The fourth step of how to start an Internet business involves the layout of your site. When organizing it, two audiences must be considered. Obviously, visitors to the site are the first audience. You must also keep in mind the second audience, search engine robots. Both audiences are extremely important and, fortunately, both want the same thing.
Lean, Mean Layout
Your site needs to be clean and quick if you want to be successful. Slow, cluttered sites inevitably fail because visitors and spiders get distracted and leave before taking the action you want. Lets take a closer look.
The layout of your site should allow visitors to quickly find information and solutions. To achieve this, every page should be no more than two clicks from the home page. Have you ever been on a site where you have to hunt to find a particular page? Poor layouts are aggravating and hurt conversion rates.
Make things as easy as possible by interlinking between the site pages. Every page should have links to primary pages and as many other pages as possible. If you look at good site, links to primary pages are listed across the top and bottom of each page. Links to specific services or products are always listed on each page. It may sound like overkill, but make it as easy as possible for your clients to move around.
Search engines use programs called spiders to surf the net and index sites. When a spider finds a page, it reads the code from top to bottom and left to right. If the code is clean, the spider will index the page and follow the links to the other pages of the site.
If the code isn’t clean, spiders stop indexing pages. If pages aren’t indexed, they do not appear in search engine results. What stops spiders? Following are the most common problems:
1. Bottlenecks Make sure each page of your site links to every primary page at a minimum. You do not want a spider to get stuck on a page and miss others.
2. Dynamic Pages Your pages need to be static or carefully designed. If dynamic, spiders often will not index them because they arent sure of the content.
3. Frames Dont use this antiquated design technique.
4. Poor URLs A huge mistake is to put database parameters in the URL. The URL should contain only the domain name and keywords for the page. A good URL reads: http://www.marketingtitan.com/internet_marketing_services. A poor URL with parameters would read: http://www.marketingtitan.com/id#us57486&095783
5. Images Dont overuse images and dont put text in images. Images slow down your site, so make them small and optimized. Robots do not read text inside of images, thus text needs to go outside of the images or ALT tags need to be used.
Evaluating The Layout
Once the site is designed, TEST IT! Surf the pages and see if you are able to flow through the site. Add internal links wherever possible. Finally, test the load times of your site on a 56k dial-up modem. If the site loads in under 20 seconds, you are headed in the correct direction.
Your site layout is important. Make sure it caters to the needs of the visitors, whether human or spider.