Website Design Advice to a Friend

Website Design Advice to a Friend

Recently, a friend asked me for some thoughts about his website. The conversation drifted from his original question to a list of things that I thought he should do for his site. Since I like to treat the readers of this site as my friends, here’s the conversation.

See how many of them you could implement. There’s a lot of web development jargon and geekiness going on here. I can get a way with that in an email to my friend because he’s an advanced user. If you have any questions at all, let me know in the comments below.

3 Things You Absolutely Must Do for your Website

1) Change those file names from qnode to natural text. Never, ever have a url modifier unless you have to. Too many tools to bring your site down to risk it. Ex. Yoursite.com/qnode?=&34 is not as nice (or as safe, or a search engine efficient) as yoursite.com/article-name-here/

Bonus Before you change the file links, make an excel sheet and chart each old URL to the new one. I can show you how to use .htaccess as a Google re-mapping cheat sheet so everyone going to the old address automatically redirects to the new one. There’s a WP plug in that does this very well and I’d bet Drupal has one, too. If not, I’ve got a post on how to fix broken links with Meta Tags and .htaccess redirects.

2) Change the posting module to allow for RSS readers to see the entire article. Check out your site in Google Reader. Then check out mine. You’ll have a greater audience and more external links if you get this going. This includes images!

3) Get your meta straight. I’m lazy here too, but if you want to dominate, it’s necessary.

A) Title: You have the post title being the actual page title. That works for the most part. For really competitive markets, you might want to re-architect that like I did this weekend.

B) Description: We need a meta description. 1-2 teaser sentences describing the article. Goes a long, long, long way.

C) Image Optimization: You post a ton of images but none of them are optimized. Name the image,
the alt text and image description with the same words you are using in the title, description, etc. Then watch your page views skyrocket through the magic of Google’s Image search.

That was my advice to a friend. All clear?

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