February 18, 2009

Publishing a Website - The Importance of SEO

With the modern software and online technologies that offer simple, ready-to-use website packages, even a child could be a website publisher. But the truth is that publishing a website is not so simple.

Websites created with cheap software by those with no design and coding skills look cheap, unsophisticated and have low chances of performing well in the search engines’ positioning results – those results you get from a search engine when you perform an online search.

Statistically, the search engines deliver to websites more than 40% of the traffic. The rest comes from other online channels like traffic exchanges, banner exchanges, social bookmarking sites, link advertisements, forum signatures and so on.

Publishing a website without respecting even basic principles of search engine optimization causes other problems aside from traffic loss.

Google, the strongest search engine, has a special algorithm to rank sites and a very good barometer of the quality and authority of a website is the Google PageRank.

If you fail delivering quality, people will not link to your site, so Google will consider it less important than the sites that have many links pointing at them and move it lower in the search results. This is something you don’t want to happen with your site.

Experienced web publishers and SEOs concluded a long time ago that “content is king”. This already stereotypic quote could be translated with: “content is the food of the search engines”.

But content alone is not enough. The best content fails to be scanned and indexed in the absence of inbound links.

So when you publish your site, consider the following basic SEO strategies to ensure that your site is getting indexed fast and accurately:

Create a correct code, preferably CSS based. CSS uses external style sheets that will reduce the loading time of a site and also provide for a clean, uncluttered code. A clean code is scanable and the search engine bots will reach to the text (their food) faster than when scanning a table-based website. Try to eliminate unnecessary tables from your design and you already have more chances to rank well in the SERPs than competitors who don’t pay attention to such details.

Don’t publish a site that fails the basic accessibility tests and doesn’t validate when checked with the W3C HTML validator. It’s not a bad practice; it’s just unproductive. Websites that validate are considered by the search engines “accessible”. Users are happy when they find accessible, navigable sites. As the search engines want happy users it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that valid, accessible sites score better in the SERPs than sites that don’t respect any standards.

When publishing your site pay attention at your page title, description and on-page titles and subtitles. Don’t repeat page titles and descriptions to each page of the site. Google tends to index such pages in its supplemental results and that’s another Google box where you don’t want your website to land.

To make a long story short: if you are serious about your online success, treat website publishing with utmost care. Think attention to detail, think keywords and web analytics, but above all, think ethical strategies that will not endanger your site’s existence in the search engines results.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Publishing

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