Developing An SEO Strategy That Works

SEO. These three little letters can actually translate into huge dividends for companies looking to thrive in today's economic environment. In fact, without an effective, aggressive search engine optimization strategy, your great website could end up lost in cyberspace. Search engine optimization is an essential component of moving your business forward - a successful SEO strategy means more traffic on your website, more exposure to your brand, and more conversions that generate revenue.

Most online businesses will consider SEO efforts when traffic declines, but by this time it could be too late. It's critical to implement SEO from the beginning of development so that site architecture, coding, and design issues are addressed before the site is ready for launch. By incorporating such components as easy-to-read HTML code, search engine friendly URLs, and keyword-rich content during production, a site can start building ranking as soon as it is live. Although it takes time and effort to integrate SEO strategies during development, it's much easier (and more cost-effective!) to plan wisely upfront than it is to fix it later. The first step towards landing on the pages of Google or Yahoo is securing a visit from their web crawlers. A web crawler (also known as a web spider or web robot) creates a copy of the website's visited (or "crawled") pages. The search engines will then "index" this content to provide the most appropriate results to users searching online. To rank well, a website must be developed in a way that allows the search engine's robots to visit as easily and often as possible.

Optimizing the site during development means making sure that site architecture supports accessibility, with an organization that is easily understood by robots. Missing pages, broken links, unreadable code, and pages restricted by cookies or frames can all frustrate the search engine bots - and more importantly, the human users that visit the site!

Clean, efficient, standards-compliant code is also critical as it enables crawling by serving content in a way that is easy for spiders to understand. Although search engines are getting more sophisticated and starting to be able to recognize Flash, Javascript, Ajax, and other advanced technologies, make sure that the important components of the site are built in HTML so that they can be noticed and crawled by the spiders.

Clear, clean navigation is another critical part of optimized information architecture as easy-to-read HTML links allow both spiders and humans to move through the site without confusion. A complete, visible site map notifies the search engines of all the website's pages while informative, keyword-rich meta tags and content give clear direction about what the page is about. Because spiders (and visitors) are less likely to visit the deeper pages in the site, no important page should be more than three clicks away.

While SEO can be a complicated process, it is a vital investment that can produce major results. Early and well-defined SEO planning can keep your site from languishing in cyberspace without visitors and without a way to generate interest or revenue. Understanding the importance of factors like accessibility and implementing SEO strategies into site architecture during development improves rankings - boosting your Web presence significantly and making sure that potential customers find your site online.