Web Design Vs. SEO – Can’t We All Just Get Along?
It’s a clash of the titans – the artistic, free-thinking web designer and the analytical, rules-orientated search engine optimizer. Admittedly, I’m more of the latter, but I believe you can get an amazing looking site that is also great for SEO. Here’s how to avoid the top 3 problems I’ve encountered when web design and SEO butt heads:
All Looks, No Substance
Ever been on a date with someone beautiful only to find out they had the personality of a wet towel? Chances are, you weren’t impressed. Your website might look amazing, but without textual content search engines aren’t impressed either.
- Make sure your design supports at least 100 words of content on your home page. Home pages have the highest ranking potential but without content, you’re missing the opportunity.
- You’ll need sufficient content to capture each keyword you target. That might mean creating pages of content for particularly competitive keywords. Don’t overdo it – too many pages will be difficult to navigate.
- Avoid replacing text with images – even images containing text as search engines cannot read this. If you must use images for items such as headers or navigation always use a SEO friendly text replacement technique.
- Avoid Flash-based elements or support them with sufficient content. Search engines interpret Flash elements similarly to images.
The Mile-Deep Sock Drawer
You probably keep your favourite socks somewhere near the top of the drawer so you can find them quickly. You wouldn’t dream of burying them near the bottom of the drawer!
The same goes for your most important pages of content. If content is buried deep within your site, search engines will interpret it as being less important. As a rule of thumb, put all pages within 2 clicks of your home page. Here’s how:
- Use a drop-down navigation system to maximize the amount of links in your primary navigation.
- Use both HTML and XML sitemaps. Search engines use these to understand your site’s structure. Add a link to the HTML sitemap in your footer to make it easy to find.
- Inter-link pages where appropriate, especially those deeper sitting pages. Don’t overdo it – consider the user experience.
While excellent results are certainly obtainable for a site that’s already been built, I often wish I had been involved during the design phase to help avoid some of the complications encountered when SEO has been an afterthought.
- Get your search engine optimization team involved early when developing or redesigning your website. They’ll let you know how the proposed site design works from an SEO standpoint.
There’s no reason your site can’t look great and rank well too! By making some simple SEO considerations during the design phase, you can wow your visitors while keeping the search engines happy at the same time.