Appendix B is in three parts, this is due to the level of detail I wish to supply and also because I wish to keep these blog posts of a “sensible” size. This hopefully means you can digest information I give.
Although in general terms page content is about the whole page, in this section I will deal with the structure of a page and not “making it look pretty”. (This will be dealt with in the next series of posts after SEO). This is because in essence all search engines can be compared to a Blind User. If you want to see what this looks like you’ve several options. You can either download the web dev toolbar for firefox, and remove all CSS and images, or try a text browser such as Lynx. Also despite the opinion of some developers if you design for this “blind” user (the robot) as well as the “average” user you are making your site accessible.
Page / Site Structure
When developing or redeveloping a website/application choosing the correct structure of a site or page is off paramount importance. You should look at structure from a worms-eye view, this is to say from code upwards. But first take a look outside the box, draw yourself flow diagrams, tree diagrams and ensure you know how you want your site to work. Then simplify this. The more simple the easier your site is to use, is there an extra step in a process you don’t truly need. if so take it out, not only will this help your users, but also from an SEO point-of-view (POV), because things will be easier to get to, and so indexed sooner. When creating your site structure there is one thing to remember. Balance.
In a tree diagram for example this would mean having a similar number of crossing links on a page, you would have balanced sections fo your site with what should ammount to the same ammount of “useful” information in them and a similar number of pages. So if your tree diagram has 17 links from your “about” section and 2 from your “services” section, maybe its time to reconsider? …. This isn’t true however for blogs, although if you use catagories correctly it can be applied here too.
Following this process (and having itterated a few times) you should now look at the coding, and in particualr your style of coding. Use of semantic coding, obieding by guidelines of w3c and use of external css means that your site will be accessible to both people and SE’s.
Q -“Are there anyways of making structure easier once a site has been created? I dont want a full redevelopment.” – Client A
A – In Short, Yes. Although best results are achieved through a full redevelopment in this case, you can use SEO URL’s to adjust your links. Through use of .htaccess files you can cause a url to change, an example of this is this blog, which produces (without .ht) http://andykinsey.com/blog?id=99 but with .ht this becomes http://andykinsey.com/blogname/year – it may seem odd to not just have a title, but adding the year gives some concurrency and means blog titles / adjustments and additions can be added at a later point with the same title.
A site i have found useful for this is YourHtmlSource
Headings are something that you may think have no relevancy in your design, you just list H1 as a the site title and use other headers here and here….. well no this isn’t really how it works.
Although you should use H tags to describe headers and sub-headers etc. This should not be taken as described above but rather using a lesser header for the site title and a more important and higher ranked header for the page titles. The reasons for this are fairly clear, if you list something as H1 it shows its the most important factor of the page h2 being the second and so on. But doesn’t H1 show larger than H2 etc? …well yes by default but by using CSS this can be overcome, and SE’s will still see the most important factor of a page. So look carefully at your page and how it is laid out, can you put the H1 tag in a better place, if “yes” you will start to win the battle with google. If “no” your simply not looking in the right place.
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