Ensure That Your Site Design is Optimized for Search Engines
This article was published in the Winter 2000 issue
If you build your infertility Web site with an understanding of how search engines work, it will be more likely that your site will rank high in the search engines. Internet Health Resources provides this Web page with tips to help you optimize your Web site design for search engines:
If you don't understand some of the tips, then you may want to discuss them with your Web site developer.
Educational Web pages are intended to educate the target audience about a particular topic (e.g., ICSII, assisted hatching, etc.), rather than to promote an organization's services or products. In addition to the fact that users like to read educational material, educational pages can dramatically help your Web site get more traffic from search engines, for the following reasons:
There is an additional reason why educational Web pages will increase the traffic to your Web site:
Background: Some Web site developers like to build Web sites using frames. A frames Web page is a special kind of page that divides the browser window into different areas called frames. Each frame area can display a different Web page. Although many Web site developers think it looks attractive and hip to use frames, there is significant downside to using frames. Using frames will cause immense difficulties in promoting your Web site. To assess whether your site is build in frames, check for the following conditions:
The problems: A "frame-based" Web site creates two major problems for promoting the site:
In both cases, the result is that you will receive less traffic to your Web site. A frame-based Web site can be a major obstacle to getting lots of traffic from search engines and Web directories.
For additional information about problems and solutions with frames, refer to Build Your Web Site Without Frames.
3. Ensure that the important keywords are in the Web page text, rather than inside images.
Background: Search engines regularly index millions of Web pages and keep track of the main keywords on those pages. If, for example, an Internet user enters the word "infertility" into the search engine, it will query its database of keywords and return Web pages that contain the word "infertility."
The problem: Search engines cannot "read" words inside of images and thus they won't index those words. If they don't index those words (e.g., "infertility" or "ICSII") then, when a person enters those words into a search engine, that Web page will not be found. Here are a couple of specific instances where this can be a problem:
Background: The vast majority of Web pages have hyperlinks for accessing another Web page. Often the hyperlinks are grouped together on the top or side of the page into a "navigation bar" which allows users to quickly access lots of pages on the Web site. The navigation bar hyperlinks can be either:
The problem: Search engines index Web sites by first indexing the home page, then following the site links to other pages to index those pages. However, some search engines cannot follow image links. Consequently, if your navigation bar is made of image links, those search engines will not be able to index many pages on your Web site. If they cannot index the pages then they cannot
Some solutions: In order to provide the text links for the search engines, you can do one of the following:
5. Avoid using the exact same color for the text and the Web page background.
Background: Some Web pages have text that is the same color as the Web page background. In this situation it might seem that a user could not read text that is the same color (e.g., white) as the Web page background). However, consider a Web site with pages that have a white background and the following:
The problem: In the past, some people tried to fool the search engines by hiding keywords (e.g. "infertility") in the pages by making the keyword text the same color as the page background. That way normal users would not see, for example, the word "infertility" repeated 100 times. But the hope was that the "dumb" search engines would read the word and thereby think that this was a really important infertility page. This trick was called keyword spamming.
However, search engines have caught onto this trick and they now penalize people who attempt to use keyword spamming by: a) penalizing a Web page that has too many of the same keywords (e.g. "infertility" 100 times) on the page, and b) some search engines penalize text that is the same color as the background under the assumption that the Web site owner is trying to spam the search engine.
A solution: The basic solution is to change the color of the text to a color different from the page background. For example, you can change white text to a slightly off white color.