Content may be king, but it can easily be dethroned by a flawed technical implementation. By putting some consideration into the markup that surrounds it, you can make the content you’ve developed based on your keyword research work even harder for you.
From an SEO perspective, the development of the site needs to focus on the following:
- text-based site development wherever possible
- clean and logical site structure
- proper markup of key page elements
When developing any new website, or updating an existing site, applying these key principles will always give a solid, technical base on which to conduct your SEO campaign.
Throughout this section, we’ll bring a few important considerations to the web development side of any SEO campaign. We’ll show you snippets of markup where required, but will stop short of going into too much depth: we’re assuming you already understand how to create and edit HTML, and have the ability to influence the code on the site on which you’re working.
Text-based Site Development
Search engines, for all their complexity, are still relatively simple in the way that they understand how each piece of your site and its content fit together. They index your content content – be it images, videos, or any other media – solely based on the textual content of your HTML.
They still have difficulty reading text that’s contained in an image, video, or Flash file. Any use of rich media, such as Flash, should be considered progressive enhancement – that is, it should be built on top of a foundation that allows the site to function and still be usable without that media. This approach will ensure that your visitors will benefit from the rich site experience, but those without Flash (which includes the search engines), will be able to access your content in a plain-text form.
Always remember that the benefit of text-based site content is that search engines will, for the foreseeable future, be able to index your site more efficiently than a site that’s heavy on images and Flash-based content.￼
Clean and Logical Site Structure
The ideal site structure you drew up in the section called “Navigational Flow and Menu Structure” now needs to be put into practice. A good rule of thumb when structuring a website is to have your home page dedicated to your three most important and relevant keywords. Each level below that should focus on a core group of related keywords. The more diverse your target audience, the more silos of content you need to add into the site structure.
There’s no limit to the number of silos of content a website can feature. This should be based purely on the number of opportunities available for related sets of keywords that have sufficient search volume or commercial value. Just ensure that the structure you come up with makes sense on paper, or it will most likely confuse your visitors, as well as the search engines.
Just as texts in a natural language can include spelling or grammar errors, documents composed in a markup language such as HTML can fail to follow the rules of that language. The process of verifying whether a document is properly formed according to those rules is called validation, and the tool used is called a validator.
Invalid markup can cause layout issues and also impedes the search engines’ ability to read and index your content. Ensure that your pages are valid by running them through the W3C’s markup validator2 and fixing any errors that are flagged.