Department for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science. Digital Tourism Business Framework Project. to Search Engine Optimisation

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1 Department for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science Digital Tourism Business Framework Project How-To Barriers Guide to Search Engine Optimisation Many features of a websites design that create inadequate functionality and frustration for your online visitor, can also act as barriers to search engines and their ability to crawl and search your site efficiently. This in turn can impact your Search Engine ranking and also the likelihood of potential customers finding your site. The ability to review your website yourself, looking for any key mistakes is very important. It will allow you to correct any common design faults, which will improve your search engine rankings and also enhance your online visitors experience. Here we cover some of the most common design faults to look out for.. This factsheet is one of a series developed under the DTBF project - see and for further information on the project, using technology in your tourism business and the help available.

2 Common Website Design Faults There are a number of features in a website s design which can create inadequate functionality and frustration for your online visitor, who is only ever one click away from leaving your site. If your site is difficult to use or has too many problems - they will go to a competitor! Some of these mistakes also act as barriers to search engines and can impair the search engines ability to crawl and search your site efficiently. Identifying and removing any barriers to search engines on your website, will make a huge impact on your search engine ranking. Listed below are just a few of the more common website design faults which are still found in websites today. Too Many Clicks - Unclear Navigation Why do visitors want to look at your website? What are they looking for? How will they find it? We have all visited websites where we ve had to navigate through endless pages and inconsistent layout, ending up in total confusion and still not having found what we were looking for. A website that has a clear navigation system which is simple to use will entice visitors to return. Are: your links clearly defined and easy to see? your links in the same place on every page? your links logically named? your calls to action and information easy to find? new visitors to your site are able to find everything they need easily? Page 2 of 6

3 Good navigation is vital for your online visitors and also for the search engines, if you want to appear at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). This will also allow the search engine crawlers to go though your website and index your pages correctly. Flash Flash is vector animation software, designed to create animations for display on web pages. It s often used for banners, splash pages, advertisements, slideshows etc - it has been a very popular developer s tool. Flash applications and websites can though be large and slow to load. To be able to view a Flash file, your online visitor will need download a Flash plug-in, and these need regular updating which is inconvenient for your visitors and could prompt a leap to one of your competitors. This is not the only problem with Flash, it results in significant issues with accessibility, it doesn t display on all mobile devices. As search engines struggle to crawl through Flash driven pages, you should look to limit the use of Flash on your website. Splash Pages These are those annoying welcome or cover pages that can still be found on some websites. Splash pages are intended to entice the visitor into a website and often feature Flash animations and sound. Not only does this result in a pointless click for your online visitors but they also create problems for search engines, making it difficult for them to access your site to index it successfully. There is no need for Splash pages, any welcome text or graphics intended to welcome visitors can be placed on the sites home page which can then be correctly indexed and linked to through the site. This method gives your visitors instant access to your website without any need for further clicks. Frames Using frames allows the division of a web page into separate scrolling areas - using multiple, independent sections to create a single webpage. The three main problems with the use of frames are - they: Page 3 of 6

4 make it difficult for your online visitors to navigate and interact with your website especially if there are multiple frames that have to be scrolled through cause ranking problems with the search engines who are often only able to index the first part of the page, they can't crawl any deeper. So, any additional pages that use frames will not be included in the SERPS since they will not be indexed are a direct block to accessibility, reading devices are unable to determine the content. Frames are no longer popular - if your site still uses frames, it may be time to consider having a rebuild. Excessive or Insufficient Content Our online visitors tend to scan the content of a webpage, looking for the information that they need. They will not read a vast amount of copy word for word. If they can t find the relevant information they need within a few seconds, they will click the back button and leave (bounce from) your site. Well thought out headings and sub-headings will structure your web-pages. Your visitors can scan your pages quickly and see at a glance what each section of the page is about, easily finding the information that they need. When search engine crawlers read your content, they understand the importance of your headings which will help your search engine rankings. Search engines love content. The number of pages and the quality of your content is one of the main factors that search engines use to determine your ranking. Your content is important to the search engines as it tells them what keywords and phrases are the most relevant to your site. Out of Date Poor Content The search engine crawlers are constantly looking for updated pages. They rank these higher as they are more likely to be timely and relevant. If you get a good ranking the best way to keep it is to ensure you carry out regular updates. Page 4 of 6

5 Duplicate Content Search engines don't like duplicate content - they don't want to give their visitors the same old results. They will choose one of the pages to list in their search results pages, and will disregard any other pages with the duplicate content. Can You Have Too Many Key Words or Phrases? Using keywords too often on a webpage is known as keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is considered to be unethical search engine optimisation. Use too many Keywords and your website will be either ignored or penalised by the search engines. Also, the text on your pages will read very strangely to your human visitors. Your webpages should be written for and read well for your online visitors. The Absence of Inbound Links The absence of inbound links coming in to your website, from other quality websites, could have an impact on your search engine rankings, as link popularity is calculated on the number of links from other quality websites to yours. What is Unethical SEO? (Black Hat SEO) Using the wrong search engine optimisation methods, could get your web site banned by the search engines. Some search engine optimisation companies and software developers use unethical techniques and measures to artificially boost the search engine rankings of a website. Search engines continue to change their algorithms to prevent the flooding of results pages with irrelevant or low quality content. Listed below are some of the main unethical optimisation techniques: doorway pages - are not designed for real people, they are designed to trick the search engines into indexing the website in to a higher position cloaking and false redirects - these present different versions of webpage contents for both search engines and human visitors keyword stuffing - is filling a page with keywords within both the content and meta data of a page Page 5 of 6

6 hidden text or hidden links. This is putting lists of keywords in the same colour text as the background. Search engines can read this but humans cannot duplicated content on multiple pages link farms - sites that features links in no particular order which are totally unrelated to each other. Links on pages like these offer no inbound link popularity and many search engines will penalise sites that link to them any other method designed to trick search engines. Website Analytics It is important for you understand if any elements of your website need changing, as well as knowing which are working well and should be left as they are. You will find it useful to check your website analytics. If your bounce rate is high, it s time to work out why! You may want to read our Understanding Website Analytics fact sheet. Associated Reading/Viewing ICT Diagnostics Choosing a Web Professional to Build or Refresh Your Website Creating Your Website Brief Search Engine Optimisation Using Meta Data and Tags Effectively on Your Website Writing Great Content for your Website Understanding Website Analytics How To Guide Barriers to Search Engine Optimisation V1 May 2013 / Typeset in 12pt or above WEFO Project Reference Page 6 of 6

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