Creating a search engine friendly site isn’t exact science, but nor is it a dark art. Because Google is continually evolving its thought process, and developing new technologies, the finer points of the SEO game are constantly being rewritten. However, the fundamental rules remain unchanged.

Whether you are building a new site, or overhauling an existing one, it’s essential that you lay the right foundations. Creating a search engine friendly site is all about accessibility, navigation and signposting.

Your SEO campaign should begin the moment you decide to set up a website. Every decision you make can have a bearing on your position in the SERPs and the more search-friendly elements you build into your site from the start, the less work you’ll have to do on your SEO campaign.

Getting started with a search friendly website

It’s important to get the basics right. So if you don’t already have a website make sure you plan everything carefully. Choose a URL that is relevant to your business and opt for the best hosting you can afford. Sit down and think about the design and structure of your site. Divide content on a hierarchical structure to help PageRank flow through the entire site and aim for a simple but effective design. You want your site to look appealing to users but be easy for spiders to crawl.

Avoid using Flash, JavaScript or images for navigational purposes and limit their use elsewhere to ensure your pages download quickly and easily. Include a site map to help spiders crawl your entire site and make sure all your internal links have keyword-rich anchor text. If you can, embed the links in a paragraph of relevant surrounding text too.

If possible avoid the use of dynamic pages as search engines can find them difficult to read, but if they’re absolutely essential build your databases with SEO in mind, creating fields for your heading tags into the system. In all cases limit your parameters to simplify your URLs and keep things as easy as possible.

If international traffic is what you’re after and you decide to set up multilingual sites then you’ve got to optimise each site with those unique users in mind. At the very least you need translation services but ideally you want advice from people who know the foreign market and search scene well.

International sites are just one of the many ways in which you can inadvertently create duplicate content. Search engines don’t want to index the same page twice so will choose what they see as the most important page and ignore the rest. In order to get the search engines to index the page of your choice you’ve got to let them know which one to use. Redirects, robots.txt and images can all help you get round the problem.

All the techniques discussed in this blog should help signpost your site to search engines and help them to find and navigate it better. It’s a constantly changing world though, with search engines improving their methods and responding to users’ needs and spammers techniques with frightening speed.

Ten tips to make your website more search engine friendly

  1. Tread carefully when choosing your hosting company and hosting plan
  2. Don’t let overblown design ideas interfere with your SEO campaign
  3. Keep your website’s navigation simple and logical
  4. Intelligent internal linking can help PageRank flow through your site
  5. Make sure that you got a site map… and a Google Sitemap
  6. Understand what ‘duplicate content’ really means…and don’t go there
  7. Dynamic pages should be approached with caution
  8. Using JavaScript, Frames or Flash means that search spiders go home hungry
  9. Get creative with robots.txt; you’ll be surprised at what it can do
  10. If you are going to ‘go global’ you’ll need more than language skills alone