Specialists in Internet Web Sites Since 1995
Step 1, Page Preparation
© 2001 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.
Clarifying the Goal of the Site
Each Web site requires one main focus, and that focus must be clearly
defined so that each visitor understands what he can expect there. If the site
owner isn't sure about what he wants a visitor to do, the visitor will be
thoroughly confused. This means that when your focus is unclear to you, you
must first spend time plotting out your goal. Then you can plan the site and
write the site text.
Writing the Site Text
The old standbys of who, what, where, why, and how are just as important
online as offline. Visitors need information on where they are, who you are,
and why you should be trusted. They need to know exactly what you are selling,
why the book is worthwhile, and how to purchase the book securely.
Planning the Site Navigation
Visitors also need guidance in progressing through a site. A site must ask
for the sale and tell the visitor how to order. The site designer must guard
against any roadblocks on the path to the completed order.
Rewriting the Site Text With Search Engines in Mind
Remember that several of the most important search engines send out software
robots to index every word on a site. This index of words is used to determine
the importance of the site with respect to keywords used in searches. One
keyword used not at all or only once on a page denotes the page as unimportant
for that keyword. In contrast, if the keyword appears as a heading on the page,
then appears four or five times in sentences within that page, then the page is
categorized as important for that keyword. Such a page will rise in the search
engine listings for that keyword. Starting with the site text in pretty good
shape, you should rewrite that text with the search engines in mind. Pull the
most salient keyword for the page into the page heading, and be sure to use
that keyword several times in sentences on the page. And no, you can't place
the keyword in white text against a white background, because that trick will
get your site banned from search engines.
Adding Alt Tags and Meta Tags for the Search Engines
Since the robots are indexing every word on the site, we can add a few more
instances of our keywords by using tags invisible to the ordinary browser, yet
readable by robots. We start by adding an alt tag for every graphic. Then we
create the most important two meta tags, the keywords meta and the description
meta. The meta tags go within the head tags for the page, and they summarize
the content of the page, adding to the search engine importance of the page for
emphasized keywords. Since most people reading this column won't be creating
their own tags, I won't go into greater technical detail here.
If you have someone designing your site for you, please start with your own
main focus for the site. Do take the time to develop your text and help to plot
out the site navigation. Finally, be sure that your page designer works with
you on the tags for your pages. If people can find your site in the search
engines, then find their way around the site, your persuasive copy and simple
ordering may convince the visitor to buy.
Next you should read about registering
with the search engines.
~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect
who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at
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