Friday, January 21, 2011

Coding a Design: SEO Best Practices and Mistakes to Avoid

For any online business, website has become the foremost important asset. It is really indispensable that it should be designed and developed in a way that it facilitates and boost the business activities and ultimately become the revenue generating medium for the business. For this, it is quite important that the website has to meet all your specific business requirements and latest trends of social media. One of the important factors which adds to the success of the website is its organic rankings. Getting ranked higher on search engines (for certain important business specific keywords) is an important way to find the potential customers of any business.
Making a website is not a single stage phenomenon. But it has different stages. Different aspects of website designing and development contribute to making website a success. PSD to HTML is an important part of web development.
Let’s see how it helps to make a website search engine friendly. Scroll down to see the SEO best practices that can be incorporated in the coding part and mistakes to avoid while coding.

SEO Best Practices

Important Keywords in Title Tag

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Title tag is indeed an important factor to rank a website higher on the search engine result pages. You need to place important keywords in the title tag. Even if you don’t want to do just keywords stuffing, you can keep some interesting, business relevant and eye catching caption that can actually grab the attention of the potential customers. But it ought to have few business specific keywords so as to appear in the searches when the searcher type in the particular keyword so as to get the names of all the service providers/ product makers. Even, if you have chosen to keep a unique title tag, you need to search first for that tag in all major searched to check and avoid the replication if it exist. Try to compress all your keywords in the first 60-70 characters of the title tag because Google does not even index after that.

Use Unique Page Titles

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All the pages in a website should have a separate title attribute and it has to be unique. If you are keeping the same title attribute for all the pages, and then search engines, by default, make out an assumption that there is same subject in all of the web pages. In order to keep away from this kind of confusion, place different unique titles in all the web pages.

Meta Attributes

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Meta description and keywords also play an important role and facilitate search engine optimization. It helps the search engine crawlers to better locate a web page. Meta description is like a mini ad for any website. It briefly describes about what the website is all about! You may add some important keywords and need to describe the website in few words. It will also show up in the SERPs along with the title tag and hence carries huge importance. Also, with this, you need to write meta keywords that also help in search engine optimization of the website.

Images should be tagged too!

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If you think that there is no need to tag the images, then my friend, you are at fault. Even images help in the search engine optimization of the website. Make use of alt tag to briefly describe the image. Search engine crawlers can’t see the image, however they can read the tags attached. You may lose significant amount of traffic if you have not done this.

Avoid using Generic Links

Avoid using the generic terms to give links to other web pages. This may lessen the probability of getting clicks. Like if you are giving a hyperlink to “Learn more about SEO”, then it is more recommended than to using simply “Learn more”.

Wise Choice of Anchor Text of Links

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We usually build up good number of incoming and outgoing links. It is very important that you make a wise choice of anchor text of links. The anchor text is the text which is kept between <a> tag. It should briefly describe about where the link is taking the visitor to. This is even more important for search engines because it tells its crawlers where the link is going.

Use Ajax Rarely

Ajax has been found to be quite useful to enhance the users experience by generating dynamic pages that are the representations of powerful web apps. The major problem with Ajax sites is that while Googlebot is great at following and understanding the structure of HTML links, it can have a difficult time finding its way around sites which use JavaScript for navigation. Similarly to Flash, Ajax makes it tough for the search engine bots to crawl if it has not been implemented tactfully. While we are working to better understand JavaScript, your best bet for creating a site that’s crawlable by Google and other search engines is to provide HTML links to your content. So Buddy! If you have just started working on a website, it is better to make up its navigation structure using HTML links. Then, once you have the site’s pages, links, and content in place, you can spice up the appearance and interface with Ajax. With this, Googlebots would be happy to see their friendly HTML codes, while your visitors can take out the benefits of designing with Ajax.

Robots.txt File

Creating a robots.txt file is really important for search engines to effectively navigate and index a website. It is said that well written robots.txt files can go a long way in improving the search engine rankings by passing on important information to the search engine bots. It simply tells crawlers what to crawl and what no to. It avoids relating the irrelevant things to the website which let the website to look quite professional and clean in the eyes of search engine crawlers.

Proper use of heading tags

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You need to make a proper use of header tags. These play an important role in making a website search engine friendly. Basically, there are six levels for header tags i.e from h1 to h6. The <h1> tag represents the largest font size and thereby the size decreases with each next level header tag. Search engine gives significant importance to these header tags because they define the pathways within the website.

Site Accessibility and Usability

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These days, people access Internet through number of devices like smartphones, laptops, mobile phones, iPads, palmtops and so on. So, it is very important to check the accessibility of your websites on all these browsers. For this, you need to ensure the validity of HTML coding, functionality of pages, uptime of server etc. If you are lacking on all these issues, your website may look not as pretty as you want to be, this may annoy your visitors. Remember, an annoyed visitor is a lost visitor. On the similar note, if your website has poor usability, you might lose some of your potential customers.

Mistakes That Need to be Avoided While writing HTML and CSS

Well! It is not only about beginners who commit mistakes while writing HTML, even experts do errors in coding due to carelessness or might be due to lack of knowledge. So, we have enlisted all those mistakes that usually become a part of our project work, but that we need to avoid :

Improper Closing and Nesting of Tags

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This error is quite common specially in beginners, but not so less common in experts. There are number of tags that need to be closed, otherwise these can distort your HTML structure and hence can affect the accessibility and usability of the website. Not just this, it is very important to open and close tags in the proper order. The tag which is opened first need to be closed first.

Capitalizing Tags

This happens to be a bad practice, but however it does not affect the validity of HTML coding. But just to sooth the eyes of search crawlers, make it a habit of writing all the tags in lowercase.

Incorrect DOCTYPE!

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Since new browsers can handle more complicated things. In order to let your browser know what type of html you’re using, you need to call a specific DOCTYPE. This will make them learn how to display your content. It could be HTML 4.0 or XHTML and that too strict or transitional. The browser cannot make a guess out of it.

No Encoding of Special Characters

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You need to be particular about writing the special characters. Just by writing it on MS Word and copying it from there to the website content area will not going to work properly in all the browsers. Doing this, can give up some kind of errors in some browsers.

Using Tables for Layout

It is time to upgrade yourself with the latest trends of the web. Tables were quite in use 10 years back. But now we are not using tables anymore. Using CSS would be a great option instead of tables. It will save on your time and efforts. Harness the power of CSS!

Using Automated Coding Software

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In order to increase the efficiency of the work, using automated software seems to be good option. But actually, these are not reliable and cannot match the power of writing the codes manually. The automated coding may not be bug free and may affect the functionality of the website. The codes, thus produced, are sloppy and unprofessional. The probability is quite high that these would not be even able to clear W3C validation.

Mixing Single and Double Quotes (Even Missing it!)

You need to stick either to single quotes or the double quotes. It is a very common practice that developers mix both the quotes that can lead to the errors. Sometimes, we do even miss to close the quotes that can also generate some kind of errors.

Inline Styling

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However, it may not distort your HTML structure or produce any error. But to be at ease in the future and allows easy editing, make a habit to add your CSS codes in a separate CSS file.



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