Ever stumbled upon a website that is difficult to navigate, takes a while to open, and has broken links? Sure you have. It is the first sign of a website that is not properly maintained. Apart from the poor first impression it creates on you, as the reader, it also raises flags with the search engines such as Google. Poor website design is often the cause for less than desirable search engine ranking. As such a few basics are shared to help you review your website and make the necessary changes to its lay-out and design for optimal user-friendliness and search engine ranking.

Step 1 – Check That All Links Work

If there are broken or orphaned links on your site, it will show up when the search bots spider it. Broken links will cost you not only in return visitor traffic, but also website ranking. As such check your website at least once a month for broken links.

Step 2 – Does Your Site Have Title Tags?

When the user clicks on a web page within the website, the title of the web page should display in the blue bar at the top of the screen. It is called the title bar. Always insert a title for every page you create. A web page coming up as “untitled” looks unprofessional and once again hinders good search engine rankings. Select descriptive, but short titles to prevent penalization. You want to ease the navigation process for the user. As such you will not call a page “Book One” but rather the title of the book. Yes, the stop words included in the title can cause some penalization, and as such be creative by for instance, calling the page “Peach Recipes” rather than The Peach Recipes Cookbook”.

Step 3 – Clean Up the Website

Cluttered pages are not easy to navigate. You need to ensure that the user will find pages and information without having to search around. As such make use of cascading style sheet menus to always have the main navigation available such as Home, Contact Us, and About Us etc. Add a sub menu on the left side where the user most probably will look.

Step 4 – Check The Alt Tags Of Images

Although the alt tags will hardly make a difference in the search engine rankings of the website, the tags will provide information about the images and will display when the images don’t. Once again, you need to create a website that will be search engine and user-friendly.

Step 5 – Sitemap

Don’t forget to add a sitemap for the user and have a button to the effect on your web pages. It is another way for the user to navigate through the website. A sitemap must also be created for the search engines to help the bots spider and index the pages.

Step 6 – Get Rid of Too Much Flash

Flash certainly has its place in modern online design, but too much of a good thing will cost your website search engine rankings. Limit the Flash to where really needed as the site will then also load faster. You want your site to be searchable for the engines, fast loading, and easy to use even when a user has a slower connection.

Step 7 – Insert Meta Tags

No matter who says what – meta tags are still important. Every web page should have a meta tag set which includes the title, keywords, and description tags. The meta tags still play a role in search engine ranking.

Step 8 – Check For Grammar And Spelling Errors

With the new Google algorithm it is possible that even sites with loads of grammar and spelling errors will see their rankings drop. Besides, you don’t want a user to be disgusted because of the poor wording on the site.

Step 9 – Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to the total number that a keyword phrase appears on a particular web page. For a web page containing 250-350 words, the keyword shouldn’t appear more than five times. For a web page containing 450 -700 words the density can be around six to eight times while for a page containing 750 and more words stick with no more than ten times. Also vary the keywords a bit to prevent Google from labelling the page as keyword stuffed or spam.

Step 10 – Content Will Always Be King

Even with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube marketing, in addition to sponsored ads, you will still need excellent content to attract the search engines and visitors. The search bots may return with poor content, but the users may not and they will certainly not recommend the site or your business when you try to feed them junk. Create quality content throughout. For every one sales pitch page create three content pages. You do, however, still need the sales pitches otherwise your site will simply become an information source with no sales profits.