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Web Design Tutorials - Advanced Design Considerations

Search Engine Preparation and Positioning

Understanding the search engines can be as daunting an undertaking as you choose to make it. Not only is the information endless, but it is constantly being changed as the search engines refine their ranking algorithms and criteria. The following community forum contains a vast amount of search engine information, although you might become rather overwhelmed trying to digest all of it:

Search Engine Forums

Here are a few of the basic steps to preparing your site for the search engines; enough to get you up and running:

  • Don't spam! In the eyes of the search engines, spam includes using keywords that are not relevant to your page, hiding text that is the same color as the background, over-submitting pages, dynamically routing search engine spiders to pages that are designed specifically for them (cloaking), etc.
  • META tags - These are the portion at the top of your HTML code on each page -- keywords and description are the main two. META tags are losing importance as search engines look to other criteria such as link popularity (number of sites linking to yours) and page content.
  • Keyword Density - Use your main keywords (those that are most relevant to your site content) regularly throughout the pages to reinforce their relevancy to the search engine spider.
  • Use of Frames - The pros and cons of frames were discussed previously. In short, using frames will not help your search engine submitting and will quite likely hurt it.
  • Probably the two most important search engines to be listed in are not actually search engines, rather human edited directories. These are Yahoo! and The Open Directory Project. Because all submissions are human reviewed, you must pay special attention to the appearance of your site, not just the underlying structure.

Now that you know the basics, here is some advice that might shock you: Do it once and forget about it! If you do things right the first time around, you will do well with the search engines for many months or years to come. Forget the hype about submitting to every little search engine out there. Get listed in a few of the main ones like Yahoo!, Google, dmoz, and Excite, and you will quickly find your site showing up in every other directory that siphons off them.

Why am I telling you this? Consider the alternatives. You could easily make search engine positioning a full time job, trying to keep up with the latest ranking algorithms and submission guidelines. Just like investing in the stock market is best accomplished through careful planning and hands-off patience, search engine positioning can be quite a day to day roller coaster if you let it. Why subject yourself to the stresses of such ups and downs with the likelihood of little added benefit, when you could be focusing your time and talents elsewhere?

You're Done!

Give yourself a pat on the back, you've completed the AbleDesign Web Design Tutorials. You have graduated to testing, updating, and constantly refining your site! I hope you have found this series useful. Please send any feedback to dan@abledesign.com. Thank you, and best of luck with your online endeavors.

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