SEO Friendly Design

Without a web designer, for many, websites aren’t possible. Meanwhile SEO, for some web designers, is a “whole different beast”. In their defense, there are many web designers experienced in SEO. However, most are focused on the design of the site. They’re not concerned about rankings. You’ll get what you pay for when it comes to a designer, but don’t have great expectations about ranking well on search engines.

If you’re undertaking the optimisation yourself, you probably don’t care much about your designer’s SEO skills. However, there are design failings that can affect your rankings. Trouble is that quick fix tricks won’t solve the problem when the site is designed against SEO guidelines.

We’re presuming that you’re an SEO pro when we talk about hiring an SEO-friendly designer. If you’re not, it’s time to check out some tutorials and checklists. You’ll need to know about search engine optimisation before you can choose a SEO-friendly designer, after all.

When choosing your designer, start by looking at their past sites. If these are free from glaring mistakes and rank well, this is a good sign. Afterwards, ask the designer who created the SEO for the sites. In some cases, the client will have done it themselves, thus optimizing the site, and making it rank well.

It’s important to know what to look for in a SEO-friendly designer. Listed below are a number of common web design blunders, and if you recognize any of these issues in your own projects, it may be time to look for a new designer:

1. Your site is all Flash
Flash is artistic and can look very stylish, but its usability depends on how fast it loads in your browser. HTML sites still rank better. If you must use Flash, commissioning an HTML version of your site would be a great idea as well.

2. There are no, or few, internal links
Internal links (backlinks) are important. This doesn’t mean all of the text needs to be hyperlinked, but having only a couple of internal links on a page means missed chances of valuable backlinks to your other work.

3. Using images instead of text as an anchor
It’s true: Using imagery for menu items and other page elements is easy and appeals to those who are visually-minded. In addition, you can never be sure that text will display properly. However, a lack of text could impact your site’s rankings. Think functionality before you think about how pretty your site looks.

4. You have tons of code, and it’s a mess
If you’ve never dealt with HTML, you won’t know the difference between messy and clean code. With excess or messy code, spiders have a rough time including your site in search engines. This is because they can’t see enough to read it properly. Keep it clean and concise.

5. Excessive use of SEO-unfriendly JavaScript
JavaScript is just as unpopular as Flash is to search engines. If it’s not coded the right way, at least parts of your site (if not whole pages) may not be spider-friendly. That automatically means your site won’t be indexed.

6. Sites that are over-optimized
Over-optimized sites could potentially be much worse than under-optimized pages. Attempting to artificially boost the rankings of a site by obsessive use of keywords and similar techniques could easily see you banned from search engines. In addition, if you are found out to be using black hat techniques, you will be blacklisted. No searchability, no visitors.

7. Dynamic, SEO-unfriendly URLs
This depends on what kind of site you have. Dynamic URLs may not be a design issue. Turnkey sites, for example, have everything in place. There’s nothing to configure. The links inside are not created by you. This is where dynamic URLs can be a bad thing. Ask the designer/developer not to use them. Rewriting dynamic and other SEO-unfriendly URLs on your own means no end of site changes and you’ll have wasted a lot of time and money hiring a designer.

Failing to take into consideration some of the points made in this list could result in a lower search engine ranking, and therefore fewer visitors and fewer customers. SEO-friendliness in your design is a major web necessity, so it is important to make the right decisions when looking for a designer.