SEO and Web Design- How well they get along ?
Sometimes, I don’t get along really well with web designers – for the good that is. We contradict more than agreeing on ideas in design concepts, UI, layout planning etc. Designers are very adamant people and they’re really very possessive about their work. We SEO’s are perceived to be people who downgrade their work, and thieves who steal their credits – and it’s true.
Sometimes we really do. After all that hard work with pixels, one fine a day an SEO jumps in, does his “magic tweaks” and the CEO is very happy for the SEO. Yeah just the SEO. So I think designers have all the rights to envy us haha
Anyways, in my opinion the best web designers are the ones who also take into consideration the SEO concepts while they design. It’s not difficult, and if you do that in first place right from the scratch, no SEO is going to rip off your design later.
So here goes my 101 SEO tips to Web Designers
Tip No. 1
- Study and read everything possible about advanced SEO techniques right from the start of your project.
Tip No. 2
- Always keep in mind that designs are cool, but what is equally important is the code that goes behind it.
Tip No. 3
- Always keep the code optimized, check for W3C compliance right from the start.
Tip No. 4
- Follow the basics, titles, meta tags are still important if not ignored, so keep space for them.
Tip No. 5
- Keep a horizontal directory structure, don’t go too deep with them, the search engines likes easy access to any file in the quickest time.
Tip No. 6
- When you name the files and directories, keep it descriptive and simple. Keep away numbers and weird characters.
Tip No. 7
- Images better be optimized for size, and quick loading. If you can’t keep away from loading that fancy graphic, mix it with the page elements. Don’t make them look blunt.
Tip No. 8
- Make room for a lot of text. As you already know, search engines love text, lot of them.
Tip No. 9
- Flash files are cool. And Search engines have found better ways to crawl and index them unlike old times, but that doesn’t mean you can use them extensively blocking access to relevant text info. So if you are keen on using flash, keep alternate text versions ready.
Tip No. 10
- If you have dynamic content, make sure you keep it simple and split to parts. Also, make sure you have optimized static pages for your primary keywords.
Tip No. 11
- Always do a bit of competition analysis. See what your competition is, if they have a minimalistic design you don’t want to have a flash design, and leaving no room for improvement. Stalk your competition.
Tip No. 12
- Many web designers make the mistake of using a template through out the site and many a times this includes repeating the same title or similar page titles all over the site. Get over this, use descriptive page titles everywhere possible.
Tip No. 13
- Keep the page titles to 65 characters or less in count. Nothing wrong is going over it, but you could avoid a spill over.
Tip No. 14
- The meta descriptions are supposed to be mini ad-copies that should be descriptive of what the page is about. Don’t keep them the same for all pages.
Tip No. 15
Tip No. 16
- Use CSS based navigation if you want fancy effects. Pretty much all of the javasript stuff can be done on CSS, in a more search engines friendly way.
Tip No. 17
- Use the header tags effectively. Don’t limit yourself with H1 and H2. Use H3, H4 and beyond and use it wisely on the page.
Tip No. 18
- Use strong tags wisely. Don’t let them stand out like bolded text, within the content, style it down to show up as normal text within the content.
Tip No. 19
- Use the footer effectively. Of course, you can use it for all your TOS/Legal stuff, but also use it to link to the important pages on your site. It helps.
Tip No. 20
- Identify the most important pages on your site as seen by the search engines, and leverage them to promote other resource pages.
Tip No. 21
- Link well internally, and use descriptive anchor text instead of “click here” and “check this out” like phrases.
Tip No. 22
- Use al tags, Title tags on images and use descriptive filenames. They help search engines find more information about them.
Tip No. 23
- Use a SEO friendly layout, at least one that does not block or hinder the crawling of crucial areas on your site.
Tip No. 24
- Find out the important areas on your website, like the content rich area in the center and keep them above the fold. Not only helps the engines but the user as well.
Tip No. 25
- When designing dynamic pages, try to stick to pages with descriptive URLs and not the one with session ids and other parameters. Google can still get it’s head around them, but its good if you can stick to SE friendly, descriptive ones.
Tip No. 26
- When dealing with CMS’s there might be instances where you have to keep the page URL the default way with the extra parameters. Use URL rewrite mod to re write the most important pages URL’s to SE friendly form.
Tip No. 27
- When using AJAX, load the modules in parts split across pages and not in one single page. Although this defeats the purpose of using AJAX in the first place, you might be able to provide more information to the search engines using other on site SEO parameters.
Tip No. 28
- If you want to block any particular area on your site from the reach of Google spiders, use either Robots.txt commands, or else set up a login access. This is the safest way to block crawlers from spidering vital information.
Tip No. 29
- Keep the meta descriptions descriptive and precise to about 150 characters.
- Use an SEO simulator to test your design through out the process. And make sure no part of the design blocks/hinders any part of information being accessible to the search engines.
So essentially, web designers got to ensure that while their designs are unique and eye-catchy, making sure that there is enough information available in the form of text is always recommended, and leveraging this information by using all the possible SEO metrics in a healthy and balanced way to cater to the search engines is the right way of designing a search engine friendly web design.
Having said that, please remember that there is no right and wrong way of doing things. You got to understand your requirements, your resources and make a tailor made strategy that works for your niche. And that’s what is really important.