The reading level for this article is Novice

Building a search engine friendly site is not overly complex, however, it does take understanding the correct “blue print” for the system and you need time. How much time? At least one year.

Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your Internet Empire.

Step One: Preparation work, and lots of it. How much? We recommend a site with at least 100 pages of content – real content, not “fluff” pages like Contact Us, About Us, or your Privacy Statement page. The real meat of your site should be 100+ pages.

Step Two: Your domain should be one that is easily brandable. Forget about having your keywords in your domain name, or having dashes. They have never been less important to search engines. If you want to use keywords in your domain name, you can use third-level domains (i.e. instead.

Step Three: Site design/speed. The simpler the better. While search engines can crawl things they couldn’t just last year, we advise you to keep things simply by avoiding Flash, Java, and complex JavaScript. This will allow the search engines to crawl your site without the possibility of getting “hung” and resulting in the crawler terminating.

A great example of a simple and effective design is Google. Simple. Clean. Effective.

Site speed is the catalyst to a successful site. Even if you have the best sales letter, the best graphics, and the best marketing plan, it will all fail if your site does not respond instantly to a request. Even if that delay is a mere 3-4 seconds. That “New York Minute” could mean a lost visitor and lost revenue. It is estimated that for every second of wait time you lose 10% of your visitors.

Step Four: Session IDs. Does your site or shopping cart software require a session ID to continue? If so, search engines will bail out and go elsewhere. You can check your page saturation at MarketLeap, and if Google only has a handful of your pages indexed, session IDs may be the issue.

Step Five: Same Page Titles. Either out of laziness or a Content Management System (CMS) page titles are the same throughout the site. Google has been known to stop spidering sites when the same title is detected repeatedly. Google looks at this as dumping irrelevant pages into their index. Most CMS systems like the Bright Builder have the ability to modify the Title on pages, even product pages.

Step Six: Required Cookies. By forcing a visitor to take the cookie you are planting on their machine, you risk losing the search engine spiders. Why? They don’t accept cookies, and if you force one on them, they will just turn and go the other way.

Step Seven: Test Your Site. To get a glimpse of what a search engine spider sees when it indexes your site, see the Lynx Viewer. If you see major problems, such as very little text, unclickable links, etc. you should make adjustments to your site immediately. The viewer isn’t perfect, but it will allow you to see potential problems that you wouldn’t normally detect.

The “meat” of this article was supplied by Brett Tabke of the Webmaster World Forums.

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This Web Marketing article was written by Jerry West on 3/21/2005

Jerry West is the Director of Marketing for WebMarketingNow. Visit Web Marketing Now for the latest in marketing tips that are tested and proven.