Design Vs SEO Can My Site Look Good And Rank Well

Design Vs SEO Can My Site Look Good And Rank Well

Do you​ have to​ sacrifice all of​ the​ creative and artistic elements of​ your web site to​ rank in​ the​ search engines? Later in​ this article I’ll show you​ a​ real case scenario and the​ design and SEO approach used.

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​ are correctly understanding 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.

Construction 101- Attractive Design and SEO

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​ wont 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.

SEO usually means REDO

In the​ previous pumpkin example,​ CSS will eliminate the​ need for almost any extra code at​ all,​ and provide the​ means to​ place the​ text to​ the​ right of​ the​ photo.

Now,​ imagine that someone had already created this page,​ but done so using other programming methods. the​ page could very well be W3C compliant,​ well programmed and got the​ job done. However,​ without designing and programming for optimization as​ in​ the​ above illustration,​ the​ end result would have no significant rank compared to​ others that do.

You can be sure that there exist at​ least 30 web sites built to​ rank for the​ keywords “pumpkin bread recipe”. Note- why did I use the​ number 30? It’s safe to​ assume if​ you’re not on​ the​ first three results pages of​ a​ search,​ you’re not being seen.

While this is​ a​ simple example,​ hopefully you​ understand that it​ would be impossible to​ optimize this simple page without redoing it. This isn’t always the​ case,​ but extrapolate this into detailed,​ multiple pages in​ an​ entire website and the​ issue is​ greatly magnified.

Aesthetic Importance vs. Traffic

Everyone has an​ idea of​ what they want their site to​ look like. the​ pretty factor- splash pages,​ cool flash and graphics must now be justified as​ to​ their importance to​ the​ bottom line. if​ you​ want/need to​ establish an​ online presence,​ you​ will have to​ make some compromises in​ these areas.

Understand exactly the​ role your site should play in​ your company marketing.

Ask- What is​ the​ goal of​ your website and who is​ its audience? is​ it​ for existing clients to​ see? is​ it​ to​ reach new clients? to​ venture into yet untapped market segments?

Ask- How strongly do your other marketing efforts promote your site?

Ask- is​ your website an​ extension of​ your existing collateral that must reflect the​ same graphical look?

Ask- is​ your website meant to​ assist to​ your sales force or​ is​ it​ your sales force?

Chances are you​ wont have any single answers. That’s ok. it​ will give you​ some meat for your designer/SEO to​ digest and develop a​ solution for you.

Real case of​ Design balanced with SEO and salability

If you​ sell jewelry solely online,​ you​ must have a​ catalog of​ exceptional photography and detailed,​ high-resolution close up images. But,​ you​ must be optimized and rank well if​ you​ want to​ sell any of​ that jewelry.

If such a​ company approached me with this project,​ my recommendation would be this: if​ you​ sell a​ product,​ people have to​ see that product. Lots of​ good images. the​ site should be slick and sheik and easy to​ navigate. the​ home page has to​ capture the​ buyer’s attention. if​ it’s very expensive jewelry,​ the​ site should have a​ lot of​ class and elegance. if​ it’s home made jewelry,​ the​ site shouldn’t look home made.

However,​ as​ you​ have no store front,​ if​ the​ online community can’t find you,​ you’re business will fail. So I’d have a​ very optimized home page with some discussion of​ the​ quality of​ your product,​ the​ history of​ your company,​ etc. This is​ also great sales copy. Ad a​ few special catalog pieces with descriptions below some smartly placed gifs,​ jpegs and readable type graphics built out of​ CSS and you’ve got a​ cool to​ look at,​ content rich,​ well optimized layout.

I’d make the​ link to​ your catalog very obvious and prominent. Note the​ catalog is​ not the​ homepage. I’d also include subsequent well written,​ in​ depth pages about the​ history of​ some specific pieces. Load them with targeted keywords and a​ few images. Again,​ make your catalog link very prominent. in​ doing so you’re creating relevant content for search engines AND providing additional pages that can rank.

The catalog can be database driven,​ simple and changeable,​ and you​ have the​ foundation to​ build your search rank.

Planning Your Site

If your designer is​ not a​ search engine optimizer,​ hire one to​ work with your designer from the​ initial development stage of​ your site. if​ you​ would like a​ visible presence that is​ not dependant on​ traditional marketing efforts to​ get your name around,​ then you​ will have to​ optimize.

However,​ with advances in​ html and css,​ text itself can be a​ very flexible and attractive design element with endless possibilities. Site optimization consists of​ some rigid,​ unbendable rules. it​ can be intertwined successfully with very creative and attractive design. if​ your Designer and SEO aren’t the​ same person or​ company,​ make sure they have the​ same,​ close working relationship.

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