Part I: Design
Now I’m not a creative genius and I’m far from a techie, but one thing I can assure you is that the design of a website plays a critical role when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That’s all I have to say about that, but here are a few tips that you may find helpful when considering a site’s design and/or objective, as we rebuild society in the aftermath of the Google Panda! (please add your suggestions in the comment section):
- Unique. Nuff said. If it’s already out there, why the hell am I going to go to your website? Crawlers feel the same way so don’t expect to rank when trying to join an already saturated niche.
- Easily identifiable, i.e. what exactly is the site’s purpose and can it be immediately understood?
- Make sure <title> elements and ALT attributes are thorough and relevant.
- User friendly, smooth browsing, easy access to important info, clear hierarchy and quality text links.
- Every page should be accessible from at least one static text link.
- Clear and concise Site Map, About Us section and contact info.
- Eliminate pages with little or no content and avoid having too many links on any one page. Relevant links are good, but a single webpage with nothing but text links will be viewed as low quality and most likely penalized.
- Although images and banners should certainly be implemented, try to use text when displaying important links because search engine crawlers don’t recognize text within images.
Part II: High Quality Site Building
In addition to relevance, quality is everything post-Google Panda. It really is that simple, though the work it takes will have you constantly believing otherwise. If the content of the site you’re building/optimizing provides a solution or information wanted by online users, traffic and rankings will develop naturally (organically). Though each piece of the SEO puzzle is of equal importance, my experience as an online marketer/affiliate less my inexperience as a programmer leaves me inclined to favor on-site content (what the user sees and what crawlers use to determine a site’s relevance) as a more effective SEO tool, post-Panda. Here’s what I mean: It’s common for site owners and programmers to set their goals on trying to “figure out”, as far as they can anyway, exactly what the search engines are looking for, i.e. the equation of the algorithm. Of course your ultimate goal now, as it always will be is to improve rankings so figuring out the search results equation is what we should be trying to do, right? Kind-of, but with a different goal in mind.
Instead of actively trying to figure out the search algorithms in order to beat the system, focus your energy towards delivering the best possible user experience. The main point of focus should be on creating a unique and friendly user environment that clearly displays the site’s intentions with plenty of content that is relevant, informative, engaging and deserving of a “Share” or second visit. Having a natural, flowing and unique website that people want to find paves the road towards a high quality site. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of the Panda updates last year was to eliminate low quality sites from search results while providing searchers with more relevant results. If your site is the best place to find what someone is searching for, Google is thrilled to put you right on the first (SERP) Search Engine Results Page! Here are a few more suggestions on how to distinguish between low quality and high quality:
- Ask yourself if you would trust/use the site you’re building/optimizing.
- Daily moderation is crucial not only to maintain a quality website but to let users know that you are engaged and there to help them as well.
- Have plenty of informative articles and blogs that feature topics relevant to your target audience. Blogs are a great way to engage users and keep them interested, while you optimize your site using keywords and phrases.
- DO NOT DUPLICATE CONTENT from your site or any other website. Having unoriginal or duplicate content equals major Panda penalty points, i.e. big drop in search rankings.
- Would you read/share the content featured on the site you’re working on, or is it a bunch of BS aimed only at taking up space? Remember, write unique, informative and accurate content for your target audience while utilizing the keywords and phrases you hope to rank for.
- Too many ads, especially above the fold (what a user sees before scrolling down on a webpage) are just as effective as a big neon sign that reads “Low-Quality Website”, and Panda will penalize accordingly. Do you like being bombarded by advertisements? Neither do your users. Limit the amount of ads and highlight your site’s value, then place advertisements accordingly that are relevant to surrounding content.
- Thin content, pages with little or no information, too much white space etc. should be avoided. High quality sites feature a plethora of useful information (content), and a user’s questions should be answered before they have time to ask.
- Keep in mind that individual pages which are of low quality can negatively impact an entire site’s rankings. Inactive pages, dead-end links and out-of-date content are just a few situations that could impact individual web pages, and potentially the whole site. Be sure to “clean house” a couple times a month.
Stay tuned for more search engine optimization strategies for both newbies and established websites seeking aid from Panda wounds!