So you have a fantastic website but no one ever visits. You may ask? Why? Your website should be designed with search engines in mind. Too many web designers are graphic artists that excel at image manipulation, but lack a basic understanding of search engine optimization. Web design and search engine optimization (SEO) should not be mutually exclusive. Webmasters should have a clear understanding of both design techniques and how the search engines work.

Incredible graphics on a website without any traffic, will do little to fill the coffers. Follow these basic guidelines to ensure that your website will be visited and attractive.

1. Navigation Both humans and crawlers (search engines) need to be able to navigate your website. Avoid using technology that prohibits the search engine’s ability to spider web pages. The majority of search engines have the ability to follow the links on a website if you use standard HTML. Observe normal convention and make the links obvious and available to all website visitors.

2. Easy to Read Fonts should be legible and webmasters should utilize white space judiciously. Text on the web page should be easy to read.

3. Speed Avoid using overly large graphics that are slow to load. Remember you only have mere seconds to capture the visitors attention, do not waste precious seconds with web pages that are slow to load. Search engines too will become impatient and give up on your website if it takes too long to view the content. As a result you should avoid using free hosting services that might be unreliable or slow to respond if you receive any web traffic surges.

4. Consistency Your website should maintain a consistent look and feel. In other words, all the pages on the website should have a similar look, color scheme and navigation.

5. Above the Fold The most important information on the your web page should appear above the “fold”. This means that the website visitor should be able to view the most important content without having to use the scroll bar.

6. Contact Information Include corporate contact information on the website. This lends your company credibility, anyone can pretend to be anyone or anything. Including contact information on a website shows that you are a serious and legitimate business entity.

7. Avoid Javascript/Ajax Javascript and Ajax are cool, but they are not search friendly. It is best to stick with good old HTML. Search engines at this point are unable to spider the website contents that are displayed using Javascript. This is also true of websites that are dynamically updated with Ajax. Chances are the body of your website will help your website rank well; do not waste the search engine opportunity by using Javascript or Ajax.

8. Meta Data Matters Each and every web page on the website should contain a unique title and description. Many search engines extract meta data from the website header and use it to classify and categorize the web pages listing. The web page title and description should relate to the webpage contents.

9. Keywords Naturally Use website keywords and keyword phrases in the web copy in a natural way. Search engines are starting to discern unnatural text, machine generated content and content that is cobbled together by a bot. Write your website’s content for humans not search engines.

10. Web Page Focus Each web page on a website should focus on one or two keywords or keyword phrases, no more no less. The keywords should be incorporated into the meta tags, and web copy.

An optimized website can bring search traffic and visitors who have a natural interest in your product or service. Optimization should be part of the design process. Before hiring a web designer make sure they understand both your design needs and search engine optimization.

About the Author

Sharon Housley

Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll audio recording and editing software.

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