Ten Steps To A Well Optimized Website - Step 3: Site Str

Welcome to part three in this search engine positioning series. Last
week we discussed the importance and considerations that much be made
while creating the content that will provide the highest ROI for your
optimization efforts. In part three we will discuss the importance of
site structure.

While there are numerous factors involved with the search engine algorithms,
site structure is certainly of constant importance. Cleaner structure
that removes lines of code between your key content and the search engine
spiders cna mean the difference detween second page and first page rankings.

Over this series we will cover the ten key aspects to a solid search
engine positioning campaign.

The Ten Steps We Will Go Through

  1. Keyword

  2. Content

  3. Site Structure

  4. Optimization

  5. Internal Linking

  6. Human Testing

  7. Submissions

  8. Link Building

  9. Monitoring

  10. The Extras

Step Three - Site Structure

Developing the structure of your website is a very important step in
its overall optimization. The site structure will dictate how the spiders
read your site, what information they gather, what content holds the most
weight, how much useless code they must weed through and more. You must
structure your website to appeal to the visitor and the spiders.

When developing your website you want to be sure not to create useless
code that can confuse spiders and take away from the content of your site.
When developing your site I recommend hand coding as the best option however
not everyone has the time or the skill to do this so I would suggest Dreamweaver
as a great option. (Though the code will not be as clean as hand coding
it does not create an over the top amount of extra code like programs
such as Front Page do.) The object here is to keep the code as clean as
possible! Remember the more code you have the more the spiders must weed
through to get to your content, where you want them to be.

A great way to cut down on extra code as well is to use style sheets.
You can use style sheets in ways as simple as defining fonts or as advanced
as creating tableless designs. There are many ways to use style sheets
and the biggest perk to using them is to cut back on the code on any given
individual page. When you are setting up the initial structure of your
site you want to be sure that the table structure is laid out in such
a way that the spiders can easily and as quickly as possible get to the
most important content.

A great way to attain this is to create your website using the table structure
outlined in my article "
target="_blank">Table Structures For Top Search Engine Positioning
When the spiders visit your site they read through it top to bottom, left
to right following the rows and columns. The key to the table structure
outlined above is the little empty row. Were this row not there the spiders
would read through that first column hitting nothing but images and Alt
tags, your navigation, until it would then move onto the next column, your
content area. Placing this empty cell in the first row of the main table
guides the spiders directly to your content, they hit the empty row and
with nothing to read move onto the next column to the right, where you want
them. After they have read your content they will then move back to the
left in row 2 and read your navigation images and Alt tags, finally they
will end the page at your footer, a great place for keyword rich text links.
(Internal linking structures will be covered in part 5 of this 10 part series.)

Once you have created the site structure and inserted all of your content
you will then begin the basic optimization of your site. In your code
you will want to create Meta tags that fit your keyword choice. The two
most important Meta tags are the Description tag and the Keyword tag.
Your description should highlight your keyword phrase, keeping it focused,
to the point and readable. Your keyword tags should also be focused using
each keyword a maximum of 3 times in any set. These tags should be customized
on each page to fit the specific phrase targeted.

After the Meta tags have been inserted appropriately to fit each page
it is important to title each page appropriately. The main targeted phrase
should be the focus of the title, keep it simple, focused, to the point,
do not bog it down with extra descriptive text, this is not your description,
it is your title.

Next move onto Alt tags. Though it is good practice to add Alt tags to
all your images the spiders only put weight on those that are contained
within links. An example of this: <a href="http://www.beanstalk-inc.com"><img
src="Images/webhead.jpg" alt="Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning"
width="461" height="145" border="0"></a>
These Alt tags allow you to make your images matter. Most main navigation
is image based so be sure to add appropriate Alt tags targeting your keywords
to this very prominent area of your site. Another great place to add a
link along with its Alt tag is in your header image. Linking this image
to your URL adds the ability to make the first thing the spiders hit within
your tables to at least hold some content that "matters" rather
than simply a static image.

H1 tags are also great way to add weight to your content however, use
them wisely. You can use any of the H1,2,3,4 tags, the idea being H1 has
the most weight, H2 a little less and so on. Do not over use these tags
or they will lose their value all together. The correct way to use these
is to use them where they actually belong, for example the first line
of text on a page, the title. Also, if you are defining your fonts in
a style sheet, which you should be, be sure not to abuse these tags. An
H1 tag should be defined bigger than an H2, etc.

Utilizing the above tips will create a site structure that is the perfect
environment for the spiders, it is clean, focused and easily read. Your
site structure is now optimized and ready for the more advanced content
optimization elements to come.

Next Week

Next week in part four we will be covering content optimization. This
will cover everything from meta tag optimization to the use of heading

Mary Davies is the owner of Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning. Mary works and writes with years of experience in website design and search engine optimization.