From The Ground Up: Building Strong SEO Performance Into Your Site's Code You have probably heard of search engine optimization (SEO), the process of improving your site's ranking on the search engine results pages. You may already be doing it for your own site. However, you should consider another area to optimize besides your content and your external links: the raw code your website is built on. The reason that it's worth the effort to tweak your code for optimal search engine performance is that the spider programs that index your site read the entire site. They make little distinction between the content that visitors see and the raw HTML that they do not. If you include SEO keywords in your code, they can be just as effective (or even more so) as they would be in the visible content. The first thing to keep in mind is that, although you are working "behind the scenes" when you put keywords into your code, you still need to exercise the same kind of restraint that you would when adding keywords to content. Keyword density is still an issue, and search engine spiders are far too smart these days to think that tags stuffed with hundreds of repeated keywords make a website worthy of a high ranking. Although you want to sprinkle keywords throughout your HTML tags, make sure that the results are still logical and sensible. The "meta" tag is one that deserves special mention. There was a time when this tag was the philosopher's stone of SEO. It could be packed with loads of keywords, exactly as described above, and produce a dramatic boost in results page rankings. It did not take the search engines long to strike back, and soon the contents of the meta tag was heavily discounted. Today, though, the meta tag has some important uses. The major search engines read the meta tag to produce the small website summary that appears beneath some search results. The meta tag can also be used to direct search engine spiders to ignore a page during the indexing process, which is sometimes to your advantage. You can steer them away from reference pages featuring duplicate content or repetitive links, for example. You need to make sure that the code and structure of your website are as friendly as possible to the spiders that will index it. Although they can be fiendishly clever about detecting unscrupulous attempts to inflate your page rank, they can also be easily flummoxed by very minor errors in your HTML. If they have trouble accessing a portion of your site, they will simply skip over it. This can have disastrous results if the portion contained plenty of relevant keywords. In order to avoid this, you can use HTML validation skipped tools to clean up your code and make it easy to navigate. It is also a good idea to include a sitemap. This will point the spiders in the right direction and make sure they reach all of your pages. As you can see, SEO is a process that you can apply at every level of your website, right down to its HTML. Do not be afraid of expanding your skill set and cultivating the talent you need to make your code more search engine friendly. It can have powerful results, and it's well worth the time it takes to learn.