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14 things you need to know about SEO friendly site design

James A. Martin | March 15, 2016
Search engine optimization experts bust four common myths about search friendly website design and share best practices for SEO in 2016.

Document labels include such elements as HTML title tags, which are still important because they tell search engines what Web pages are all about, and URLs. "Search engines want the shortest URL that communicates what a page is about," Thurow says. A site's URL structure is also important for making content more easily accessible to users, she says.

Search engine friendly site URLs are short but descriptive; they use natural word order; they have hyphens instead of underscores; they have only lowercase characters; and they contain no "stop words" such as "but," according to Thurow.

5. Search friendly sites use image-file content labels

It's important to use image-file names, Thurow says. "Graphic image search is very important for users," she says. "If they don't know the right name or keyword that describes what they're looking for, they do an image search." Image file names should be concise and descriptive, so they help both users and search engines find desired content.

6. Search friendly sites use quality keywords

There's been some talk in recent years, given various Google algorithm updates, that suggests keywords are no longer an important ingredient for organic, on-page SEO. However, keywords are still significant to both search engines and users, according to Thurow.

"Users follow an information 'scent' from the search engine to your site, and if they don't see those keywords in your labels, they may hit the back button," Thurow says. She recommends placing keywords in a number of places, including within HTML title tags; visible body copy, especially text at the top of a Web page; text in and around hypertext links; and in domain and file names. "Use keywords frequently on pages so that your content appears focused, but don't overdo it."

7. Every page on search friendly sites is a point of entry

When search engines send Web surfers to sites, they typically land on pages in the middle of the sites, not the home pages, Thurow says. So it's important to provide clear, consistent labeling and navigation on all pages.

8. Search friendly sites have contextual links for navigation

Contextual links help users navigate to other site content that is contextually relevant to the content they view, and the links complement existing navigation systems by giving visitors more navigation choices. Effective contextual links help your site gain "more stickiness" with users, which in turn can help compel them to share your content on social media, Thurow says. When used excessively, however, contextual navigation can "create clutter and confusion."

Lands' End's website makes good use of contextual links, according to Thurow. A company page focused on a men's polo shirt, for instance, includes clearly presented, vertical links to similar shirts other customers bought. However, Thurow says such contextual links would be even more effective on the left-hand side of the page.

 

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