SEO: Must Have Pages & Items
There are a few essential pages/items that every site needs to include in order to be search engine friendly.
I’m not a Lawyer and don’t claim to be one, but these two documents should be standard issue for every site you have.
If you don’t know where to start in generating these documents, you’ll find plenty of help online.
This is not legal advice, and if you need help in this department, consult with a local attorney.
I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve been to that fail to include a way to contact the owner. If you can’t include a phone number, at the very least have an email address or a “contact us” form. By providing this information, you’ll make your visitors feel more comfortable knowing there’s a way to reach you should the need arise.
HTML Site Map
No matter if your site is small or large, you’ll also want to include what is called a “sitemap”. A sitemap sounds technical, but it’s just one Web page that contains links to every page of your site, usually broken down by category.
While Google is the only Search Engine that uses this, it helps Google crawl your site.
Google Analytics/Tracking System:
Once your site is up and running you’ll want to keep your eye on traffic. Who’s visiting your website, what pages are the most popular, where is the traffic coming from. There are several ways to add a thorough tracking system to your site, but the easiest and one that won’t cost you a dime is Google Analytics. Once registered, you can add as many sites as you like all under one user ID and password. You’ll be given some code to copy and paste on your pages. Simple, easy, and you’re done.
Newsletter Sign Up/RSS Feed
There’s an old saying that people won’t buy from you the very first time they come to your Website, so you need a way to stay in touch with them to bring them back again and again. By offering a newsletter, also known as an ezine, you’ll be building a list of possible prospects which is invaluable to any site owner.
You can also offer an RSS feed for your newsletter, or updates to your site. This makes it easy for others to keep up with your most recent posts. The best service for this is FeedBurner
Social Media Share Button:
With the popularity of social media sites such as Squidoo, Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, you’d be foolish not to include an easy way for your content to be shared with others.
You’ll find many free services that will give you the code you need to instantly add a "share button" to your Web pages so that visitors can instantly share them with their friends.
Sounds simple but forgotten by many. All pages should include a copyright notice.
I grouped these two items together as they both instill trust and confidence in your visitors. Remember, when someone comes to your Website, they don’t know who you are and if you’re selling something, they may not feel comfortable giving out their credit card information. To help them feel more “warm and fuzzy”, include trust seals for any organizations you belong to.
Also, if you have testimonials from happy customers, weave them into your site copy. People always love to hear that others have had a happy experience with your products/services. Make sure you get permission first from the testimonial writers before placing them on your Website.
Custom 404 File Not Found Page:
A 404 page is what a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your site (because they’ve clicked on a broken link, the page has been deleted, or they’ve mistyped a URL). A 404 page is called that because in response to a request for a missing page, Web servers send back a HTTP status code of 404 to indicate that a page is not found. While the standard 404 page can vary depending on your ISP, it usually doesn’t provide the user with any useful information, and most users may just surf away from your site.
If you have access to your server, we recommend that you create a custom 404 page. A good custom 404 page will help people find the information they’re looking for, as well as providing other helpful content and encouraging them to explore your site further.
Because a 404 page can also be a standard HTML page, you can customize it any way you want. Here are some suggestions for creating an effective 404 page that can help keep visitors on your site and help them find the information they’re looking for:
- Tell visitors clearly that the page they’re looking for can’t be found. Use language that is friendly and inviting.
- Make sure your 404 page uses the same look and feel (including navigation) as the rest of your site.
- Think about providing a way for users to report a broken link.
- No matter how beautiful and useful your custom 404 page, you probably don’t want it to appear in search results. In order to prevent 404 pages from being indexed by search engines, make sure that your Web server returns an actual 404 HTTP status code when a missing page is requested.