In today’s post I am going to tell you how the design of your website can affect your site’s search engine optimization. It is important that you understand that you can make your website invisible to search engines or drop your search engine rankings if you get the design process wrong.
Here is how to optimize the design of your website:
- Plan to have plenty of text – I know I have mentioned this in a number of previous posts but it is crucial to the success of your website. If you don’t have enough text you won’t be able to include enough keywords or worse appear to the search engines that you are ‘keyword stuffing’ and seriously damage your ranking. There is also the danger that you don’t include certain keywords that prospects use to find the type of product or service you are offering – which means you won’t rank at all for that search.
- Always put your most important content at the top of the page – When you are surfing the net, choosing a book or magazine I bet you can read the content quickly to see if what you are looking at is of interest. Most people adopt the same tactic and will quickly scan a page from top to bottom to check relevance therefore make sure you put your most important content in the initial few paragraphs and use a quality “punchy” heading. Break up your text using subheadings and bullet points too where relevant. The search engines will also scan the content at the top of the page first and will use this to assess what your page is about. Content lower down the page may not even get noted.
- Don’t overuse images, flash and video’s – I’m not saying don’t use them; just limit their use to complement quality content. The search bots can’t read this type of media and will ignore it. However you can use a descriptive ALT tag to help a search bot understand the relevance of the image or video. Don’t stuff your Alt Tag description with keywords; simply describe the image as you see it. An ALT tag is also useful to those who can’t see images and the blind will often have software that reads a page out loud so keeping the description natural will make sense to them. Whilst images and videos don’t help with SEO if you make them shareable you could strike “viral gold” and drive significant traffic to your site from social media shares.
- Maximize your SEO efforts on every page – not every visitor to your website is going to land on your home page nor would you want them to, it is far better for them to land on a page that addresses their search query quickly without the need for them to search within your site. So with this in mind have a plan for what you want to achieve on each page, what type of visitor you want to attract, envisage their information needs and decide what action you want to encourage them to take when they land on it. If you do this well you should significantly increase the variety of keywords and phrases that your site ranks for, improve the probability of matching the search requirements of your visitors and therefore convert more visits into sales.
Also check out how: How to build traffic to your website
- Organize your site effectively – include your keywords in your file and folder names. Name your site pages with your keywords too. Make sure the structure of your website is not complex and avoid having a deep hierarchy of folders and directory levels. Keep your hierarchy as flat as can be as it makes your site much easier to navigate.
- Avoid having duplicate content in your site as it can be seen as spamming by the search engines. If you are selling multiple product variations introduce a dynamic drill-down navigation tool like what you would have on Amazon for customers to filter the product options to match their requirements. An example can be seen in the left-hand content sidebar in the screenshot below.
- Test – before you go live and during the lifetime of your website continually test it. There are various tools that you can use to do this. I often use Google and Bing’s Webmaster tools to make sure my site is being crawled and that there are no crawl errors. Familiarise yourself with both of these tools, they aren’t difficult to use and can be useful to highlight areas for improvement.