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Websites for Search Engines or People?

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Who is more important to you as a webmaster: the visitor or the search engine?

Needless traffic may be important to websites that seek advertising revenue (well, they too need targeted traffic) but you need traffic that caters to your requirement. So for a successful website, both are important. Search engines send relevant visitors to your website and visitors do business with you. Both should be an important factor when you sit down and plan the architecture of your website. The misconception that lots of senseless traffic is good for business has been shattered.

Your website should read convincing both to your target visitors, and the search engines. In fact, you should treat search engines too as your visitors because if you optimize for your visitors, you automatically optimize for the search engines. Once you follow the steps listed below, there is a big chance that you’ll create a website optimized both for the search engines and your visitors.

Well-written content

Both visitors and search engines like well-written content. In fact every one of us appreciates an interesting read. There used to be a time when lots of crap took place to please search engines. Lots of keywords and phrases were stuffed needlessly into the web pages to make them rank higher. Scores of “doorway” pages were created to lead visitors to websites. They made search engines happy but confused the visitors, nullifying the advantage and ultimately, forcing the search engine companies to alter their search algorithms.

But what really matters is the quality content. If you have no content, or irrelevant content, what’s the use of getting hundreds of visitors daily? You need to have website content that is user-focussed; you need a web copy that talks to the visitors. The copy on your website needs to supply the information your visitors need to arrive at some decision. The content should be written in an interesting manner, in an absorbing manner. All the information that your visitor should get, should be there on your website, in a straight, non-cryptic language.

This re-affirms that professional content developers are as important as professional web developers, if not more. Badly written content can prove costlier than you can imagine.

Well-connected pages

All your pages should be accessible to both people and search engines. When the search engines visit your website, they should be able to jump from link to link. It should be like an inter-connected network where one can go anywhere from anywhere. Many web developers create a sitemap that contains links to all the pages on the website so that once the search engine finds that page it can go to all the links on the page.

Anyway, irrelevant pages have no business being on your website and relevant pages should be within one or two clicks away from your visitors (unless they are password-protected).

Less use of frills

Frills like Flash and DHTML look cool but if they don’t solve any purpose other than let you show-off how you can make geometric figures dance around the screen, you should avoid using them. The search engine crawlers like the plain-vanilla text. Showcase frills only if you’re selling them (if you’re a Flash designer or a graphic artist). A company selling organic manure doesn’t benefit much by having a Flash website that shows bags of manure appearing here and there like apparitions.

Use keywords sparingly

The search engine companies have finally realized that actual content is better than nonsensical repetition of keywords. Of course keywords are important, but not because they are “keywords”, but because they are needed there. For instance, if you sell organic manure, you have this phrase on your website because you need to specify what you sell (unless you belong to some underground organization that uses coded language to communicate).

There is no need for a keyword or a key-phrase to appear more than three or four times on your page. In fact on Google you spoil your ranking if you use keywords excessively. Let them appear at the top, somewhere in the middle, and then in the end. That does the trick. Weave around them a nice context. There are people who do this as a profession and it really pays in the long run to hire a content writer who can write optimized content for you.

Update frequently

Both search engines and people like updated content. If your visitors expect to see new content on your website whenever they come, they’ll come again and again, and they’ll come with greater frequency. Search engines too want to show content that is rapidly updated so that they can display the latest information. Make it a routine to put something new every second or third day, even if it is one paragraph.

Use clean HTML

Clean code loads quicker and gets crawled (this sounds creepy!) by the search engines faster. If the success of your website really matters to you and if you want to create your own web pages instead of hiring a professional web developer, you should spend at least a few days learning HTML. A search-engine friendly website doesn’t need much HTML to learn and it will show clean content to your visitors without unnecessarily increasing the load time. Avoid using graphical tools and use a text editor instead. It sounds daunting in the beginning but once your realize its benefit, you’ll be more than eager to write HTML rather than use a tool that produces lots of unnecessary junk code.

The efforts mentioned above take time to show result, but they are long lasting and they fetch you the desired results.

Amrit Hallan is a freelance copywriter,
and a website content writer. He also dabbles
with PHP and HTML. For more tips and tricks in
PHP, JavaScripting, XML, CSS designing and
HTML, visit his blog at

http://www.aboutwebdesigning.com

Websites for Search Engines or People?
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