Rule Three: Clean Code is Searchable Code
Build your sites in a text editor, and write clean, human-readable HTML. The HTML should follow the conceptual structure of the page, navigation first, followed by the H1 tag, then the first paragraph, etc. Try to use descriptive tags when possible. Use UL for lists, P for paragraphs, H tags for heads and subheads, and STRONG for bolded text. Don’t overuse Divs. Your site can still be artistic and cool, that’s what CSS is for.
Rule Four: The Home Page is the Most Important Page
Your home page is the key to your site being found by search engines. It should summarize the rest of the site, and give a clear, compelling reason for a user to look at the other pages in the site.
Rule Five: Links Have Meaning
Search engines pay a lot of attention to the links on your site, and the words used in those links. Never use “click here” or “see more” for a link. The link text should describe where the link will take the user, such as “more examples of CSS web design” or “learn how we can improve your SEO.”
The more relevant the links on a page, the more findable the page becomes. Don’t go overboard, and don’t link to anything irrelevant. If your page is focused on minimalist web design, a link to the Design MeltDown page on minimalism will boost your SEO. A link to a hilarious picture of a cat will not.
Rule Six: Title Tags for the Win
Every page in your site should have a title with the site name and a short description of the page. About 60 letters total. Include a keyword. Remember that the page title is what appears in search results, it should give users a clear reason to click on it.
Your navigation links should have title attributes that match the titles of your pages. This looks like . It’s a small thing, but it will give you a significant SEO improvement.
Rule Seven: Don't Re-Use Your Title Tag On Every Page
Many times your website designer doesn't even realize this is being done. Your creative team is more concerned with the visual presentation than to worry about something they consider more of a minor 'nuisance".
Most of the time, your website has been created from a template, which ensures that everything looks the same -design wise- from one page to another. This is perfect to get the site off the ground and out there. Most WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors work this way as well, templates allow for easy production of web pages.
The drawback to this from an SEO perspective is that the Title and Meta tags are all repeated. To get your website off on the right foot, change each page's title tag to reflect what the page is about. You'll be surprised at the good this can do for each of your web site's pages.
Rule Eight: Alt Tags Matter
Every image on your site should have an alt tag. Especially images that are relevant to the page. If your page is focused on CSS tricks, labelling a screenshot “example of rounded CSS corners” will improve your page’s findability. Labelling it “screenshot” or “image” will do the opposite.
Rule Nine: Ignore Most Meta Tags
A long time ago meta tags were the secret to SEO. Those days are gone. The only meta tag that really matters now is the description tag. Search engines may use it to provide the text under the link to your page in their results. Make sure it describes the page in a way that explains why a user searching for your content would want to look at your page.
Rule Ten: Don't Use Keywords In Images
Your designer might yell at you, question your judgment, or complain that it will ruin the aesthetics of the design, but let me put it to you this way; "What good is a great design if no one can find it?"
If your keywords are embedded in images, the search engines have no clue that keyword is related to your page. They cannot "see" your images. So if the term "camel rides" is important to your business, make sure it's actual text somewhere within your content, not part of an image.
Rule Eleven: Have a Site Map
Make sure you have a site map. This is an xml file that describes the structure of your page. Make one, and give it to Google.
Rule Twelve: Check Your Robots.txt File
For the proper syntax of how to configure a Robots.txt file, check out: Robotstxt.org.
Rule Thirteen: Design for Humans
Search engines are designed to find what humans want. That means the best way to make your site findable is to design it for humans. Your job as a designer is to solve a problem, not make art, prove a point, serve your ego or break a boundry. In this case, your problem is to provide your users with a site that is easy to use and full of what they’re looking for. If you can do that, the search engines will find you.