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   » Main Page » SEO » The Full Guide to Building a Site

Building a site?
Do you know what you need?

Most don't.

Google has set a lot of traps for what they consider spam and "Over SEO".
From thin content, to top heavy pages, to frames, to some exact match domains, duplicate content, to poor performance issues, incorrect markup, and improper presentation, Google waits to pounce on anyone not living up to their standards. 

There is only one format that is optimal, everything else has less performance.

This applies to user conversions and search performance.

Google is your largest market segment with the highest ROI.
(Return On Investment).
If you are going to design to a template, make certain it is one that Google likes*.

"Design is not art,
it’s fixing problems for people.
I have to create things that are useful and simple." 

Google's Jon Wiley,
Head of Search Design


Social Networking will bring you traffic and authority.
It won't do much for your search results. Google has seen to that.
It WILL increase your PageRank. All those chats, discussions, and on topic links are directly attributable to PR.

PageRank is Google's link evaluation system.

It has been a stand alone metric for a few years now.
It is no longer based on a strictly mathematical computation.
This was changed in the Mayday update in 2010 WITH THE ADDITION OF RELEVANCE.

PageRank is now based on the relevance between linked <=> linking pages.

  • Domain Name Keywords

  • Title Keywords

  • Heading Keywords

  • Code Markup.

  • File Name

  • Position of Keywords

  • Anchor Text

  • Decoration of Text.

  • Semantics

  • Alt Text

Linking Has Changed.

Google has rewritten their stance on BackLinking.

They have tightened their controls.
More closely defined their concept of spam.
They consider non-topical links spam and links on low value pages the same.

They insist on the presentation of information with little or no user interaction. (Scrolling or defining ads).
"Top Heavy" filters are in place to monitor the use of ads and graphics above the fold.

They want the pages to load quickly.

Other things to watch out for are exact match domain names (EMD), and keyword stuffing.

Over optimization is another trap for the unwary. Most seem to think it means keyword stuffing, but I consider it to also mean that one *might* be singled out for using EVERY SEO factor on a page.

If you optimize all the factors, title, URL, file names, headings, alt tags, etc, etc, you could fall into the "over optimizing" trap.

One last thing to keep in mind is that Google has targeted SEO as a (mostly) bad thing.

They have a filter in place that homes in on obvious SEO changes to a site and then randomizes the positioning of the pages so that there is no obvious cause and effect.

This filter can also be used to target repeat SEO efforts and *could* remove all the site's search listings.

What can be done?
How do we safely satisfy Google and get a site that performs?

Google tells us "Design For Users, Not For Search Engines."

While this is basically accurate, we need to add that source code markup should define the semantic hierarchy in the same fashion as the visible component defines it for the human visitor.

Google not only uses text position, size, and decoration in it's evaluation of the visual presentation but they confirm by markup. Heading tags, links, position in code, markup, all count highly in defining a place in the structure of the topic's relevance. Graphics can support these locations.

Google also relies heavily on semantics in text processing using a form of Latent Semantic Indexing.

Not only do the keywords count, their synonyms and descriptors and their positions in regards to the main keyword(s) also factor in. 

Google has developed this factor to the extent that link references are unnecessary.

Once we understand that text size and position count, we can start to look at how people read from a monitor, which is different from a piece of printed material.

Eye Tracking Studies have determined that there is a definite pattern to where people look. has a lot of valuable information studies, but one can say that basically it is an F shaped pattern that starts under the left side to the top header space.

First 2 Words: A Signal for the Scanning Eye

Summary: Testing how well people understand a link's first 11 characters shows whether sites write for users, who typically scan rather than read lists of items.

Remember that for most people, only the first 11 characters on a line count.

Let this guide you when composing your titles and descriptions.

The same principal holds true for the way people judge relevance.
The LESS information the better.

When people search to satisfy their quest for relevance the "Presumption of Optimal Relevance" comes into play and it will be manifest to people who are engaged in inferential communication that each other have the notion of relevance in their minds.

This will cause each person engaged in the interaction to arrive at the presumption of relevance, which is the notion that (a) implicit messages are relevant enough to be worth bothering to process, and (b) the speaker will be as economical as they possibly can be in communicating it.

In 3 words, "Shorter Is Better".

How Users Read on the Web
 Nielsen Norman Group
Evidence-Based User Experience Research, Training, and Consulting

How users read on the web.

They don't .

People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan  the page , picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites  we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. (Update: a newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites.)

As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text , using

  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)

  • meaningful sub-headings (not "clever" ones)

  • bulleted lists

  • one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)

  • the inverted pyramid  style, starting with the conclusion

  • half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

So we know that when presenting relevance you want to make it available as the first thing the visitor sees when entering your site.  (In the header after the logo).
You want to decorate the text so the user understands the importance. (Most important text in

and largest text on the page.

We also know from eye tracking that the left side of the page is of great import and to take advantage of this, your primary navigation should take up this space.


