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Two Tips to Make Your Web Site Available to Search Engines

By Virginia Lawrence

We've discussed before that everyone can create a Web site, and we all know that everyone can write a book. Just as authors must learn how to write a book properly, Web site designers must learn how to design a Web site properly. Designers must keep in mind that the initial goals for every Web site are to present information to the visitor and to be found in the search engines. If the Web site design is invisible to the search engines, those targeted visitors will never arrive.

The following tips will help you to design a better site or to evaluate a site designed for you.

  1. Keep the site reasonably low tech. There are many fascinating techniques available to us, but that does not mean that we should use them. We want to pick and choose only those techniques that improve visitor experience at the site.

    1. Flash movies take a long time to download and play, keeping the site visitor from getting to the information she wants. If Flash pizzazz is necessary, use it only in one small dose.
    2. Java applets take a long time to download, and they conflict with some computer software. Since Java applets are generally not central to the theme of the site, they should be omitted entirely.
    3. Animated graphics can be fun only when they are an integral part of the site. When simply pasted in as a rotating mailbox or a dancing animal unrelated to the site topic, animated graphics are annoying.

    While considering the jazzy additions you want to make to your site, please remember that the search engines must be able to "see" a Web site. The search engines send out indexing "spiders" to read every word on the site, but if the entire site is a Flash movie, the search engines see nothing. There is no way for the search engine to figure out what the site is about, and the site will simply be listed under its domain name only.

  2. Limit the graphics. The "heavier" a page is with graphics, the longer the visitor must wait for the page. We must be selective in the graphics we choose, and those graphics must further the theme of the site.

    1. Size the graphics so that their dimensions balance well with the rest of the page.
    2. Use PhotoShop to reduce the resolution and to save the graphics as compressed jpg or gif files.

Again, please remember that the search engines must be able to "see" your site. If each page of the site is one large graphic, the effect is the same for the search engines as when we create an all-Flash site. The search engines see no text at all when the pages contain only graphics.

The search engines read and index the text on regular HTML pages, and it's vital for any site to be indexed before it can be well listed in the search engines. Because we want to attract visitors, we must make our sites available for indexing by the search engines. Therefore, all sites should be offering their most important message in text on regular HTML pages.

Yes, everyone can create a Web site, but only when we spend the time to optimize our site design will we build a good Web site. By following these tips and including good content in your site, you'll be building an indexable site that will start to attract visitors.

–Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Designer and Online Marketing Consultant who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at virginia@spawn.org or visit her Web site at http://www.cognitext.com.

 

 

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