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Search engine friendly websites

While the search engine optimization business has grown within under 10 years as a multi million rand industry google instructs people to create sites for people and not for search engines, this article will teach you what's the difference and the benefits of having a truly search engine friendly website.

How it's often incorrectly done:

Many SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies claim that they will ensure you a top result on any search engine, they mostly use one of the following methods:

  1. Keyword placement

    They ensure that your title tags, meta tags, link tags, page content, image alt attributes and even sometimes page comment contains your keywords. Although it isn't incorrect to do this, overdoing it can get you banned from search engines altogether.

  2. One way, reciprocal or three way links

    They try to get your site linked to from various other related sources, this also isn't banned by search engines, rather, each link to your site is counted as a vote for your site, which in turn increases it's popularity and importance to the engine.

How it should be done:

  1. Quality unique content

    Ensure that your site has quality content. This is the most important aspect of any website's success.

  2. Semantically correct code

    As described in my usability article, correct tags should be used for correct content. IE: a table should contain tabular data and not be used to make the layout of your site.

  3. A user friendly design

    Ensure that your site is cross browser compatible, validates at the w3c, and is easy to use. Ask yourself, if you didn't know this company, would you like to know more based on the content and layout of the site?

What is semantically correct code?

Semantically correct code is the term used to describe code where code is separated from content. The code is used to define the content and nothing else. An excellent article explaining the basics of semantically correct code so that anybody can understand it can be found here:

Benefits of semantically correct code

  1. The main benefit of semantically correct code is that machines can understand your content. If google knows the content of your site exactly, they know when to send relative users your way, which benefits everybody.
  2. Structured code is easy to maintain and easy to update. When your site's visual representation is separate from the content, it is quick and easy to update the look and feel of your site, without making any changes to the code or content. Take a look at for example - we update the site every year or so, without changing anything in the code, all visual representation is done on a separate level.
  3. Another often overlooked benefit of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) based website design is increased download speeds and reduced bandwith usage. That is because all your site's visual elements are stored in the browser cache and needs to be downloaded only once. Quite a nice visual representation of this can be found here:

To conclude this article I want to encourage you that you ensure your chosen web developer uses all the above methods to develop your site. Remember it's your site, your money and your business image that's at stake, and to most developers you are only another source of income - why should they care if your site is successful or not?