One of the most common tactics some SEO professionals use to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt with Website owners is the following myth:
“We looked at the code on your site and noticed there are some problems with it. It`s not optimized as well as it could be.”
The Dodge: Do you know how to write code in HTML? If you’re like most Website owners, you may not have the technical skills to look at the HTML source code and determine what might be wrong.
The Facts: A well-coded site may in fact rank higher than a site that has confusing code.
How This SEO Myth is Like an Oil Change
It`s not much different than going into a quick oil change establishment. You get your oil changed and they inevitably tell you that you need a new air filter. Do you change your own air filter? And, do you know how often it needs to be changed? Every 3,000 miles? Some experts say once a year or every 50,000 miles.
Shake it out, but you don’t need to replace it every time you change your oil. However, if you don`t know that much about cars, and the guy in the uniform tells you to replace it for $29.99, it`s easier just to say “yes.” So, you get it replaced and feel you won’t risk having any expensive problems in the future.
Your Website may be that way too. The reality is that it may in fact (as some sites do) have code that is tough for search engines to understand.
To help debunk the myth, there are 9 factors that are legitimately difficult for Google and other search engines to crawl through and understand when reviewing a site. In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we’ll explore Factors 1-4:
1. Lots of Graphics. Graphic designers like to design graphics which appear as text. Search engines don’t “read” images. Sometimes important words (such as your company name or valuable keyword phrase) may be illustrated in your images and labeled something generic like “logo.gif.” One work around is to use an ALT tag in the code that defines your images. Search engines can read ALT tags.
2. Non-Standard Navigation. Some sites have navigation systems that are confusing to a search engine, use graphics, Flash or can`t be easily indexed. Is your site one of them?
3. Not Using a Standard Layout System. Your headlines should use a Heading 1 tag (H1), Heading 2 (H2) and paragraph layout system that search engines understand easily.
4. Store Finder Search Box. If the only way someone can find your store location is to enter their zip code into a box, then a search engine isn`t going to be able to find all of those pages. Instead, it’s best for you to list stores by state, with text links that make it easy for a search engine to follow (and for your viewers to click).
Ready for Part 2 with Factors 5-9? Read more here.
In the meantime, what’s been your experience? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.
About Guest Blogger Jeff Finkelstein: Jeff is the founder of Boulder, Colorado-based Customer Paradigm, an interactive marketing firm that has helped its clients achieve their goals through Search Engine Optimization, eCommerce, Web Design and various other marketing strategies. An expert on Internet Privacy and Web Marketing, Jeff evangelizes the customer experience and helps businesses design sequenced interactions that lead to loyal, delighted customers.