SEO Optimization

Posted March 27th, 2005 by Mike Cherim

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is something which should be taken into consideration when focusing on accessibility. Not for the impaired visitor or anything like that, but for all visitors (access is access after all). To optimize a site for search engines and access the following should be considered, listed in no particular order as all are important:

  • Validity: You will want to declare a Document Type or DOCTYPE and make sure your markup is valid to such. A valid website with proper syntax is a good website.
  • Construction: Frames or iFrames are not search engine friendly and will effectively block/delay search engines from accessing content unless direct relational links are provided in the document’s header. If global headers aren’t used, the navigation structure (last page/next page) can be included to help the spiders find their way around. Eventually these things will work themselves out, but that wastes valuable time. If a global header is used it can impede the spiders, but it can make the site much faster so it may be negligible if frames aren’t being used to house the content portions. This latter case is the situation at I use a global header (via PHP (see article), but it helps with page speed quite a bit.
  • Meta Data: You want to ensure you include the right meta tags in your head. I’ve seen so many articles on meta tags and I know there is a lot of misinformation out there. I will try to not lead you astray. You should have the following, and note that many others aren’t needed and just impede SEO performance (the content=" " portions are left empty here, but if you don’t know what goes in the just ask or use the header at as an example:
    • meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="" (This is necessary and must be used for browsers to know what character set to employ. Case sensitivity is important here)
    • meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="" (This is necessary as it tells the browser what language pack to use. Case sensitivity is important here.)
    • meta name="generator" content=" " (While this is not critical, it should be employed, it is used to determine what software made the site, this is especially important if the site uses proprietary markup — which it shouldn’t, of course.)
    • meta http-equiv="PICS-Label" content="" (Used to rate your site, if you want to be found by kids who are limited by parental restrictions, but don’t abuse it. A PICS label is something you get by the honor system, again, don’t abuse it. You can obtain a Safe Surf PICS label at
    • meta name="author" content="" (This identifies the author of the site and is rather important actually, otherwise it’s anonymous and that’ll hurt your SEO ranking.)
    • meta http-equiv="reply-to" content="" (This is for the official email address for the site, and is a good thing to include so it’s not anonymous, but I suggest using a spam-filtered address or even to use Unicode characters so evil spiders don’t abuse it.)
    • meta name="description" content="" (This is specific list of comma-separated words describing what the site entails and what it’s about. This is very important to search engines, but be brief and concise and keep it under 256 characters.)
    • meta name="copyright" content="" (If the site is copyrighted you should include this. If not, leave it out.)
    • meta name="keywords" content="" (The is a specific list of comma-separated words you want to offer search engines if you want to be included. This is very important to search engines, but be brief and concise and keep it under 256 characters. Don’t worry about cases sensitivity, employ it logically or default to lowercase, even with proper nouns, as you’re just wasting characters you could use for other, more apt keyword.)
    • If I didn’t list some that you’ve seen or used yourself, it’s because they aren’t needed for search engine optimization. This may include "distribution" (global is default), "cache" (unless you have a reason to not have the content cached which may be the case for a forum and such), "revisit" (the spiders will come back when they are called upon or feel like it), "expire" (Huh? I fail to see the point of this but maybe someone can let me know because as far as I know the spiders won’t come back until they are called upon based on your keywords or content or when they feel like it), "rating" (PICs Label is better as it’s officially recognized), "robots" don’t say no to them for legitimate sites. Just try to foil them if you choose not to be found. If you want them to visit you, there’s no need to address them.), and others.
  • Broken Links: Ideally you want none. This may also include slow links into this as linking to slow websites will hamper your ranking as well, especially if the links time out.
  • Title your site: “Untitled Document” does nothing to help you be found.
  • Images: Keep them in limited number and of reasonable size. This will help page speed tremendously.
  • Spelling and Word Count: This is a tough one if you have words which make sense to your audience but may not be recognized by convention. Spiders like words they know and thus common words are better. As far as spelling,well that will create unknown words and thus it’ll hurt your ranking. This part is avoidable so spell well if you can. Try to limit slang, etc.
  • Download time: It is ideal to ensure your pages, especially you index, default, or home download in 8 seconds or less on a 56kbs dial-up connection.

I hope this helps. If anyone wants to comment and correct me, well that would be great as I’m not an SEO expert, but this is good information to the best of my knowledge. I’m just trying to provide useful content.

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