Search Engine Optimized and Search Engine Friendly are the qualities that intertwine in a good webstore. On the face of it, it’s rather difficult to see the difference between them, yet it is there and it is rather significant. SEO is a continuous improvement and adaptation of a web site to fit in the changing context and gain more involvement; SEF, on the other hand, is a one-time only process, performed right before the store is launched.
While the goal of SEO is to make your store customer-friendly, SEF’s aim is to make it most accessible to web search engines. Therefore, SEF focuses on technical aspects like site architecture, URLs, structures, html code, and is to be performed jointly by programmers and designers.
As we made it clear what SEF is, you’ve probably begun wondering what can you do at the initial stages of online store development to make it search engine friendly. Here are three aspects you must pay great attention to:
To discover and index new information that constantly emerges on the Internet search engines use web crawlers – an automated program that browses the web. Apart from indexing, they can be used for link check, HTML code validation, gathering email addresses, etc., but today we will focus on the following: how to make search engine crawlers see your website?
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- Website structure. Every page on your webstore should have a part in a certain architecture, consisting of categories and subcategories. Otherwise, crawlers simply won’t find the way to the page, and your content, however search engine optimized, informative and useful it is, won’t be listed in search engine indexes.
- Remember, that crawlers can’t see pages containing submission forms. It happens because such forms usually require to submit login-password, making it inaccessible to crawlers.
- Links overflow. A search engine can index only a certain number of links on a given page, and if this amount is surpassed, it will recognize the page as spam. So don’t make your page too dense with links.
- Robots.txt. This text file is embedded in a page to flag the search engine that it is allowed to crawl on it. You can also disallow crawling by adding the “nofollow” syntax, banning crawling bots from it. This way you can protect sensitive information you don’t want to see in search results.
Search engines don’t see and read your website the same as your visitors do. Where customers see text blocks, pictures, animation and beautiful web page layout, search engine crawlers see a mixture of words and code. To improve your webstore position in search results, make sure your text content is in HTML format. What comes to visual and other non-text elements, I can recommend you the following formatting solutions:
- Alt text for images. Instead of a picture, a search engine crawler sees its alt
attributes, so fill in the alt text bar with a description containing your key words for Google and other engines to see it.
- Video and audio transcript. You can’t translate such content into html, yet you can transcribe it into text. This way search engines will identify it correctly and rank it higher.
- Search boxes or breadcrumbs structure. This way you will kill two birds with one stone: provide your visitors with better navigation capabilities and embed in the site structure links the search engine spiders will discover.
- Flash or Java plugins. Unfortunately, crawlers will never see your gorgeous informative website if you created in Flash or Java. Add a special Flash or Java plugin to translate such data into the readable by search engines format.
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If you think about it, URLs appear in a number of very important to your Search Engine Friendliness places:
- in the search results, affecting the website position
- in the address bar or a website, and though it doesn’t make any significant difference here, you can’t but agree that seeing a messy long link is off-putting.
- in text, when a certain page is referenced
Taking into account URL significance, I would advise you to take a hard close look at links of your website and make use of some of the following advice:
- Short and sweet. It is especially relevant to online shop, since there can be numerous categories and subcategories of produce. Make them as short and precise as possible to make links looks neat.
- Use words only. Don’t leave your link looking all messy like http/website.com/124-b-m56/ – WordPress, Wix and other solutions allow to change it to anything you need.
- Don’t overuse keywords. Focus on one key notion and use it in the URL – don’t make it heavy with words that don’t correspond directly with the page.
- Separate words with hyphens. For URLs you can separate words with any sign, like a “+” or a “%”, but the thing is they don’t always reflect correctly. It’s better not to risk and separate all words with “-”
This all for Search Engine Friendly pages. If you want to learn about SEO for Ecommerce, follow the link to our article SEO for Ecommerce: Search Engine Optimization and Keyword Research. If you have a question or something to add, feel free to leave us a comment.