It always amazes me how many shortcuts people will try in order to do well with Google when Google makes it so easy to succeed if you simply play by the rules. There is one catch, though, and I want to get it out of the way at the outset. You have to write. If you regularly add unique, expertise-based content to your site, then SEO will be easy. We will take a close look at how exactly to do this in the content strategy section. If you do not regularly add unique, expertise-based content to your site then doing well with Google is not an option for you and SEO is not worth wasting your time on.
To explain how to properly optimize your site for search engines, it is helpful to outline some of the things not to do. Do not put any content you want Google to read in Flash, documents, or images. Having a PDF download of an article is great, but make sure you also enable people to read that article right there on your site in plain, indexable HTML. When it comes to Flash, be careful, it can do more harm to your site’s SEO than anything else. Having a Flash introduction to your site might as well be a “No Trespassing” sign as far as Google is concerned. If your navigation system is in Flash, Google will have a hard time even getting to your site’s pages. Flash is also anathema to most mobile devices. If you still consider Flash to be a good idea, I invite you to read my “9 Don’ts of Using Flash” in the Visual Design section.
Assuming your site was built according to coding best practices (a topic that is well understood among most developers and which I will not cover in this book) and that your site is not hiding from Google in any of the ways I just mentioned, SEO is quite easy. There are three page elements that Google looks at when it examines a single page: the title tag, the URL, and the H1 tag. In my next few blog posts we will take a closer look at each.
This post is an excerpt from my book, “A Website That Works.”