Every website owner usually wants to be seen on the first search results page in search engines like Google and social networks like Facebook. Unfortunately, there is not enough space on the first search results page for all the websites and businesses in the world, and users would quickly lose trust in search engines if it were possible to appear on the first page just by optimizing the site for search engines.
Around this topic, an industry of consultants has grown offering search engine optimization services.
I see two possibilities for optimizing a website. The first is to help the search engines by using 'HTML standards' and telling the 'truth' about your site and the second is to find other ways :-). This chapter covers the first possibility.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. Wikipedia
Search engine users like to click on natural, un-paid search results instead of paid ads. People try to avoid clicking ads. Google e.g. uses the PageRank algorithm to measure the 'importance' of a site, which is added to its search index.
Search engines use so-called web crawlers. Once they visit your website, they follow each link on the frontpage and add all those pages to the search index. Keep in mind that web crawlers don't 'see' the site. They are not a human being, they do not use a browser to render your page, they simply look at your HTML code. Sometimes the number of possible URLs they find is so high that it becomes difficult for them to follow them all. This often happens with lists of content items with the possibility of filtering the display or those having a page navigation. Endless combinations of parameters are possible and only a few will return unique content.
Once your website is finished, one of the first steps for you is to say "hi" to the robots of your choice and give them more information about your site. Search engines are very interested in knowing about your website because it makes their life easier, too. Try Google Webmaster Tools and the Bing Webmaster Toolbox.
Help your robot
The robot is now visiting your website. It cannot see, it cannot read. You have to help your robot using various methods!
- The robot looks for keywords (words people usually search) in your content, so be aware of that when you write a text. Sometime peoples write content based on recent events on the web to receive a better ranking. Don't write the 455th blog entry about the awesome features of the new iPhone :-). Be careful not to lower the quality of your content through the extensive use of keywords or techniques, like hidden keywords in the same color of the background. The robots are not silly; they simply need a little help.
- The robot also looks at keywords in meta tags. You should also place your keywords there. Joomla! offers options for adding keywords and other meta tags to your content in nearly every edit form.
- One of the main ideas of HTML markup is linking. Use this idea to link to other parts of your website from within your content.
- Other websites could link to your site (backlinks). The more sites link to your site, the better. Links directly to your main page are 'more important' than links to pages within your site (deep links). Avoid paid links and comment links from other sites that have a completely different context from yours!
- URL normalization is used to avoid 'robot confusion'.
Joomla! provides several methods in the SEO Settings (see chapter Website and content configuration) and an Alias field below every title in an edit form for creating an individual path.
It is possible to extend that list as long as you want. The two methods which are technically important are the meta tags and the URLs. Joomla! covers both in a good way, additionally Joomla! provides the redirect component which helps to avoid 404 pages.
My personal view
If you are using a CMS like Joomla! 1.7 and a template like Beez2, your HTML output is technically perfect.
As I already said in the chapter Managing content
A content management system is useful for managing information that provides value for your audience
If you create useful information with value for you audience within your website, be sure, every search engine will notice that.
By the way, ever heard of the Nigritude Ultramarine?