Since I’ve been creating sites for a good portion of my life, I just thought I’d go over a few of the most important aspects of building a successful website. Note that these are in no particular order of importance, just what came to mind first. This will be a 2 part series. Hope you find it useful. All of the information I am writing is from personal experience.
1. Domain name – A domain name is important for several reasons. For my example……. we’ll say I want to start a website on the topic CSS. CSSVault.com is the domain name chosen for this example. This was, in my humble opinion, a very nice choice. First, the domain begins with the acronym CSS, which is exactly what this website happens to be about. Not only do visitors find this easy to remember, but many search engines love it when the phrase you are trying to target for is part of your domain name. It helps your ranking and is easy to remember.
Bottom Line – Keep it short and informative
2. CSS/XHTML – I feel this is becoming more and more of an important factor for search engines. I believe that the search engines recognize, and appreciate that your website is complying with the latest in webpage standards(unlike Microsoft’s current browser). There is far less data for them to crawl when the CSS information is in a separate file. They don’t have to look at the same styling information over and over again throughout your site. Then there’s the matter of the HTML being coded tableless which also saves greatly on the bandwidth of both the search engine crawler, and your own web hosting plan. There are advantages on both your side and the side of the search engine. It never hurts to keep the search engines happy.
Bottom Line – Tableless is better
3. Design – Design really has little effect on your search engine rankings, but it is key in gaining repeat visitors and building a sense of community within the website itself. I myself prefer nice simple designs that let the content dictate the website. While I appreciate nice snazzy flashy graphically huge designs sometimes, if the focus is meant to be on the content, then that’s exactly what the visitors should be looking at most of the time. This of course varies from person to person. Anyway, keep your readers happy with something pleasant.
Bottom Line – Keep it simple and to the point
4. SE Friendly URLs – By search engine friendly URLs, I mean avoid urls that look like:
Instead, your URLs should look something like:
You’ll notice that the directory was completely removed and the file was put in the main directory. This helps because the SE’s then view the file as more important because it is not in some obsolete directory. The next thing to notice is that a dash is used…..not an underline. This is because SE’s interpret the dash as a space. This is helpful when you are including multiple words in your file name. The SE’s can add extra weight to the correct words when they can pick apart the right words from your URL.
How can this all of this be achieved you ask? This can be done by using mod_rewrite. Here is a good simple article explaining how to get everything working. This is pretty much a widely used technique now. It used to give quite a big advantage in the search engine rankings, but now it has become pretty much standard practice for webmasters. It has almost become a necessary technique to stay competitive in the rankings now. It’s important to at least keep up with the standards, if not staying ahead of the curve.
Bottom Line – Remove query strings and sometimes directories
5. Title – Your webpage title is more important than you know. I have often found that people will find the page a lot easier with the right title. If you use a nice keyword targeted title along with SE friendly URLs, you’ll be surprised how much this helps in the long run. Keep in mind that while you want keywords in your title, you do not want to overload your title with keywords. I myself usually try to focus on a few main keywords relating to the main subject of the site. To find good keywords, I highly recommend the Overture keyword suggestion tool. This tool has been invaluable to me in finding the right keywords to target.
I usually try to focus on 3 or 4 main keywords that people would type into the search engines. Do not overload your title with too many keywords, it only dilutes the value of the other keywords in the title tag. I usually try to keep a page’s title less than 10 words. A technique I like to employ on sites I create is having the main page’s title target the most important keywords. The home page is going to be the main entry point for most people, so it needs to be targeted the best. Example:
Site Title – Keyword 1, Keyword 2, Keyword 3
On the subpages, I like to basically use the format:
Site Title – Page Subject
Bottom Line – Informative titles are key