Thursday, June 19, 2008

SEO Material Part - 4

Clean design is good design

Cleanliness rules

Clean pages are uncluttered and have a focus, something that draws the eye. They're also easy to navigate.

Some sites are so cluttered with links and information; they're almost impossible to navigate. Not only do visitors dislike these sites, directories such as Yahoo and ODP may reject them. Remember, directories use human editors to do their indexing, so your site's appearance matters.

Netscape vs. Google

You can get a sense of the importance of cleanliness simply by comparing two popular search sites. Visit and you'll see a page cluttered with information. Your eye doesn't know where to look, and finding what you're looking for is difficult. Even the search box at the top of the page doesn't stand out.

Google, by contrast, features a
very clean interface. The focus is on the search box in the middle. Google's popularity has encouraged other search engines to simplify their main pages, making things easier for their visitors. AltaVista, for example, launched new Raging Search -- the same search engine with an extremely clean interface.

Design clean pages

  1. Navigation and clean design
    Portals and other large sites have a particularly difficult time "cleaning up" because they offer so much information.

    Don't make the mistake of using your main page as a cluttered site map. Instead, provide easy navigation to make sure both people and search engines can easily find their way through your site.

  2. Vital information only!
    Put only the most important information on your main page. This can be a new press release or a few links to recently updated sections. If your site is commercial, your main page is a good place to mention any promotions you may be running.

    It's a good idea to put a few links to general categories, such as "products," "research" and "information," on your main page. Include a brief description of each.

  3. How much scrolling can you take?
    If you can fit your home page on one screen, hats off to you! Most sites require more space. Try to keep your home page limited to two screens at most and your other pages to three to four screens.

    Don't write your life story on your front page. No one is going to scroll through 70 pages. If you have a lot of material on your site, break it up into sections of no more than four pages each. You can also give your visitors the option of downloading any big files to their hard drives.

  4. Printer-friendly versions
    Some sites allow users to download printer-friendly pages. These pages are usually free of graphics and navigation and may be long, since they are meant to be read on paper rather than onscreen. Provide your visitors with this option if your site has lots of long articles.

An Overview

Clean design

  • Make home pages look clean

  • Don't make pages more than four screens long

  • Provide printer-friendly versions whenever possible

The importance of pleasant design

To stay or not to stay?

It's important that your site look pleasing to visitors. If your site looks bad, many potentially loyal users won't go past your home page. Get together with your design department to determine the best layout, colors, fonts and graphics for your site.

Remember that editors from Yahoo! And other directories will judge your site's quality.


Aesthetically pleasing sites are difficult to create. After all, a web site has many other tasks besides just displaying pretty colors and fonts. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Above the fold
    Just like any newspaper would place its top story above the fold, place your most important information and navigation on the first screen of each page. This way your visitors can get oriented without having to scroll down.

  2. Which font should I use?
    If possible, try to use Arial or another sans-serif color. Researchers claim these fonts are easiest on the eye when read on screen. They're also the most common fonts and are standard on various computer platforms.

  3. Should I use a picture for my background? What color should it be?
    Avoid using an image for your background. It will probably be large, since it needs to take up the whole screen, so it will slow down your pages' load time.

    Also, research shows that text printed over background images is harder for the user to read. The best combination for reading is
    a white background and black letters. If you prefer to use other colors, keep the background light and the font dark.

  4. Web-safe colors
    There are 216 colors that are displayed by web browsers as you see them on your own computer.

    By using web-safe colors you can be sure your visitors will see what you meant for them to see.

An Overview

Designing pleasant pages

  • Create pleasant-looking pages to retain visitors

  • Use a light background

  • Use web-safe colors

  • Use Arial or other sans-serif fonts

The importance of fast design

Don't make them wait

If your visitors have to wait 30 seconds for your site to load, you can be sure you're losing half your audience. These days there are plenty of sites that load far more quickly, and users naturally prefer those. Reducing the amount of time it takes for your site's front page to display completely can help you hang onto users. This is called optimizing your site's load time.

