Is your “beautiful” and “highly designed” site getting in the way of getting visitors from the search engines? So many people are choosing aesthetics and the techniques used to achieve that “perfect look” over building a site that is optimal for search engine optimization techniques. In the end, they’ll just have a great looking site with no visitors.
This is where that art of good SEO website design comes in. I have to confess I am more of a right-brain thinker and definitely have more design skills than number-crunching abilities. I appreciate a great looking site more than most. However, many people don’t realize there is a way to design a great looking site yet still allow for good indexing by search engines.
Here are a few tips to start with:
Use the full potential of CSS. CSS has come a long way in the past few years. Remember when we would create page titles using our favorite font in Photoshop? With the power of CSS you can make your <h1> titles look just as good and allow for easy indexing by search engines.
Clean and Concise Layout Code. The days of sites riddled with never ending scripting codes, tables for structure, and images are over. Using the power of stylesheets, you can create clean, concise code where you can place the most important items – the page content – near the top and everything else following it no matter the layout.
Make Content Accessible. I’ve long believed that “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” when it comes to web design. I do believe, for example, some spots of FLASH can be compelling and useful in a site. Unfortunately search engines can’t reach a lot of content that is contained inside a FLASH movie. There are a few options out there such as SWF Object where you can put an alternate text version of the content underneath the movie so search engines can index it.
Intelligent Templates. I can’t begin to tell you how many times templates have stood in the way of great SEO techniques in a web site. Using a template with global titles, meta tags, etc. will surely not help you. If using templates, make sure you modify them to allow customization of title, meta, and other relevant tags for each individual page. Google will penalize you for duplicate title tags and meta descriptions.
Building a great looking site that is also structured in a way that allows for search engine optimization creates a situation where everyone wins which will, in turn, translate into more customers and better conversion rates.