I heard that in order to have a site search optimized, you have to have it in a specific format. Is this true? If so, where can I learn the correct coding style? Thx in advance.
Well, because search engine companies don't reveal their internal algorithms (to keep people from gaming the system), there isn't One True Format that is correct in terms of SEO, but we do know a lot of little details of 'best practice', such as:
- Use <h1>, <h2>, etc. for headers on main content
- As a rule of thumb, content is king: more (relevant) text means more keywords
- In source code, it is generally a good idea to place important content closer to the top, and navigation / secondary content further down the page. It can always be repositioned with CSS
In fact, a good rule of thumb when looking for SEO tips is to search for "Google SEO" and just picking the top hits.... since, if their tips were wrong (assuming they follow their own advice) they wouldn't have made it to the top for that search.
SEO is a collection of strategies for increasing the visibility of your site to search engines and for getting a better SERPS (search engine results pages) position.
There is no single format that you can use to build your site in order to make it search optimized, although there are some simple guidlines that you should follow:
- be semantic: the less elements a spider has to wade through before it gets to your content, the better
- put content as close to the top of the page as possible: very similar to above. There is a limit to the amount of data a search bot can index, make sure it spiders your content as efficiently as possible
- Use your keywords in headings
- Have lots of quality content which features your keywords
- Make it easy for people to link to your (social networking links, etc)
- Submit your site to directories and to search engines
- Use search engine tools, such as a Google sitemap, to help with indexing
These are some of the basic principles, but SEO is not something you can just do overnight. It is a massive subject with a lot of subtle techniques that can be employed. Choosing effective keywords is a science and will require thought, analysis and practice.
These tips should be seen as a starting point...
Here's a shameless plug for my own blog, but I've posted some high level introductory notes here - http://hugorodgerbrown.blogspot.com/2010/03/seo-is-common-sense.html. I've also posted more in-depth notes there, but in summary it comes down to the following:
- Make sure the site structure makes sense (and publish a sitemap)
- Make sure each page is clean and simple, and well-structured HTML (understand how Google indexes content)
- Use things like the meta description to shape how your site appears in the Google results listings
Put simply, if you pay attention to the HTML, Google will look after you.
One word of caution however - whilst good SEO will help Google to place you, the overriding factor in your placement within the index is how popular your site is - and that can't really be managed. I worked for a large brand retailer online, and to be honest we were on the first page without having to optimise, just because of our size. If you are a small site, unless you are a niche service SEO will only get you so far.
My final recommendation is this - don't, under any circumstances, try to "game" Google - it won't work, and you'll probably be barred from their index.
(BTW - the answer above is a good start also).