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5 Web Design Practices that Will Make or Break Your SEO

Search engines are all about relevance.  If you want to rank high on a search engine response page you must create a page that is easily read and indexed.  Your site must be spider and web crawler friendly.  Oh, and it must appeal to your visitors at the same time.

Content is King

Clear, readable and relevant text is crucial to SEO.  Your search engine ranking depends on text the search engine can crawl through to find information they can index.  If your site is image heavy and light on text you have a problem.

Some sites feature home pages with images and graphics but very little content.   This might be interesting to your target visitor, but it’s a bad idea for SEO.  Each page on your site, including the home page, needs unique content that is relevant to your business and communicates your message.

Notice the phrase unique.  Repetitive content is as destructive to SEO as no content at all.  In the world of SEO each page of your site is an entity all its own and is indexed and ranked separately.  Duplicate content actually decreases the ranking of each page and therefore of your site overall.

Descriptive URLs

Search engines won’t find your great content without descriptive URLs.  It certainly is tempting to use a URL like www.yoursite/homepage when designing a site but this practice is terrible for SEO.  Dynamic URLs should be avoided too since web crawlers can’t navigate around cookies.

Make your URLs friendly for search engines by keeping them under 65 characters and giving them the same unique attention as your content.  Consider using keywords, your brand, or other unique wording for each URL on your site.  Isn’t www.yoursite/Home-of-Your-Brand much more original and ultimately SEO friendly?

How Dense Are Your Keywords?

Keywords are a good thing.  The search engine uses them to determine the relevance of your page compared to a query.  The words and phrases you select as keywords should be tied to the likely words and phrases people will use when searching for your site.

Keyword density and placement are very important to SEO.  Where do you need keywords?

  • Title Tag
  •  URL if possible
  • Main Heading (H1 or H2)
  • The first paragraph of content
  • Another two or three places in the content

Be careful, though.  It’s possible to get too much of a good thing.  Search engines look at keyword density and also the natural flow of the page.  If you pack the page with keywords or use keywords in strange ways that just don’t make sense, your page and your site are likely to be penalized.

Is Your Site Flashy?

There’s a fine line between creativity and visual appeal and search engine optimization.  While the eye might like splash pages and lots of Flash heavy content, web crawlers do not.  If your homepage is a splash page with a link to “enter here” you may want to rethink things.  Search engine spiders can’t read text embedded in Flash or other images.  Since they can’t read it they can’t follow the link and index the content that lies behind it.

A little visual appeal is a good thing.   Flash navigation buttons, splash pages, and text imbedded in images and graphics is a not.

Links and Anchor Text

Web crawlers use links to navigate to additional pages to index them.  If you want the crawler to review each page on your site create internal linking to help them along.  Internal links are hyperlinks inserted into anchor text in the content of one page with another.  They help both your visitors and the search engine explore your entire site.

Let’s discuss anchor text.  Ever noticed “Click here” or “Learn More” at the bottom of every page of a site?  This might make logical sense but it is a poor practice for SEO.  The anchor text used becomes a searchable keyword for that link.  Unless you want to rank high in “Learn More” you will avoid these phrases and instead select keywords or relevant natural phrases within the content as anchor text.

Internal links are important to your site, but they are nowhere near as important as back links.  Back links are incoming links that direct users to a page on your site from a completely different site altogether.  They are powerful because they signify relevance and importance to search engines.

While you can’t control back links, there are some things you can include in your web design that encourage them.  Add social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn to encourage incoming links.  Provide link worthy content in a blog or newsletter.


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