With the clutter of websites within Google's system, an increasing emphasis is needed on both website design and search engine optimization.
In the website world, it is necessary to make your website functional, appealing, and engaging, as well as easy to find. This is where the main tools search engine optimization, and Website design comes into play.
Search engine optimation (SEO) is a rapidly growing sector of the web industry and an essential consideration for any website design. As a major online marketing tool, efficient search engine optimization will drive people to your website and will ensure your website is more visible on major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
To draw a simple analogy, compare your website to a physical shop front. Search engine optimization is the path your visitors and customers will use to find your shop. If this path stands out from all others and cuts through the clutter, your shop has an increased chance of success. Without it, you can still have a strong business through such media as word of mouth, strong external marketing, and repeat customers, but your business won't be operating to full capacity.
There are quite a large number of concerns to be considered for search engine optimization. The main considerations are:
Keyword selection, ensuring these are incorporated into page titles, headings, and throughout the content as well as 'metadata'. Keyword analysis will come from your competitive offerings, and be based on the competition for these keywords. These keywords are what people use to find you.
'Alt tags' used for all images inserted. These are to describe what the image is to search engines, and blind site viewers.
"Query strings" that consist of words, rather than random numbers / letters (e.g. /site/blog/web-design-vs-seo.aspx), instead of www.abc.com/index-2332523.pdsgp.html (a fictitious url)
Effective Web design is the other key ingredient in your business’s online success. While it's great to get people to your shop front door, you need a way to engage visitors to purchase. Using the physical shop analogy, quality web design is similar to having a well-presented storefront. You will need multiple points of engagement, a clear floor plan, engaging staff, and well-displayed products. Once the visitor has entered via the front door, they are enticed to purchase from your business and become repeat customers. This is where effective website design comes into play.
Quality web design will include:
Clear "call to action" messages, strategically positioned within your website,
An engaging look and feel, in line with your business branding objectives - you want your website to stand out from all others, so people are engaged and interested. Just like the dull, drab, and cluttered shop doesn't get a lot of repeats paying customers, a dull, drab website will not engage visitors to buy.
Simple navigation (so the customer can find their way around the shop), much like a clear floor plan.
Your web design must work across multiple browsers. Often, websites are built around a single browser, which your visitors may not be using. There's no point opening a shop, and then telling people they can't come in because you don't like the internet browser they use.
Fast loading - you don't want people having to wait around for your website to open, just like you wouldn't want them to wait around for your shop to open.
The Conflict between Web design and SEO:
Often, the goals of Web design and Search Engine Optimisation will conflict. While Website design generally favors a sparing use of text to make things clear and engaging, Search engine optimization requires the input of multiple keywords throughout the page.
While web design professionals will often use images and movement to tell a story that entices visitors into your products, and services, SEO aims to use words to bring them to your door.
So, what should I focus on?
The short answer to this is both.
To go back to the shop front analogy, what use is the most beautiful shop in the world, with the friendliest staff, and well-structured floor plan, if people can't find their way there? While there is the logic in using word of mouth to spread the news of your shop front based on visitor impressions, you still need to be found in the first place.
On the other hand, what use is it having everyone find you if your store is so derelict that nobody wants to step inside?
When building your business website, choose a web design company that understands how to combine intelligent, appealing, and usable design with search engine friendly frameworks.
Key points to note are:
Begin SEO research at project start. Consider your target market, and how you aim to be found. Use this information to formulate a keyword strategy. There are some great tools available to you for your base research, such as Google’s keyword tool. You need a Google account for it (which is free), and a reasonable amount of time to use it, but you'll get great marketing information from it.
Assess the Visual appeal of the Web design company's previous work. Is it clear what the websites represent, through imagery and website design? Is the website unique, yet intuitive? Your website needs to engage people.
Incorporate "alt tags" into all images on your website. Search engines love them!
Make sure you have a Content Management System for updating your website. Search engines love new and updated content. The newer your content, the higher you will be ranked. It's also a great way to keep your keywords up to date. It will save you money in the long run too. Who wants to have to go back to a designer when you change a price, introduce a new product/service, or have a change in staff? Check that this "content management system" has the ability to add meta-data, easily edit text, and access HTML code where necessary.
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