut back on those links!
- Use a sitemap. As with many ideas in SEO, sitemaps are controversial. Sitemaps are used by spiders, and rarely by users. Since they are linked from the homepage (typically the footer is a good spot to stick them), they give tertiary (or 3rd tier) pages the feel of a secondary page, and thereby much better rankings!
- Use robots.txt. Spiders look for a robots.txt file in root directories. So put one in, and avoid 404 errors from building up on you!
- Dynamic linking. You can use “nofollow” tags in your code to keep spiders from rooting through certain pages (privacy pages, shopping cart pages, etc. are usually the type to use this for). Be careful no to use too many of these tags, it could be a red flag for search engines.
- Creating equality for tertiary pages. Typically, secondary pages have equal PageRank, but it is more difficult for 3rd tier pages. In order to do so, be sure that pages are distributed as evenly as possible at the third level. (Again, a sitemap will definitely help!)
- It’s the first link that counts. When multiple links on a page link to the same spot, it is only the FIRST link that search engines pay attention to. That means that this is the one you want to use your best keywords on! (I’ll make another post describing a few easy fixes for this problem.)
Of course, this list does not include every measure that a developer has to take in order to help in an SEO campaign, but it will definitely get you started.