Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The SEO Road Map to Success (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our series about SEO best practices we discussed maintaining correct source code standards. We talked about CSS, AJAX, ALT attributes, Page file size, JavaScript, and Meta tags. Now we're going to delve even deeper and talk about some of the often overlooked elements within a website as it relates to search engine optimization.



Search engines cannot read the contents of a Flash file. They can't see if there is any text in the Flash movie or what that text might say. If you use Flash on your page, make certain to include lots of descriptive text in close proximity to where the Flash is displayed in your page layout.


Frames in their most basic configuration consist of one web page within another web page. Search engines cannot make a determination as to the relationship of each page within frames. Search engines may find out about an individual web page through a direct link to that page, but typically the content inside of a frame cannot be indexed by the search engines through the frameset tag within the source code. Avoid using frames if you can.

Graphics as Text

Search engines are unable to read text embedded into an image file and are unable to determine a relationship with a graphic that is hyperlinked to another page or file. For that reason, you need to ensure that you use a descriptive ALT text attribute in your IMG statement or a CSS image replacement method.

Hidden Text

If you have hidden text on your page using CSS display tricks or if the font color is the same as the background color and you're doing that because you think it will help your search engine rankings, remove the text from your page immediately. Hidden text should be avoided unless it's displayed through a toggle button tool tip or navigation interaction.


If you have lengthy content that is split into multiple pages, this can make it more difficult for search engines to find and crawl all of your content. Sometimes pagination is necessary, but try to avoid needing it. If you really need to use pagination, then read this excellent article about how to optimize pagination on your website for Google.


404 Pages

Your web server should return a 404 header response for URL's that do not exist on your website. This indicates to search engines that the page does not exist and should not be included in their search results. Sometimes web servers are misconfigured to return a "Found OK" 200 header response. Test your web server using this free header response tool to find out how your web server responds to non-existent URL's.

HTML Sitemap

Your HTML sitemap page should have links to all of the web pages within your website. Use keyword rich, descriptive anchor text in the links. Link to your HTML sitemap page from the footer or header of all pages on your website and you'll be providing your visitors with a way to find content on your website and you'll help the search engines to find all of your content more easily too.


The rel=canonical tag tells the search engines what page URL should be used in the event that a page can be accessed through different URL's. Be sure to use the rel=canonical tag consistently throughout every web page so that you can avoid issues with duplicate content.

XML Sitemap

XML sitemaps are more for machines to read than for humans. They are the most ideal way to inform the search engines which pages you would like for them to index. XML sitemap files can help to get pages crawled and indexed. You can read more about XML sitemaps here.


Domain Parking/Forwarding/Aliasing

Lots of people and companies register a secondary domain name and either park, forward or alias it to their primary domain name. For example a company may own a .com and then register the .net variant of their domain. The problem that often happens is that the secondary domain name is incorrectly forwarded or aliased to the primary domain using a "Temporarily Moved" 302 header response. The correct way is to use a redirect that returns a "Permanently Moved" 301 header response.

Keywords Within Domain Names

Generally, if you're running a business, it's not a good idea to register a lengthy domain name that is loaded with keywords because it just looks silly. However, if your company name contains one or two keywords with high search volume, then it might make sense to register a domain name with your company name in it. Search engines do place some weight on the words that appear in your domain name, making it sometimes easier for your website to achieve high rankings for those keywords.


Link Consistency

When you link internally from one page on your website to another page on your website be consistent with your link anchor text. Use the same key phrase you are targeting within the anchor text in each link pointing to that page from other pages on your website. Also, be consistent with the URL you are using in each link. If there is more than one URL that you can use to access the same page on your website, pick one URL and stick to it. If you are consistent with your links internally, your pages will perform better in the search engines.

Link Siloing

The way in which you organize the content on your website, whether you group it together and link to it in bulleted lists or you display it in a hierarchical drop down menu, doing so will help the search engines to understand and make associations between your content and what your pages are about. Just be certain to keep your content organizational depth at a minimum to make sure your best content is not forgotten deep inside your website.

Site Depth

Your most useful content should be at most two clicks away from the home page. Your home page typically will attract the most back links pointing to it. By keeping your most useful content no more than two clicks from your home page you'll be assigning more link value to that content and it will perform better in the search engines.

* This article is part 2 of a 3-part series. To be continued.


About the Author: Brendon Turner is co-founder of Feeling overwhelmed by all of this SEO stuff? Leave it to the Pro’s at Web Development Company Inc.. Request a Free SEO Analysis and receive a detailed report of your website, including tips to improve your SE rankings and traffic.

Source: SiteProNews * April 11, 2012 * Issue #1681

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