Many web designers think that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not relevant for them and some don't even know what it involves. This article is a must read for those who consider SEO unimportant in web design. It covers a range of topics to understand the role of SEO for web designers; an overview of the common mistakes made when designing sites; and handy hints to help optimize your client’s site so that it can be easily found by search engines.
The Importance of SEO for Web
1. SEO is as much the responsibility of the web designer or developer working on front-end functioning as it is for online marketers.
2. Other than keying in "www.nameofwebsite.com" and backlink referrals, traffic can only locate your site through search engines. Thus websites, which are not search engine friendly will end up loosing visitors that they may not even know off.
3. Since search engines are a significant driver of online traffic to websites, loosing hundreds of visitors everyday implies a greater risk of loosing prospective customers too.
4. SEO is a great value-added benefit, which web designer and developers can leverage to promote themselves amongst their competitors.
An Overview of the Search Engine's Functioning
Search engines like Google and Yahoo both have their own automated program called a "web spider" or "crawler" which crawl the Net. They read, assimilate content, follow both the internal and external links and then deposit these details into the database of search engine, which is called the index.
When users key in their search query, the search engine then finds the closest matching results by comparing the search request to the information in its index.
The efficacy of a search engine is determined by how efficiently it provides you an answer when you key in a search. This depends on the search engine algorithm, which are a set of factors that helps the search engine respond to your question with relevant answers. So depending on your page rank – the higher it is for these factors, then the higher and better your page will get featured in the result pages of the search engines.
The Role of a Web Designer in SEO
As different search engines have their own algorithm in ranking web pages, knowing more about the key factors that impact the algorithm can help influence your search ranking. This is where SEO specialists enter and oversee the two aspects of SEO on-site and off-site.
On-Site SEO: Aspects such as HTML markups, targeted keywords, internal links, site structure, etc. are elements that can be taken care of on the site.
Off-Site SEO: Aspects like the number of backlinks you get and how visitors are linking to your site, are elements that you do not have as much control of.
The main SEO concern for designers and developers is the on-site aspects. Just a word on the side, if you do a great job, designing a great site with informative content, your efforts will be rewarded with off-site backlinks as well as social bookmarks too.
Common Errors Designers and Developers Make
1) Splash Pages are one of the most common bloopers. Very often designers just put big banner images on the homepage with a link "Click to enter." Worse still, the link for "enter" is embedded in the Flash object. This way, the spiders are unable to follow the link.
For those who are not worried about what search engines perceive of their site, this is fine, else it is one big mistake. Your topmost ranking page is probably your homepage and it is frequently crawled by web spiders. The internal pages cannot appear in the index of the search engines without a good internal linking structure which helps the spider to follow it. Also, your homepage must incorporate target keywords as well as links to crucial pages.
2) Flash Menus like fade-in and animated menus look extremely cool but in reality are search engine unfriendly. They are not visible to search engines resulting in which the links within Flash menu do not get followed.
3) Many web designers make the mistake of embedding important content like keywords in Flash and image. However, like text-based browsers, web spiders cannot read text that is embedded in Flash or image.
Re: SEO Guide for Lazy Web Designers
One of the set ups that I see in a lot of companies that works well is that web designers stays only for web design and SEO stays for their purpose. web designs don't do SEO. They have separate teams for websites but both are communicating together to make everything work. You can't just ask the designer or developer to do all SEO aspect of the site, that's why you'd need a specialist for it.