Website Design Articles

Tips for Designing Search Engine Friendly Websites

Design your small business website with user-focused content and search engine-friendly structure and you'll increase your website traffic.

Search Engines Drive your Website Traffic

Unless you are active in search engine marketing (SEM), the majority of your website traffic will be served courtesy of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN.  The extent to which your website designer structured your site to be search engine friendly can greatly determine how much traffic you receive from the engines.  Search engine friendly design means structuring a website using various techniques so when a search engine spider visits your site, it maximizes the chances your entire website gets indexed and is searchable. 

Common Sense Navigation

The navigation of a website not only guides the user through your site in a structured path, but it also provides the "breadcrumbs" for search engine spiders to find the pages in your site.  From your home page, navigation should lead to all sub pages in your site.  These sub pages should not only link back to your home page, but should also link directly to all other sub pages.  By following this linking strategy, you will give your site the best opportunity to get your pages listing in the search engines. 

Eliminate Unnecessary Bells and Whistles

The use of web technologies such as javascript and flash can cause potential roadblocks for spiders visiting your site.  Spiders are intelligent, but they are not all-knowing.  Spiders generally don't index javascript on a website, so if your fancy drop-down menus aren't CSS based or donít include a noscript tag to show the spiders where your links lead, chances are they won't get followed.  Flash is another technology that is pretty to look at, but it is not indexable by the search engines.  Designers who develop an all-flash website do a major disservice to whomever paid the big bucks for the site. 

Use Title, Alt and Meta Tags to your Advantage

The title tag is the html code that tells the browser the title of the page, but itís also a very important piece of the search engine puzzle.  By naming every page uniquely based on the page content and including your keywords in the title, you will squeeze every bit of juice out of the title tag.  Alt tags are the text labels attached to images on your website which display when the mouse is placed on the image.  The alt tag is an accessibility feature for site visitors who turn off site images.  By naming images using keywords and key search terms, you will maximize the use of the alt tag.  Be careful not to over do the alt tag keywords.  You could potentially get penalized for "keyword stuffing" which is repetitive and excessive keyword usage on your page.  Other metatags are the keywords and description tags that are not overly important, but it doesn't hurt to use them.  

In Today's Internet, Content is King

The most important thing you can do to make your website search engine friendly is to include original content and keep it updated regularly.  If your website hasn't been updated since the day it was published, there is little incentive for search engines to revisit your site.  Search engine databases keep record of past visits to your site, and if your site appears with different content each visit, spiders will visit more frequently.  User-focused design and content should be your top priority in planning and designing your small business website, and if you balance usability with search engine-friendly design, you will have a website that gets traffic. 

If you would like more information on how we can design a search engine friendly website for your small business or redesign your current small business website to get more traffic, contact us anytime.