Coastal Media Brand

Website Design and Real Text

While humans who visit your site can read all of the content you put there, search engine bots can not. The bots that crawl the pages of your site can read real text, but they can not "see" images of text. When you're setting up your website design and you opt for an image of a word or phrase because you like how it looks, you should know that this is a Search Engine Optimization ("SEO") compromise.

Run a test:

Go to any website and try to left-click and highlight various words and phrases. Look at the navigation buttons and see if you can highlight "About Us" or "Our Services." Try to highlight the descriptions that appear under or adjacent product images. If you can not highlight a word or phrase, what you have is an image of those words. When it comes to optimizing on the Web, site design optimized for both people and search engines should use real text, not images of text.

Images of Words
Search engines want to know what a web page is about, so they crawl it looking for text in the headlines and in the content. Attention is given to words that are used frequently and other words that are similar to them or synonymous with them. Bots look for themes and unique, relevant content. Another thing they look for are the paths that they can take to other pages of the web site. Design that is effective will provide strategically placed paths to guide bots from the HOME page to deeper pages. These paths can only work if they are made of real text. Bots will ignore images.

You can get around this issue in a few ways:

Headline tags – Make sure these are redefined with Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) and not just styled using a class. If this does not make sense to you, ask your designer or someone who might know.

Headline image workaround – If you simply can not give up your image-based headlines, you can use a CSS trick of showing the image as background and putting real text in a hidden headline tag.

Prettier real-text headlines – You do not have to give up nice looking headlines; you can use an attractive font, one proved to provide great readability, and set the spacing a little closer.

In-text navigation words – You can encourage navigation by bots and users by using call-to-action words and phrases within the content on a page. For example, "get the scoop on great value in kitchen gadgets" where "kitchen gadgets" is an anchor link that takes the user to a product page featuring hot sellers in kitchen gadgets.

Themes smart – Search engines are looking for a theme per Web page, so if you have a page with a collection of different themes, break it up into several subpages, with just one theme per page.

If you have this issue, you can find reassurance in the many real-text sites set up for a great user experience and effective search engine optimization. You can also go to Google's Webmaster Central where you'll find all you want to know on setting up a search-friendly website.

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