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Web Page Design Solutions

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A special report from the Search Engine Strategies 2001 Conference, August 16-17, San Francisco CA.

In a roundtable entitled "Page Design Solutions" Barbara Coll of (, and Derrick Wheeler of ( provided conference attendees valuable information on modifying Web sites to make their content more prominent in the search engines.

"When designing your Web site pages, especially the home page, pay particular attention to the content of the page. While images, fancy technologies like Java, Flash, and sound help with conveying the brand and culture of your company, they do not help with getting good placement in search engine results. Today, the words that appear, on the home page, in 'clean' html (paragraph tags), play an ever increasing role in determining your position in search engine results," stated Coll.

Coll also pointed out an often overlooked optimization strategy: creating an effective site map. Site maps are naturally search-engine friendly pages that point to other search-engine friendly pages on a Web Site. Most people do not know how to use them effectively.

Coll stated that site maps should contain: (a) a text-based, non-image blurb using your most important keywords to describe your company, products, and services, (b) text-based, keyword-rich links to all important content pages on your site, and (c) the standard navigation and branding images for the site. Site maps should always be at root level of your Web site directory structure.

Since the crawler-based search engines are increasingly using link analysis and link popularity to calculate relevancy, Wheeler suggested that "viral marketing" can be an effective strategy. He used an example of a software company with a free download on a Web page. That page can be written about and linked to from popular sites such as Wired, C/NET, and ZDNet where millions of people go each day specifically to download, thus significantly increasing the "popularity" of that Web site.

The two speakers also addressed specific questions about spam, stating that any hidden text or redirects are still considered spam by all of the major search engines. The available technology for delivering spam-like pages (Cascading Style Sheets, JavaScript, etc.) may have increased, but the spam rules remain unchanged.

Shari Thurow is the Marketing Director and Webmaster for Grantastic Designs, Inc. ( She has been design and promoting web sites since 1995 for businesses in a wide range of fields.

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