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Critical Components of Optimizing a Site

Each of the following components are critical pieces to a site’s ability to be crawled, indexed and ranked by search engine spiders. When properly used in the construction of a website, these features give a site/page the best chance of ranking well for targeted keywords.

Accessibility

An accessible site is one that ensures delivery of its content successfully as often as possible. The functionality of pages, validity of HTML elements, uptime of the site’s server and working status of site coding and components all figure into site accessibility. If these features are ignored or faulty, both search engines and users will select other sites to visit.

The biggest problems in accessibility that most sites encounter fit into the following categories. Addressing these issues satisfactorily will avoid problems getting search engines and visitors to and through your site.

  • Broken Links – If an HTML link is broken, the contents of the linked-to page may never be found. In addition, some surmise that search engines negatively degrade rankings on sites & pages with many broken links.
  • Valid HTML & CSS – Although arguments exist about the necessity for full validation of HTML and CSS in accordance with W3C guidelines, it is generally agreed that code must meet minimum requirements of functionality and successful display in order to be spidered and cached properly by the search engines.
  • Functionality of Forms and Applications – If form submissions, select boxes, JavaScript or other input-required elements block content from being reached via direct hyperlinks, search engines may never find them. Keep data that you want accessible to search engines on pages that can be directly accessed via a link. In a similar vein, the successful functionality and implementation of any of these pieces is critical to a site’s accessibility for visitors. A non-functioning page, form or code element is unlikely to receive much attention from visitors.
  • File Size – With the exception of a select few documents that search engine consider to be of exceptional importance, web pages greater than 150K in size are typically not fully cached. This is done to reduce index size, bandwidth and load on the servers, and is important to anyone building pages with exceptionally large amounts of content. If it’s important that every word and phrase be spidered and indexed, keeping file size under 150K is highly recommended. As with any online endeavor, smaller file size also means faster download speed for users – a worthy metric in its own right.
  • Downtime & Server Speed – The performance of your site’s server may have an adverse impact on search rankings and visitors if downtime and slow transfer speeds are common. Invest in high quality hosting to prevent this issue.

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