On the right you can setup the cart displays, login, ads, and secondary information.

Now you have your layout, where to position the necessary relevance factors, your markup, and the general look and feel of the site.

On first visit you want the site to load in about a second or under and your primary information available without scrolling, flash graphics can be used, but they should be confined to graphics of 320x320 pixels at a maximum.
Full page flash productions just do not work as they do not impart significant information to the spider indexing the page.


Speaking of graphics, "Image or Banner Blindness" is a very real problem.  

Click to enlarge ->

In some cases, buckets, or images used for internal marketing (that means, images to direct people within your own website), are sometimes completely overlooked by visitors.

Why? It’s an image, plain and simple. More and more, users are associating images with generic and useless fluff. Some eye-tracking studies demonstrate that images supplementing articles are often completely overlooked in favor of content. They’re given the same attention as web banners for competitors. Sure, some people do look at them, but not a lot of people.

*When searching for specific information on a website, users focus only on the parts of the page where they assume the relevant information will be, small text and hyperlinks

When you do use images, use them cautiously and to supplement the text.
Rather than purchase stock photos, try using some of your staff at work.

Photos of happy smiling people have little impact on your readers, unless they relate directly to your content.

Watch out for rotating graphics.
If the banner displays an image not specifically relevant to the page, it may push the content on that page down in terms of value.

Pushing Navigation Down
The primary purpose of your home page should be to create a high-level map of the world for your visitors so they can understand the range of available products that you carry. The giant banner will take up all of the prime real estate on the home page and push this navigation off the visible top of the page - sabotaging the page's primary purpose.

Rotating Banners? Just Say No!

Tim Ash | April 3, 2012 |

Motion-Triggered Reassessment
Motion in a scene triggers the reptilian portion of our brain. This occurs at the level of automatic survival instinct and cannot be avoided. Frequent motion changes in a part of the page keep stealing the visitors' attention and make it difficult to visually prioritize or to consume any other content on the page.

Inconsistent Messaging and Look
Often the individual frames of your slideshow will look very different. They will use wildly divergent messaging, visual imagery, and calls to action. Since they are so visually dominant on the page, the experience of your site radically and repeatedly changes within the span of a few seconds - creating a schizophrenic identity for your site.



Building a website is not as simple as it seems on the surface.

With the amount of competition in every segment of the market it is imperative that the site be done in a manner which conforms to how people AND search engines discover and assimilate information from web-pages.

It is not just a matter of putting words and images on a page, it is the science of understanding and guiding the reader to a conclusion that benefits both them and the site owner, be that a download, sign-up, request for more information, or a sale.

Few "home made", DIY sites perform well, just because of the complexity of supporting factors needed.
Businesses, if they are to succeed need to get their priorities straight and have their website developed professionally.


Due Diligence.
Additional reading:

*Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a web site. These guidelines are based on three years of research that included over 4,500 people.

Paranoia as a SEO Survival Trait With all the changes and enforcements being made to Google's linking rules, it will pay the site owner to be extremely careful in their SEO plans.

Google's Mind Games (Updated 8/31) Google introduces the "We are going to screw with the heads of the SEO people" patent.

Panda, Penguin, Linking, Anchor Text a detective story.
The FIRST thing we have to realize is that correlation is NOT causation.

Writing Title and Meta Tags Title and Meta Tag Composition.
Google puts a lot of weight on the title.

Doing your keyword research. As a business owner you must understand what it is that your customers or clients are looking for when they do an online search.

Eye Tracking Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, especially when prospective customers are conducting their initial research to compile a shortlist of vendors.

Basic Website Building Questions To Ask Your Mentor From keyword research to hosting to design and marketing. Do you know what you don't know?


Writing for the web. Designing for display on a monitor is quite different than designing for print.
Text on a monitor is interpreted differently than printed text.

Defining Relevance Steps needed to comply with Google's desire for relevant copy.

The "H" is never silent. "H" tags or heading tags, tell the search engines the importance of the text enclosed in their brackets, which are normally keywords used in page headings.

Evidence-Based User Experience Research

If you do not want to do it yourself, send me an email to or contact me in skype, I am vre-crash. NO charge for the inital consultation.


Marketing your developed website.

Social Networking

Hurray! I have one of
the top 1% most viewed
@LinkedIn profiles for 2012.

As one of the top 1% of LinkedIn's members and a 19 year veteran of online marketing, I would  advise getting involved and contributing in group sessions.
Local Directories  Get listed on quality sites like Yellow Pages, business directories, city business indexes, and trade publications.
Don't worry if you have to pay or not. Google advises AdWords customers that thyey should get a YellowPage listing as they will often come up #1 in an organic keyword search.
Local Search  Make certain to include a local address and phone in a well viewed location on your site. Make it a


Link Building Do NOT try to build links to influence your SEO.
Consider link building only for traffic reasons, or to increase the quality of the topic's information silo.

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