Jonathan Hochman wrote a very good checklist on Search Engine Land about 12 ways to write search engine friendly code. Some of the tips he outlines are:
- Don't repeat yourself -- use SSIs and other code snippets instead of being redundant.
- Run your code through a validator to ensure that things are being kept clean.
- Keep your site's meta description brief (1-2 sentences)
...and so on. His points are very true for any website designer and Sphinn members are quick to agree. One issue of contention, though, is how to outline the title tags of pages. Jonathan recommends "company name - page name" but another person points out that it may be better to write "page name - subcategory name - category name - company name." It all depends on what you want to accomplish, though.
Jill Whalen mentions in the discussion that it won't help rankings. That, too, may be true, but we all know to design websites for people and not for search engines anyway. :) A happily-coded website is one that gets more links which in turn translates into better rankings.
A very long and useful ongoing discussion continues at Sphinn.