Make Your Site Search Engine Friendly

After you go to all the trouble to make your website work well on the iPhone and iPad, don’t forget to make it search engine friendly as well. Although many of the same rules of search engine optimization (SEO) apply, you need to understand a few key differences and special additions if you want to be included in mobile search engines, such as Google’s.

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Scoring high in search engine results is complicated because millions of sites vie for the top spots and search engines use complex formulas to determine which website should match any given keyword search. The formulas that search engines use to prioritize websites are guarded more carefully than Coca-Cola guards its recipe. And, if that doesn’t make it complicated enough, most search engines change their formulas regularly.

The reason for all this secrecy is that the people who run sites such as Google and Bing want to deliver the best results when someone conducts a search — not just a list of the sites that reflect a smart web marketer's ability to trick its way into the top position.

For the most part, search engines score sites based on the words and images on web pages and on how well their content matches the keywords that are searched.

Achieving the best placement, especially for popular keywords, is a full-time job, but here are a few do’s and don’ts for making your site search engine friendly:

  • Do add a meta tag that identifies your site as mobile friendly. Search engines are much more likely to find your mobile site, and deliver it to mobile devices, if you include this piece of code in the head region at the top of your page code. Just enter the following line of code, exactly as it appears, anywhere between the <head> and </head> tags at the top of your Web page:

    <meta name="HandheldFriendly" content="True" />
  • Do make sure your code is valid. This is even more important on the mobile Web. Take the time to have online validators evaluate your site, such as the ones at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and make sure your code is up to snuff.

  • Do invite other sites to link to you. Google rewards people who attract the highest number of links to their sites, especially if those sites already have good rankings themselves.

  • Do develop a list of keywords and write a good description for your site. The trick to writing a good site description is making it concise (no more than 75 words), packing it with your most important keywords and phrasing it to read like a sentence. Include this description toward the top of your home page in the meta description tag.

  • Do include your most important keywords in the title of your web page and in the name of the file. The title appears at the top of the browser window. You can add or edit the title of a page in Dreamweaver by changing the text in the Title field at the top of the workspace.

  • Do include keywords in the headlines on your web page. Most search engines place higher priority on keywords that appear in the headlines on a page, but only if you use heading tags to style those headlines.

  • Do register your mobile site with search engines. Mobile search engines, such as Yahoo!, feature mobile sites, but only if they know that you’re there and have designed a site for the mobile web.

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  • Don’t stuff in extra keywords. Keyword stuffing is increasingly frowned on by search engines. Plus, it's downright self-sabotaging on the mobile web, where every word counts and adding extra words can cost you valuable download time.

  • Don’t expect instant (or permanent) results. Even if you do everything right in the search engine search game, you might still have to wait for the results of your efforts to be recognized. Some search engines can take weeks or months to reflect changes to web pages on the Internet.

A great place to learn more about how search engines work and how to achieve the best ranking is at Search Engine Watch.

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