Search Engine Optimisation – An Essential Part of Web Design
When designing websites, many people focus on the aesthetic qualities of the site, and the code that makes it tick. But there is another factor which must be given at least equal consideration when designing your website – search engine optimisation (SEO).
While SEO is often seen as the realm of online marketers and copywriters, web designers have a crucial role to play in determining how well a site ranks too. Whether you’re designing a new site from scratch or making modifications to an existing one, a decent knowledge of how web design influences SEO, and vice versa, should be at the core of what you do.
Search engine spiders and web design
In order to find the most relevant web content to match users’ queries, search engines such as Google send out their spiders to crawl through and index your content. The actual words on your site are of course the main thing they’re after, but the design of your site should be such that it’s easy for spiders (and your human users) to find what they’re looking for. Here are a few key pointers to help ensure the search engines look upon your site favourably:
Design your navigation intuitively – As well as looking at how relevant your content is to users’ queries, search engines also examine how easy it is to use. Ensure that the structure of your navigation is based on common sense, will be intuitive to users, and that it’s possible to get to any part of your site from any other part.
Don’t use flash – Well at least not for links, menu’s or primary content. Search engines don’t like flash, and many don’t even recognise it. Having a website which is largely based around flash can render it virtually invisible.
Don’t use images for navigation – Search engines are primarily text-based and can’t read images. While a snazzy jpeg or animated gif might look like an attractive button for users to click on, for SEO purposes it scores zero.
Use keywords in anchor text – Rather than generic internal links such as ‘click here’, use words and phrases which are relevant to the content and subject of your site to direct users to other parts of your site
By incorporating SEO methods into every element of your web design, you can help make sure that you’re website doesn’t just look great, it gets found easily too.