SEO & Website Design

Narrative on Search Engine Optimization:

This business is growing in leaps and bounds. Ever since Joe-Average Citizen gained access to broadband-always-on connections, every business needs optimization. Broadband has killed the local Yellowpage Directory. No one picks up the book, they Google. Need tires? Type in, "tires, your location, and tire size", and instantly you have local vendors, and in most cases, special sale prices! Five years ago, my only clients were international corporations. Now, every mom-n-pop needs me.

Well, perhaps it makes sense to write a bit about optimization, what it is and how I do it. Individual tasks are important, but the big, overall picture is extremely important while being very hard for most people to grasp.

When clients come to me they fall into one of three situation. Some have no website and want one. Most have a website but it is totally non-productive. A few have a decent website that produces some business, and they want to improve its performance.


Existing websites must be evaluated before offering a plan of action and a quote.

We have to find and evaluate:

age of the domain
page structure
meta tags
code validation
available text
originality (is content copied from elsewhere)
alternate text
"value" of content (offers free information?)
volume of content (paragraph, narrative form? Enough text to fully describe the subject?)
visual appearance (least important to us, but always important to the site owner)


Evaluation starts using the Google toolbar. Download from It installs in Internet Explorer. This allows you to see pagerank.

The toolbar also has tools for backlinks and history, but these do not work well. They seem to have been abandoned by Google in mid-stream. Using the Google search window is better (but still imperfect). To check backlinks (incoming links), type a search in the following format: This shows incoming links that Google deems worthy enough to count (count as what, nobody really knows. This a strange part of their algorithm that no one seems able to really figure out). More incoming links is better than fewer.

To see when the domain was originally registered, go to Type in the url. The results page includes details, including the date of origination and its last renewal.

To view page structure it is best to right-click on any part of the page that is not a graphic. Select "view source". Copy this into Dreamweaver (code view), and see what you get when you look at design view. Overly complicated pages will be missing elements and content (don't expect any graphics to show at this point, even from the simplest pages).


Go back to code view of the same page and scroll to the header. Look for three meta tags, title, description, keywords.

Title should load as much prime information as possible into the first five words and should extend to approximately 10 - 15 words. Ideally it should be structured so that ANY partial clip, four words, five words, seven, etc., would result in an informative statement about the site.

Description is similar to the title but is in paragraph form and extends to 20 - 50 words. The first five, seven, nine, and ten words must be good stand-alone descriptive statements.

Keywords are easy, a list of 70 - 150 words and phrases that relate to the site's subject.

To check for code errors go to Type in the url to validate code.

Go back to the page in IE. Click Edit/select all and paste all into notepad. What you see in notepad is the total text that search engines see on that page. Sometimes it is shocking. Many pages show a lot of apparent text onscreen that is really graphics. Search engines don't read graphics!


Log onto and type in the site URL, page by page. Copyscape will tell you if the text is clipped from somewhere else.

To check for alt text, go into Dreamweaver and click on each graphic. Check the properties window to see if each graphic has an alt text tag. Or, in IE, hover your mouse cursor over each graphic. Alt text should show for each picture.

Click through EVERY link on the site. Ideally you should progress logically toward a purchase of some sort (whatever the site is selling). You should not end up back on the same page more than once. There should always be a clear and intuitive avenue back to anywhere on the site you may have been. Contact information should be visible, or just one click away, at all times. Shortcuts giving the viewer an opportunity to buy NOW, in one click, should be available from anywhere in the site.

The last three values I listed, content value, text volume, and visual presentation are each subjective, or at least comparative. Look at the competition. OUR site has to outperform our competition on each of these values.


Other useful things you can look at are tools offered at (they mask their URL so when you get to this page you have to click on "Check out our other Free SEO Tools"). Look at type in my site's url, This site shows cached history pages back to 1998 (my site went back to 1993, but the site started after that!).

Have fun. This message has a lot of detail that collectively gives you an overview of one aspect of what we do.

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