Web Design and SEO: The Basics

Posted on December 13, 2012 by Jeriann Watkins

If you are a site owner, designer, or manager, it is imperative that you incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) into your website design. This will make it more likely that you will be found when people search for keywords pertaining to your site. While SEO is a technical field with a lot of little quirks and details, there are a few ways you can improve the SEO of your site simply by avoiding common web design errors.

SEO and web design

It is often stated that content is king. It is assumed that if you have quality content, you will be safe from any algorithms search engines develop to battle black-hat SEO. What is often downplayed is that content quality is not only determined by the information, but how it is presented. A clean, straightforward site will reap the benefits of being more easily located and being utilized multiple times. If you keep your users in mind, chances are that the search engine bots will be more easily able to determine the usefulness and relevance of your site.

While it has been proposed that SEO is what happens before people click to go to your site and usability is what happens at your site, by improving user experience, you can also improve the SEO. Here are common practices that can be remedied in order to improve site quality.

Duplicate Content

By now, most people are aware that search engines look down upon duplicate content. Even when given the proper attributes so as to avoid plagiarism, articles posted on multiple sites will not bear many benefits for you. What some people don’t realize is that this applies to your own site as well. That’s right, posting the same content on multiple pages of your site can cost you.

It is important to have unique information on every page of your site. If you want to refer to something on another page, either re-phrase or link to it. This will not only benefit you as far as search engines go, but it will make your site less redundant and more appealing to viewers as well.

Also Read:

Tricks to Play with SEO

SEO 101: Search Engine Ranking Factors

Information through Graphics

What is Infographic? This section will give you some idea.

As a site designer, you know the importance of graphics. Websites need to look appealing, and words can get a bit dull. However, when you relay information through pictures and flash, search engine bots can’t read that. Now you have a lot of content that is not searchable. That is not very useful, is it?

There are a few ways to combat this. The first is to use graphics as purely “extras” or decorative features. You still don’t want to overwhelm the user with effects, as those can be distracting from your message. Finding the right balance between text and images can be difficult, but it is definitely instrumental in making a useable, SEO-friendly website.

The second option is to put information in both text and graphic form. This could engrain knowledge deeper into people’s minds, or it could become redundant.

You can also embed information into graphics so that bots can read it, but be careful with this, as it could be portrayed as you trying to “hide” keywords, which search engines not only look down upon, but dole out penalties for.

Whatever you choose, it is best to be aware of how you use graphics and whether the information on your site is searchable.

Complicated URLs

A URL may not seem to be a noticeable or important aspect of a website, but it is. The clearer your URLs are, the more user-friendly they become. For your individual pages, be sure to have the title of the page (which should be a keyword) after the backslashes instead of randomly-generated numbers and letters. This makes it easier for people and search engines alike to find your pages.

Unvaried/Irrelevant Anchor Text

Anchor text is the visible text that is over a hyperlink. It is the reason that we can have links behind regular words instead of always having messy URLs cluttering out webpages. Anchor text is also a valuable SEO tool. It is great to be able to make a hyperlink appear however you want. This can also make things easier for your customers to find specific information.

Since anchor text is such a great asset, you should utilize it to the best of your ability. By using vague anchor text such as “click here” or “more information” you are wasting a great opportunity. Instead, use keywords specific to the page you are linking to. Be sure to use a variety of keywords, as search engines get suspicious of pages that are always linked to the same way. Variety is natural, and natural links are golden links. So switch things up.

This is also relevant to off-site SEO. When you link to your site on other pages, use different keywords that are relevant to the page you are linking from. This makes a more natural link.

Too much HTML

By filling your site up with pointless html script, you cause your pages to load more slowly. This is not only bad for people viewing your site, but also for your SEO. In 2010, Matt Cutts announced that Google was considering site speed in their analysis of websites. This means that using simpler html and taking other measures to improve your site’s loading speed will be beneficial to your search rankings. You can find a lot of low-impact ways to implement effects and stylistic attributes to your site.

By putting these changes into effect, you can make your site easier to use and easier to find. All of these suggestions affect more than just your site’s SEO. They make your site more intuitive, which will even make your job easier in the long run as you go to make changes and keep your site updated.

This article has focused on on-site SEO. There are a lot of things to do off-site that will also improve your SEO, but having a well-designed site is a great start. Being familiar with SEO terms and metrics will help you to stay alert and be mindful when you are making changes to your site. It is important to remember that technology is not static. Search engines are forever evolving, and so must you. A site’s design is never complete. Be sure you stay aware of both on and off-site SEO methods as they change, so that you are knowledgeable of any changes in search engine algorithms that may affect you.

About Jeriann Watkins

Jeriann Watkins is a writer living in Boise, Idaho. She enjoys writing about many subjects, including white-hat SEO and new advances in internet technology. She currently works for Page One Power, a relevancy first link building focused company.

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