Good website design is essential to any business looking to find online success; however, when a website does not have a good search ranking, it will be hard for it to be seen by the target audience. To avoid having a site that isn’t search-engine-friendly, here are several content development practices and SEO principles for you to consider. Follow these tips, and you shouldn’t have a problem creating a working and effective website.
As a web designer, I’ve put a lot of thought into the issues that I’ve encountered over the years and the problems others have dealt with working on custom web design and development with search engine optimization in mind. Here are ten excellent search engine optimization tips that can help you come up with search engine friendly web designs without sacrificing your style and creativity.
Make Your Website’s Navigation Search Engine Friendly
Employing the use of Flash for navigation on a website can be disastrous if you do not know how to make different Flash objects web-crawler-friendly and accessible. Search engines have a hard time crawling sites that use Flash.
Place Scripts Outside HTML Documents
Use Content Search Engine Spiders Can Understand
Content is the life-force of all websites and is what search engines feed on! When designing sites, make sure that you consider the structure of your content – does it follows the right structure? Does it contain all the necessary aspects (links, paragraphs, headings) that make content scannable?
Sites that have very little content tend to struggle in search engine results pages – the exciting thing is that this is something that can be avoided with proper planning during the design stages. For instance, do not use images for text unless you’re planning on using CSS background image text replacement.
Come Up with Search Friendly URLs
Search friendly URLs aren’t necessarily URLs that prove hard to crawl like query strings. Great URLs contain sets of keywords that help define the content within the page. Be cautious with some content management systems that use automatically-generated unique codes and numbers for page URLs. A good CMS will give you the ability to “prettify” and customize your site’s URLs
Block Pages You Do Not Want Search Engines Indexing
Are there pages on your website that you do not want search engines indexing? These could be web pages that add no positive value to content like server-side scripts. They could also be web pages that you use to test your designs as you build your website (which aren’t advised but many of us still have them running and available for indexing).
Do not expose such pages to search engine robots as it could lead to duplicate content issues with different search engines and may dilute your content’s density, things that could have adverse effects on your site’s search positions.
To keep specific web pages from being indexed by web spiders, consider using a robots.txt file – which is one of five web files that’ll improve your site.
If there are sections of your site that are being used as testing environments, consider password-protecting them, or, use local web development environments such as WampServer or XAMPP.
Do Not Forget About Image Alt Attributes
Ensure that all the image alt attributes you use are descriptive. All images require alt attribute for them to be 100 percent W3C compliant; however, most people comply with this prerequisite by simply adding random text. It is better having no alt attribute than an inaccurate alt attribute.
Search engines read alt attributes and consider them when determining the relevancy of a page to the specific keywords searchers query. There is also a chance that alt attributes are used to rank images on image-based searches like on Google Images.
Outside the search engine optimization angle, alt attributes help users who can’t see images.
Update Your Blog with Fresh Content
If your site has a blog, consider setting apart time to create new excerpts of content for placing on all of your website pages. Search engines love websites that change the content on their web pages from time to time as it shows that the sites are still active and doing well.
It is worth noting that changing content regularly will increase the frequency of your site being crawled by search engines.
However, do not show full posts as this could lead to duplicate content issues.
Use Distinct Meta Data
Descriptions, keyword, and page titles need to be different from each other. One common mistake web designers make most of the time is creating a template for a site then forgetting to change the metadata. As a result, several web pages end up using the original placeholder info.
All pages should have metadata unique to each; it’s just one of those things that help search engines understand how a website’s structure is constructed.
Make Proper Use of Heading Tags
Make proper use of heading tags within webpage content as they tell search engines more about the structure of the page’s HTML document. Furthermore, search engines tend to place a high value on these tags compared to other text on webpages – well except for hyperlinks.
Use h1 tags for main topics of the page’s content and h2 through hg tags to indicate the hierarchy of content and to outline similar content blocks.
I do not recommend that use of more than one h1 tag on a single page as it could dilute your topic.
Search engines love clean, well-formed code – who doesn’t? Clean, well-structured codes make websites more accessible to robots and can help search engines understand how your site is constructed.