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Internal Linking, Navigation and Site Maps

Posted on 10.31.2007
The Web Design SEO Checklist  (Part Three)

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Welcome to part three of our Web Design SEO Checklist. Today we are covering Internal Linking, Navigation and Site Maps.

On-Site optimization is about two primary things; 1) getting your pages discovered and indexed, and 2) telling the search engines what keywords are relevant to those pages. A site’s internal links and navigation are great ways to do this.

A site’s navigation should use text links as much as possible. If you are required to use flash or java also provide a text link navigation in the footer. Text links are the purest and easiest type of link a search engine can follow. Also, using CSS, text links can be styled to look like and do almost anything a Java menu can do.

Using text links also provides an opportunity to reinforce keywords. This is done by using keywords in the linking text. So for example, instead of a link that uses the generic “Click Here” it might use a keyword. Using a keyword in a link reinforces that keyword for the page to which the link points.

Site maps are sort of like the safety net of SEO work. Even if your pages are hard to index (possibly due to java navigation or dynamic parameters) having an easy to access sitemap may provided some hope. Here’s why:

A site map is essentially a page, or small handful of pages, with an organized list of text links to all of your websites most important pages. Because it is organized and because it uses text links a search engine can easily determine the main topics and themes of your pages as well as find their locations. So a site map covers the 2 primary issues related to on-site SEO; indexing and keyword theme reinforcement.

A specific type of site map called an XML Sitemap should also be included in a site’s development. An XML Sitemap, however, is not intended for humans. Rather it is a protocol agreed upon by the major search Engines (see sitemap.org). This protocol is essentially a direct method to submit all the pages listed on the XML Sitemap to the Major Search Engines.

Next we discuss Relevant Keyword and Title Tags Usage.

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John Fitzsimmons is a Search Marketing Manager with Spiderbait.com. He also consults on web development projects and social media.

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