So we know that search engines have limits to how they crawl the web and interpret web content. In this post we are going to be taking a look at the technical side of creating or modifying websites so that they are optimized for both search engines and humans alike. let’s get cracking with the important steps on how to own a search friendly website.
Let’s get down to it!
In order for your website to be listed on a search engine, all your most important content must be in HTML text format. Other non-text formats such as flash files and Java applications are often ignored or devalued by search engine spiders, regardless of the advances in crawling technology.
Obviously not all websites can be purely text based and so when visual display styles need to be implemented, there are a few steps you can take to optimize visual content:
- Images in certain formats such as jpeg, gif or png can be assigned “alternative text” in HTML. Doing so will provide a text description of the visual content for a search engine to interpret.
- Content containing Flash or Java plug-ins can be supplemented with text on the page.
- Video and audio should be accompanied with a description if what is being said is meant for indexing by search engines.
- You should add navigation and crawlable links to your search boxes.
Want to see your website through the eyes of a search engine?
Many sites often have issues with indexing content. Double checking this is always a worthwhile practice. You can see what elements of your content are visible and indexed by using one of these tools:
Creating Crawlable Link Structures
A crawlable link structure (One that allows search engine spiders to browse the pathways of a website) is crucial in order to be able to find all pages on a website. Many websites make the critical mistake of designing their navigation in such a way that search engines simply cannot gain access, this impacts the engines ability to get pages listed in their indices.
Below is an example of how this may affect your website:
In this example you will notice that Google’s spider has reached the homepage and can see links to the interior pages which follow. The page in the bottom right may be a crucially important page for the site, however the spider has no way of reaching it. This is due to the fact that there is no direct link to this page. As far as Google is concerned, the page might as well not even exist.
There are plenty of reasons why pages may not be reachable, of which some of them include:
- Submission-required forms – If it is a requirement for people to complete an online form before accessing certain content, then chances are search engines will never be able to access those pages. Spiders generally will not attempt to “submit” forms, and as a result these pages will remain invisible to search engines.
- Links on pages with hundreds of links – Spiders will only crawl so many links on any given page, not an unlimited amount. Search engines have done this to cut down on SPAM and conserve rankings. Pages with hundreds of links run the risk of not getting all their links crawled and indexed.
Now that you understand how to own a search friendly website, in the next installment we will take a closer look at keyword usage and targeting, how best to use a title tag.