Think "fast" when designing pages

  1. The four-GIF rule
    Images increase load time, so if possible, use no more than four images on your home page.

    There may be some images you need to use for aesthetic purposes, but use them sparingly. Don't reach for Photoshop every time you need something done; use fancy text or tables with colored backgrounds instead.

    A cure for the graphics-heavy site
    If you can't figure out how to reduce the number of images on your site, create a text-only version of the most important pages (or the whole site if possible).

    Text pages save time for those with slow connections and allow the 25% of users who still use text-only browsers to view your site. Text pages can also help your rankings with those search engines that don't recognize images or ALT tags.

  2. File formats
    There are many different file formats available for graphics on the web, but certain types are preferable to others.

-Avoid using .bmp (Paint) files, which are very large.

Avoid .psd (Photoshop) files, .png (Portable Network Graphics) files and other files with less common extensions -- not all browsers support them.

-Use .jpeg or .jpg files for photographs or other complex art and save the .gif and animated .gif formats for simpler files.

  1. New multimedia
    With so many new multimedia options, such as Flash and Director, it's hard to know how multimedia will impact your site's load time. Before you spend long hours building a full-blown sound and video extravaganza, ask yourself if the technology you're using reinforces your content and your message. If the only reason to use it is because it's cool, it's probably not justified.

    The good news is that optimized Flash and Director files will not slow your site down -- at least, not by much. This doesn't mean you should make every user watch that cool Flash intro on your site. (Reread the foregoing sentence again and again.) Always provide your visitors with the option of skipping an intro and going straight to the site proper.

An Overview

Designing fast-loading pages

  • Think "fast" to retain visitors

  • Consider file formats when designing

  • Find ways to reduce the number of images on your home page

  • Use multimedia effects wisely

Importance of keywords

Most techniques to improve your search engine rankings have one thing in common -- keywords. Choosing appropriate keywords is extremely important. Think about it: Keywords are what lead search engine users to your site.

How to choose your keywords

Choosing the right keywords is the first step to better search engine positioning. Analyze your business carefully and think of all the words that relate to your company or product.

Let's say you sell CASH BACK. What words would you search for when looking for the same product? Ask your colleagues and friends to think about the same question. This is perhaps the most important stage in your war for a spot in search engines' top 20.

As you think about keywords, consider the following:

  1. Who needs your service?
    Think about who will use your services, then target them with keywords. For example, people whose dogs are about to have puppies will need CASH BACK, so you can add phrases like "
    dog pregnancy" and "puppy health" to your list.

  2. Include variations of your keywords
    People will search for your site using all sorts of keywords. Making your site easy to find means including misspelled, capitalized and plural keywords. Always include the longer forms of keywords too. For example, use "domestication" as well as "domestic."

  3. Avoid wrong keywords
    Do not use "stop words" -- particles like "and" and "the" and common words like "Internet." Remember, the more specific your keywords are, the better the chance that people who find your site through search engines will actually benefit from its content.

What are the best places for keywords?

  • HTML Title

  • Text of the page

  • Meta description

  • Meta keywords

  • ALT tags

  • Comment tags

  • URL name

Alphabetical priority and its influence

Whether a file name starts with A or Z can have a surprising effect on a site's search engine rankings. Some small search engines still use alphabetical priority as a ranking factor. Directories such as Yahoo! And Open Directory Project list sites in alphabetical order.

Be careful choosing keywords. If all your keywords don't relate to your sites content you risk being penalized for spam. Don't include "MP3" and "Pokemon" in your keyword list if you sell CASH BACK. Sure, it will drive up traffic temporarily, but it can also get your site rejected from important search engines.

An Overview


  • Choose appropriate keywords -- it's critical

  • Include variations of keywords, such as misspelled versions

  • Avoid stop words

  • Place keywords throughout your site

You know that keywords should go be in your HTML title and Meta tags, but did you know that you also need to place them in heading tags?

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