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How to Make Your Website Search-Engine Friendly

Sep 12, 2013 12:17AM ● By Erin Frisch

In order to keep your website relevant to your target market, readers, and consumers, optimizing your site to make it search-engine friendly is critical. Getting your website to rank high in search engine results is somewhat complicated. Millions of sites on the World Wide Web compete for the top spots, and search engines all have unique and complex formulas to determine which sites will make it to the top of a search. Search engine formulas are carefully guarded and modified often to keep tricky marketers from snatching those positions from deserving sites. In addition, more and more people are performing searches on their mobile devices, adding another layer onto what needs to be built into your site. Check out these simple tips that are sure to make your website friendlier to search engines.

Search engines read text. Do not use images to display important names or content. If your website is picture-rich, video-rich, or Flash-rich, make sure that you write contents to describe each non-text element. If the main content and keywords for your page cannot be formatted in HTML, use ALT attributes to describe each image, video, or flash element. Here is a format you can use: <img src="name-of-image.jpg" alt="Text that describes your image using keywords">

Make your website mobile-search friendly. If your site is actually compatible with mobile devices, register your mobile website with search engines as being “mobile friendly.” In addition, search engines are much more likely to find your site if you add a meta tag that identifies your site as mobile friendly. Include this code in the head region of your page code between the <head> and </head> tags: <meta name="HandheldFriendly" content="True" />

Invite other sites to link to yours. Search engines use text-matching techniques to display pages that are relevant to each search. Links help their algorithms find your site and bump it up in their results. When another page links to yours, it is almost like that page is casting a vote for your website, which makes it seem more important when searched for.

Use relevant title tags. Search engines use title tags (HTML<TITLE>) as part of their search algorithms to determine what your website is about. This is not the same as the title in the body of your page; it is instead the text in the HTML code that displays in the title bar of the window. Be sure to include your site’s main keyword in your title tag, and keep it under 12 words. If you don’t write your own HTML for your webpage, you can usually add or edit the title of the page by changing the text in the title field at the top of your workspace.

Get rid of duplicate content. If your website creates identical copies of the same page under different URLs, this can dilute the results when users search for your page. An example of when this could happen is if you use software that adds session IDs to URLs where every visitor will link to your page using a different URL. Another time when duplicate copies of pages are created is when a site offers “printer-friendly” versions of pages that correspond to a page with graphics. Sometimes if you use blogging software, that software may also duplicate articles. There are a few different ways that you can indicate the preferred (aka canonical) URL. Google has a great tip page to help with this.

When you incorporate these tips, don’t expect instant results. Some search engines can take weeks or even months to reflect changes on web pages. Give them a try, and let us know if you have other tips and tricks for search-engine-friendly websites in the comments below!

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