SEO Web Design
What do you mean by SEO Web Design asked a new client of mine?
I had just been reviewing her site and noticed that the company who had previously designed it and it has to said, had created a visually eye-catching website, had however made some basic errors in their haste to please her.
To start from the beginning she had contacted me after she had come across one of my articles. It’s funny how life works though because, that in itself would not have prompted her to get in touch, but a friend of hers who I had been doing some SEO work for had got in touch with her after about 6 years.
And of course they got to discussing life and work etc; and to cut a long story short her friend recommended that she get in touch with me.
Now her frustration was that she should have had every ingredient for success. Her site was in a relatively niche market, competition wasn’t that high and yet after paying out a sizeable chunk of money on getting her website professionally designed, her site was nowhere to be found on Google.
So what could possibly be going wrong?
A Brief Background
There is an old saying in Internet Marketing that good designers make bad SEO experts. Why? You may well ask.
A lot of them have been in the forefront of the web design industry leading the way in site design and architecture but therein lies the root problem of the story.
The online marketing industry moves at a frenetic pace. What was once a ‘de facto’ standard is now old hat and consigned to ‘wheely’ bin of Internet marketing.
Faced with the constant flux of new ideas and innovations, a good designer already inundated with back orders has little choice but to concentrate on pleasing the clients’ esoteric eye.
He/she may have picked up a few SEO tidbits along the way either in meeting rooms or from beleaguered colleagues rushing from one project to the next but very seldom do you come across a good designer who knows and understands the impact of SEO upon web design.
This is not meant to be a criticism nor is meant to decry the genuine efforts of the design community at large but merely to point out that it is quite difficult to serve two very demanding masters at the same time.
There are sadly many who miss the point altogether, tearing their proverbial hair out when faced with their client’s low keyword ranking despair and frustration.
The backdrop to this that millions of ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs join the Internet juggernaut on a daily basis in search of financial freedom. These aspiring businessmen and women are usually at their most vulnerable when first starting out.
Excited and eager to get started, they overlook the basic principles of marketing and are often taken in by smooth-talking salesmen flashing dollar signs in front their imaginative eyes.
“Get a website! You need a website! You must have a website! Put up a few pages and hey presto before you know it you will be the envy of all your friends and neighbours!” seems to be the common thread.
Getting back to my client, she looked at me fairly blankly when I said that SEO web design meant that the design of a website had more to do with following certain guidelines than how good it looked to her.
“But I thought that if a site was well designed that people would like it and buy from it” she exclaimed almost daring me to disagree with her.
Yes, I answered disarmingly and gently proceeded to point out that without visitors having a great looking website wouldn’t be doing her any favours at all.
SEO Web Design – The Basics
Which brings me neatly to the crux of this article i.e. SEO web design. So, let’s take a look at a simple layout in the first instance.
Say you have a header/logo at the top of the page followed by some descriptive text that says “Welcome to my web…., followed by some pictures and the left hand side contains a column with some navigation links in it etc, etc;
Now search engines like Google scan a web page from left to right beginning at the very top. And as in our example above since most websites have a left hand column containing navigation links, Google will automatically view the content of the links column before it gets to the body of your page.
There are simple methods to counter this and force Google to read your main body content first and this why it is very important to get SEO Web Design at the very start of the design phase.
Then there’s another critical factor that determines the ranking of your web pages and that is targeting the wrong keyword. Get that wrong initially and you can almost kiss goodbye to getting decent rankings.
Now how many designers know just these basic facts?
My client had started to see the picture. In her eagerness to get her business going she had gone to the first person that she had come across.
The company had a good portfolio of sites and more importantly for her the cost was roughly near the budget that she was looking for and so without further thought she decided to go for it.
2 years down the road and with just a handful of sales, she was very close to quitting.
Her dreams had given way to despair and far from being the envy of her friends and neighbors, she had even reached the point of not looking at nor caring about her site anymore.
The question is, was she too late to do anything about it?