Following on from the previous article we are having a look at a few more of the mechanical do’s and don’ts when it comes to your website. Get it wrong, and, well ya… sorry for you.
Not to be confused with colonicalisation (things could get messy), canonicalisation is the practice of directing the user to a single dominant URL rather than using multiple URL’s for the same or similar content. Using multiple URL’s will result in search engines indexing the pages as duplicate content, confusing the search engine as to which is the original content, thus splitting both the page authority as well as the link authority, and still.
Three possible solutions to this problem are:
1. Use a 301/302 redirect for the offending URL’s.
2. Use rel=canonical tags in the subordinate pages.3. Do it ‘right’ the first time, your site will require less maintenance and use less bandwidth if your code is clean and canonicalised the moment it goes live.
Don’t: Try to be a smarty-pants and fix it by yourself.
Make sure a qualified professional is able to help you. If you aren’t quite as ‘code savvy’ as you think you are (because denial is not just a river in Egypt), you could catapult your entire website into a war zone.
Do: Use a simple content management system such as WordPress.
If you are able to navigate your own cms (content management system) and upload your own content regularly search engines will favour your site over similar sites which are stagnant. If your site is built in HTML, you will have to contact your web developer in order to update your site… and you have to pay your web developer each time too. It’s an all-round slow and expensive process which is wasteful if you don’t need a complex site.
Don’t: Diss the developers
Using a developer to run your site does have its perks. If you are using your site for commercial purposes and its more than a simple blog, a developer will help you decide just what’s right for your site. A web developers’ job is to have their finger on the pulse and keep abreast of industry trends and best practice in order to give your users the best browsing experience.
Lastly, designing the site. A website is the face of your business, ugly is not an option, let the pro’s handle the design! Please, some days I just want to tear my eyes straight out of my skull.
Do: If you have to use it, keep it to an absolute minimum.
We know it’s pretty and you spent years learning how to use it, but Flash is in the winter of its life (a seemingly never ending winter). Better yet, forgo the flash altogether.
Don’t: Use flash.
There is actually a very good reason for our seemingly disproportionate adverse reaction to the mere whisper of the word. Its old tech, its slow, heavy, inaccessible on mobile and search engines cannot read the site. If you go so far as to construct your entire site in Flash there is a special place on the internet for you – the place no one goes to. Your site will appear as one big file to Google and it won’t be able to index a single page even. I’m sorry if this is news to you, but its time you knew the truth.
Also known as the World Wide Web consortium, is an organisation which upholds a particular set of recognised standards in order to help guide both developers and browsers in the right direction. These standards are the best way to ascertain whether your code (HTML, CSS, Java script, etc) is acceptable or just plain shoddy.
Do: Use the W3C validator tool
Go to http://validator.w3.org to make sure your site runs smoothly in all major browsers and that there are no serious errors in your code.
Don’t: Stop there
Your website can pass the W3C validation and still not be quite right in other important areas. You still have to use your brain and make sure your site is not loading too slowly, its displaying correctly, its ranking well on search engines etc. There will never be one tool to do-all and fix-all… unless there’s something Blue Magnet don’t know, but we highly doubt that.
Easy to forget, but super-duper important…
Lastly, your site map. It will not only help your users bit it will also help the creepy-crawlies. HTML is the language of the people and XML that of the search engines. It’s best to have sitemaps in both languages, but if you can’t have both, think of your users first and put an HTML site map on your website.
We could keep going with the tech do’s and don’ts but alas, it is time to move on. In our next article we will dive into responsive design. Previously we grazed the surface, but there’s soooooo much more to discuss on this topic.