It’s common for many people, even professional web designers, to forget search engine optimization when it comes to website design. Many people still associate SEO with factors like backlink building, keyword use in content and Meta tags. However, the reality is that how a website is designed can also have a considerable impact on its on-site optimization quality. There are a number of factors that go into SEO friendly design. We’ll go over several of them; those that are most important.
By implementing the following website design details, a programmer or DIY site designer can make it much easier for Google to find their web page, index it far more easily and thoroughly, and improve the domains page-rank considerably.
The Important Components of SEO-friendly Design
Page Loading Time
The first thing that a visitor to your website is going to notice is how long the page takes to load. You want this to be quick because if it isn’t, many visitors won’t wait around to see what else you’re offering, especially if the competition in your niche is stiff. Your page should be designed to load in no more than a few seconds if possible.
As a basic step towards faster load time, the website should be hosted through a provider with globally designated servers. Additional steps you or your web designer should take to improve page load time include:
* Keeping your code clean and compact by removing unused or unwanted code and removing white space where possible.
* Avoiding Flash based landing pages or landing pages with video.
* Keeping image size to a minimum; software like Adobe Fireworks can do a good job of resizing image files.
Well Planned Site Navigation
A website that is well organized not only makes human navigation easier, it also gets indexed and ranked faster because search spiders find the pages more easily. Your website can be designed for faster navigation by a combination of thoroughly interconnected internal links and by avoiding flash based navigation items.
Create an internal link structure that connects as many of your pages together as possible in an organized hierarchy that doesn’t leave a number of pages hidden away from easy click-through. Do this through links inside the content itself and through a series of menus on each page if possible. Also, use link text that clearly labels the pages it links to. If a page you want to link to is about “buying shoes,” try to label the link in the same way on another page – but don’t use the exact same anchor text on all your internal links, since this can be considered SEO spam.
Avoid Flash and Image Based Content in Favor of Text
As a further expansion on the above navigation points, as much of your website as possible should be text based. This includes your header images and any places where you might be tempted to use text that’s inside an image. If you insist on having images with text inside them on your website, then use a CSS based image replacement technique like FIR (Fahrner Image Replacement) to ensure that there is still searchable text behind images for machines and spiders that can’t read pictures. As for Flash, try to avoid it where possible.
Use W3C Compatible Code
Make your website code as compatible with Worldwide Web Consortium standards as you can for better compatibility with search spiders, cleaner presentation and more semantic markup. The W3C offers tools for code compatibility validation through their website at http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ and http://validator.w3.org/. These are free to use and guaranteed to help improve your design SEO.
Include Site Maps
Sitemap applications are built specifically for the purpose of telling a search engine where all your pages are. This makes them very helpful for full site indexing. Install at least one or two sitemaps on your website and be particularly sure to do this if you are building or own a larger ecommerce web store with hundreds of pages. Some good sitemap choices are RSS Feed, XML or URL List. Links to your sitemaps should also be added in the footers of every page on your website. This will further help the search spiders in their indexing efforts.
SEO Friendly URL’s and Image Attributes
If your website has numerous pages on different subjects, then make sure that their URL text is search friendly by including the page titles or select keywords in it instead of random characters. For example: a URL like www.mysite.com/tips/item2?=23094 should be changed into something like www.mysite.com/tips/how-to-clean-floors. The latter is far more search friendly.
The same applies to images stored on your website. Google can’t index pictures (as we’ve already mentioned) but it can index the text attributes given to them. Thus, since many people use image search these days, all images on your web site should have their own descriptive image attributes – instead of “img545634.jpg as an attribute, use words that fit whatever the picture displays.
Create Pages with Unique, Keyword Rich Meta Data
It’s easy to forget about Meta data and use the same placeholder data across several website pages. This is a mistake. Instead place unique, well crafted, concise and keyword rich (but not keyword stuffed) Meta descriptions for each major page of your website.
About the author: Mary Walters is an accomplished writer with many years under her belt covering the technology and marketing industries. When she’s not covering facebook promotions management, she’s busy sharpening her softball skills on the diamond.