SEO and Great UI – How to Make Them Work Together

When it comes to designing a website it seems that there are two paths that one can take these days. You can either make a really great looking website that is easy to navigate, pleasant to use and well designed. Or you can make it as highly optimized for the search engines as possible.

We all know that if you want to charm the search engines it’s very clear what you have to deliver – high quality links, relevant citations, social media mentions and of course, on page optimization. All the ‘on page’ stuff relies on one thing, and that is content that’s easily crawl-able and understood by the search engines. Obviously this is something that straight graphics cannot deliver but which designers still love to use for obvious reasons.

The case for UI

Graphics allow us to have all those nice, little finishing touches (drop shadows, gradients, fades etc.) that make a website pleasing to look at and easier to understand which increases user engagement. In the past, in order to make a site palatable for Google the design ended up suffering quite badly since the amount of graphics were cut down considerably and replaced with plain web safe fonts like Arial and Tahoma – not the most exciting choices since they’re literally everywhere.

SEO & Great UI

The case for SEO

This would leave the site owner with a choice that’s not easy to make – have a website that is great to use and gets no traffic, or one that’s flooded with visitors but looks boring and uninspired which affects engagement and conversions. You’ll see examples of both of these approaches every day during your regular surfing. Some sites look amazing with very little text and others are white pages chock full of text from top to bottom like a page out of a book – two very different purposes and outcomes. Up till now these two philosophies have been almost diametrically opposed to one another, but thankfully times are changing. Nobody wants to make that kind of choice and thankfully they don’t have to anymore.

The Winning Formula

Webfonts are gaining huge popularity amongst designers now because they allow us to create websites with style that are also easily crawl-able by search engines. With the smart use of webfonts, HTML and CSS it’s possible to create graphical elements that look like highly designed graphics but are actually largely made up of live text. You can get all the juicy H1s, bolding, body text and titles you want this way and the search engines see it as nothing more than regular, old HTML.

What’s needed now is a way for designers to bring these two worlds together so both objectives can be achieved – high serp rankings and a great experience when the visitors arrive. One of the most effective ways to hit these goals is to unite the SEO and web design guys and let them work it out together. More collaboration upfront will result in a far superior website and better performance for your clients – not to mention sites that are much quicker to make and update when changes need to be made.

It’s such a shame that most of the best sites out there now have many text elements that Google will never index like badges, sale signs, discount stickers and promotions. This is something that would be very useful to have indexed but they never will be since they’re purely graphic elements.

Expandable div tags are another great way to add product descriptions to flat images that not only give the user information on the items they’re looking at, but can provide a ton of great text for Google to index and maybe even help you rank for some awesome, long tail keywords.

Just don’t use too many different webfonts in a design as each one is around 50k so they can slow things up creating a sluggish website. However, if done right the site will usually be smaller and faster than using heavy graphics anyway.

Over the next year you will see more and more web designers embracing this philosophy because it just makes sense. So why not give it a try on your next project? You might find you’ll never be able to go without it again.

Author Bio – This article has been written by Sameer Panjwani on behalf of Directory Maximizer, a premier link building service specializing in directory submissions, local business listings, content marketing, niche directory submission etc. Do get in touch today for more information on how to maximize your SEO efforts using their link building services.

Mars Cureg

Web designer by profession, photography hobbyist, T-shirt lover, design blog founder, gamer. Socially and physically awkward, lack of social skills, struggles to communicate with anyone who doesn't have a keyboard. Willing to walk to get to the promised land. Photo and video freelancer, SEO. Check out more on my Google+

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