Rule One: Stick to Your Keywords
Pick a few keywords or phrases that describe your site. Use them, and
words related to them, whenever it’s natural to do so. Repeating them
uselessly is no good (rule Zero), use them in sentences, headlines,
Rule Two: Content is King
Users don’t search for design, they search for content. If your site
doesn’t have content people want, no one will look at it.
Every page on your site should follow the Inverted Pyramid. Each page
should lead with a relevant H1 tag with one of your keywords, and the
first paragraph of text should be a summary of the rest of the page.
Rule Three: Clean Code is Searchable Code
Build your sites in a text editor, and write clean, human-readable
HTML. The HTML should follow the conceptual structure of the page,
navigation first, followed by the H1 tag, then the first paragraph,
etc. Try to use descriptive tags when possible. Use UL for lists, P
for paragraphs, H tags for heads and subheads, and STRONG for bolded
text. Don’t overuse Divs.
Your site can still be artistic and cool, that’s what CSS is for.
Rule Four: The Home Page is the Most Important Page
Your home page is the key to your site being found by search engines.
It should summarize the rest of the site, and give a clear, compelling
reason for a user to look at the other pages in the site.
Rule Five: Links Have Meaning
Search engines pay a lot of attention to the links on your site, and
the words used in those links. Never use “click here” or “see more”
for a link. The link text should describe where the link will take the
user, such as “more examples of CSS web design” or “learn how we can
improve your SEO.”
The more relevant the links on a page, the more findable the page
becomes. Don’t go overboard, and don’t link to anything irrelevant. If
your page is focused on minimalist web design, a link to the Design
MeltDown page on minimalism will boost your SEO. A link to a hilarious
picture of a cat will not.
Rule Six: Title Tags for the Win
Every page in your site should have a title with the site name and a
short description of the page. About 60 letters total. Include a
keyword. Remember that the page title is what appears in search
results, it should give users a clear reason to click on it.
Your navigation links should have title attributes that match the
titles of your pages. It’s a small thing, but it will give you a
significant SEO improvement.
Rule Seven: Alt Tags Matter
Every image on your site should have an alt tag. Especially images
that are relevant to the page. If your page is focused on CSS tricks,
labelling a screenshot “example of rounded CSS corners” will improve
your page’s findability. Labelling it “screenshot” or “image” will do
Rule Eight: Ignore Most Meta Tags
A long time ago meta tags were the secret to SEO. Those days are gone.
The only meta tag that really matters now is the description tag.
Search engines may use it to provide the text under the link to your
page in their results. Make sure it describes the page in a way that
explains why a user searching for your content would want to look at
Rule Nine: Have a Site Map
Make sure you have a site map. This is an xml file that describes the
structure of your page. Make one, and give it to Google.
Rule Ten: Design for Humans
Search engines are designed to find what humans want. That means the
best way to make your site findable is to design it for humans. Your
job as a designer is to solve a problem, not make art, prove a point,
serve your ego or break a boundry. In this case, your problem is to
provide your users with a site that is easy to use and full of what
they’re looking for. If you can do that, the search engines will find