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How Important is Website Design in SEO

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by Manish Gaur
October 02, 2008


Manish Gaur

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Do you have to sacrifice all of the creative and artistic elements of your web site to rank in the search engines?

Thanks to the birth of professional search engine marketers the top ranks are saturated with the pages of companies that can pay for such insight. That said, it's certainly possible to employ high ranking tactics in your own website. Actually, the most basic tactics can move you up from an 800 position to a 300. However, it's the top of the scale where efforts seem almost inversely exponential or logarithmic, you put a ton in to see a tiny change in rank.

How do you meld the ambitious overhauls required to attain significant ranking and NOT compromise the design of your site?

DESIGN CAN'T BE IGNORED

If you have an existing site, you've probably tied it into your existing promotional content. Even if you've allowed your website to cater to the more free form of the net, it should still be designed as a recognizable extension of your business.

The reasons for doing so are valid, and can't simply be ignored for the sake of achieving a first age position, can they? If your research into search optimization leaves you shuffling around thoughts of content, keyword saturated copy and varying link text, you correctly understand some of the basic pillars of search engine optimization.

And, you aren't alone if you have this disheartening thought-If I do all this SEO stuff and reach number one across the board, who would stay at my site because it's so stale and boring I'm even embarrassed to send people there!

There are two ways to successfully combine design and SEO. The first is to be a blue chip and/or Fortune 500 company with multi million dollar advertising and branding budgets to deliver your website address via television, radio, billboards, PR parties and giveaways with your logo.

Since chances are that's not you, and certainly not me, lets look at the second option. It begins with some research into your market, some thoughtful and creative planning, and a designer who is a search engine optimizer, and understands at least basic CSS and HTML programming techniques. Or a combination of people with these skills that can work very well together.

DESIGN IS FOR BROCHURES, INSTANT RESULTS ARE FOR THE WEB

that’s not the whole truth, but it will help compare and contrast design and SEO. In reality, SEO needs the quantity and detail of supporting text that a brochure has, but good web design has to catch a viewer's attention in 5 seconds. It's pretty difficult to read and absorb the content of an entire brochure in less than 5 seconds.

Search engines need rich, related, appropriate, changing and poignant content. And for them to rank you, all of that must be on your pages. But if it's not well organized and broken down into bite size chunks, no one is going to bother learning about what you're offering.


Sadly, it's very difficult to optimize a site without completely overhauling it. You'll soon understand why. Design and SEO must be strongly rooted into every aspect of each other, possessing a true, symbiotic relationship. Lets look at a simplified example of this. Lets say you are optimizing a page for the keyword phrase, "pumpkin bread recipe."

From a design standpoint "Pumpkin Bread Recipe" would be the heading for the page, in a nice, readable font with the words perhaps an orange-brown color. And lets add a fine, green rule around it.

There are many ways to create that simple, colored heading. However, there is only one way that is best for both design and SEO. That is to use Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS. In addition, that line of code containing "Pumpkin Bread Recipe" needs to be as close to the top of the page as possible (which CSS also allows).

To a viewer, the recipe text might be read more if it were located to the right of a photo of a buttered piece of pumpkin bread on a small plate next to a lightly steaming cup of coffee.

SEO needs to read that ingredient list and baking instructions. Search engines now understand on a rudimentary level that the ingredients are indeed related to the optimized words- pumpkin bread recipe.

Additionally, it would take many extra lines of code to make a table in this example if you didn't use CSS. Search engines don't like extra code. In fact, given enough times, that "extra" code will make the keyword phrases seem less important and hurt rank.

Note: In the page code, a few thousand characters more than you need to get all of that content organized would normally just add to your page load time, and might be acceptable. But to a search engine, that time can really add up. It won’t read through page after page, site after site, billionth after billionth character of unimportant code to find the relevant text. Therefore, the less code, the better your chances. Moral- Less code, more content.

 

         


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