13 Lucky Steps

Steps 1-2 & 5-6

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Before Designing a Website
  1. Choose three short keyword phrases (2-3, sometimes 4 words) and about five less important (or more specific) phrases. Here is how to choose them:
    • Start with words that you imagine people might ask a search engine for if they were looking for what the website offers (for instance, what category would the company be in the Yellow Pages). Then research what related phrases apply to your business that people actually ask the search engines for.
      • If the people designing your website can't do this research, find someone who can as you now know that it can be done.
      • There are programs you can buy that claim to do this but we can't recommend any.
      • You might, for instance, think people will ask for "realtor" or "buying a home" when what they overwhelming ask for is "real estate". If you are a realtor the phrase "Real Estate" plus the local area you serve, needs to be in your home page title and text! If it isn't then the search engine won't know that this site should come up for this search.
    • Be specific. You are never going to get to the top of broad categories.
    • Decide which of the three phrases you most want to emphasize and use that in your home page title tag. Make this decision with someone who has extensive experience dealing with search engines.
      • Each individual page in the site should have its own title one that applies to the material on that page and the keyword(s) that that page covers.
      • Titles should be no longer than six to eight words (up to 64 characters) if possible, and the keyword phrase is more important than the name of your company. If you do include the name of your company, put it in last and shorten it as much as possible.
        • Do not waste words by including the word "Inc.", "Company", "Co.", "Ltd.", "the", "and", "Welcome", "Home Page", etc. in the title! Every word of the title should be something you want to be found under when people search.
      • If you have room in your title, see if another keyword phrase can fit.

  2. Decide to create specific internal pages that discuss the main subject of each of the keyword phrases you have chosen.
    • Write copy for these pages that give useful information to your target audience (you and your website designer should have decided who your target audience is already).
    • Tell your designer that each of the "file names" (like "chicago.html") of these pages needs to correspond to one of the keywords if possible.
    • Wherever possible include the following pages which can be keyword rich and cover word variations:
      • A Links Page - most important
      • A Sitemap
      • A FAQ Page - for frequently asked questions which you can use to cover thing like misspellings, alternate phrases that mean similar things etc.
      • A Glossary Page

    While Creating your Site
    1. Use your three main keyword phrases in the text of your home page and make text links to the inside pages using those keyword phrases and any of the other ones you've been able to make pages for. A graphics only (or Flash) home page (splash page) is not going to be promotable through the search engines, plus viewers coming to your site may not be able to immediately discern what you do without a little text.
      • The first page of your site should have at least 100 words of text and shouldn't redirect or be in frames. If you use Flash, or imagemaps, etc. you will need text in addition probably repeating whatever you are saying in the graphics. (See Step 3) Also if you want to offer Flash, Shockwave, Quicktime or sound, etc., allow your viewers to go around them or turn them off --- make sute your "Skip Intro" button is NOT in the Flash.
      • No matter what kind of graphical navigation you have at the top of your pages (and they should all have "alt" tags), you should have text links at the bottom of your pages.
      • Use a footer on the page that includes your email address and the name of the company or website. Usually your company name on the page will be in graphic form with a logo, etc. so this allows you to get the company name into the website indexes an extra time over the use in the main text of the page.

    Before Going Live
    1. Create individual title tags and description and keyword meta tag for every page (each applying to the material on that page and using the keyword phrases you found in step 1).
      • The title tag is of tremendous importance in the ranking of your site in the search engines. All search engine algorithms take note of the fact that you only have about seven or eight words to use in your title tag so they figure that those are your most important words about what your site and each page is about.
      • Note: only Alta Vista and Inktomi still use meta tags but they are still important enough to create these tags for your site.
        • The description meta tag should be about 20-25 words and should use two or three of your most important keywords phrases in sentences that would attract people to your site.
        • The keyword tag should contain a couple of your most important phrases and a few misspellings or alternate spellings viewers might make and some synonyms that you can't get into the text for some reason. Keep this tag reasonably short (maybe 15 to 20 short phrases maximum).

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This page last updated September 8, 2003
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