Optimization strategies involve more than just incorporating keywords inside the content or building links. Google’s algorithm includes more than 300 different factors. It may difficult to imagine that the design and layout of a website can affect its ranking but it does. The website’s structure and how it functions can affect the user’s experience on the site. From a search engine’s standpoint, the connection between the different web pages can affect the spiders’ ability to crawl through the website.
As such, how the website is designed can influence how it ranks on search results. Web designers need to know and understand basic SEO to get a better idea on what design elements would or would not work well on the website.
Aspects of SEO new web designers should be familiar with
- Masthead size
One of the first aspects that a person sees when arriving on a page is the masthead. The masthead can either be a flag or banner indicating the name of the website or the title of a particular section of the website. A lot of designers tend to abuse this section by designing massive mastheads. As it is an element that does not produce any revenue, restrict the masthead to 100 pixels at the most.
- Flashy menus or effects
Breadcrumbs can be useful for a number of reasons. One is that it helps users identify where they are in the website’s structure. In terms of SEO, keywords can also be integrated inside the breadcrumb, helping the page rank better on results. As much as possible, create breadcrumbs that include links. The title should reflect or be similar to the page’s title.
SEO factors to consider
- Conduct keyword research
Knowing what keywords to rank for is a key factor in optimizing web pages. Neglecting to do this part correctly will make it difficult for your page to appear on search results. When conducting a keyword research, you need to look for keywords that are relevant to your topic or industry. Try to diversify your selection by using long tails and alternative terms. If you are targeting a local market, you should incorporate locations as part of your keywords.
- Optimize the page
There are several areas on the web page which can be optimized for search engines. Other than including the keywords on the content itself, you can incorporate them in the title, the headings and the image’s ALT tags.
- Link building
Link building involves boosting the number of links that goes to a specific web page. You can use a combination of backlinks and internal links to help boost your page’s rankings for particular keywords. For internal links, you can connect pages together by including links to posts that contain additional information on a particular subject. Guest blogging and leaving comments on related blogs are still effective methods for acquiring backlinks. These involve researching about other blogs within the same niche and providing useful content on these blogs in the form of a guest post or a comment.
Tips and Recommendations
- Do not use Flash
Flash allows designers to create websites that are visually pleasing to visitors. However, use of Flash comes with a heavy price. Search engines, for one, are unable to read the content and determine its value to readers. Integrating any Flash components does nothing for optimizing the website. In some cases, it can also bog down the website, causing the page to load more slowly. In addition, Apple products such as the iPad and iPhone cannot view Flash elements. As such, this limits the range and reach of the website.
- Use descriptive URLs
Always try to make the URL name reflect the content of the page. For example, if you are selling alphabet-shaped biscuits, you can name it as www.domain.com/products/alphabet-biscuits instead of www.domain.com/products/item#512. A more descriptive URL gives visitors an idea on what the page is about. For search engines, the descriptive words in the URL can help the page rank.
- Keep page sizes down
A web page filled with different types of content can attract more visitors. However, use of non-text content such as podcasts, images and videos can make loading times last longer. Designers will need to strike a balance between the two elements to provide an interesting page that appeals to readers yet loads quickly. In the case of images, you can use thumbnails with links to full size images or reduce the size of the image before uploading to the website.