Web Design For SEO: What Every Graphic Designer Should Know
Most people think of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in terms of content, but the best websites integrate SEO into every facet from content to code to graphics. As a graphic designer, you should understand and utilize some basic web design for SEO principles when building a site. When done well, SEO and graphic design compliment each other and actually help a page climb up the rankings.
In a nutshell, SEO is about ensuring the most people possible can find your site. This relies heavily upon the keywords people enter into search engines. Search engines use spiders to crawl the web for relevant content so it can be indexed and eventually found by your intended audience. Clearly, every page of your website should include the most critical keywords. The primary keyword should appear in the title tag, the URL, and the main heading (H1 or H2) of each page. It should also appear in the content, but you may or may not be responsible for that. By embedding important keywords in the architecture of the site, you make it far more searchable.
The most common SEO misstep by graphic designers is relying too heavily upon image-based web development tools. While search engines have become more capable of indexing content such as Flash and Java, search engine spiders are still primarily text-based and cannot read the text and links that far too often are buried behind splash screens, in flash menus, and throughout other image-based content. This does not mean that you cannot have a visually compelling design, but you should make sure your target keywords and most important links are included as text. After all, what good is having stunning graphic design on your website, if nobody can find it?
In more concrete terms, your home page should contain the most important words, such as a company’s name and what it sells, and links to critical pages, such as the “about us” and contact information sections, as text. Each individual page should have a title that uses the same format as the others but contains terms specific to that page. Furthermore, when you do use images, you should also describe them in the alt attribute. This way, the images will also appear in image search results. Simple steps like these not only make the site more search engine-friendly, but also make it that much easier for visitors to navigate.
When it comes to web design for SEO, consistency and specificity are your friends. When you have a simple and consistent structure, your code and design elements are cleaner and easier for everyone to process, including those spiders. For example, you may have several redesigns of a site over the years, but the main root location should remain the same, rather than using sub folders for each version. This way the SEO history of the page does not reset with each new version. Similarly, the more specific you are, the less likely your site will become lost in a sea of generic words and phrases. Anchor text serves as an excellent illustration.
Instead of using common terms that do not tell you anything about the site, such as “click here” and “learn more,” your anchor text should include relevant keywords that are specific, not just to the site in its entirety, but also to each page of the site. This means your keywords and anchor text will vary depending on the page, but the information will be easier to find. Equally important, your design will not mimic spam or other bad SEO practices such as keyword stuffing, which could adversely affect your ranking. If you want to check your work, there are plenty of spider simulators available online which can help identify any problem areas.
These are just a few simple things you can do to increase the visibility of a site. Web design for SEO does not mean you have to sacrifice your creative vision on the altar of SEO. Quite the opposite, you should still be developing dynamic sites that engage the user and look amazing. SEO, however, should be integrated into those choices. After all, both SEO and graphic design should be about providing quality content and design that promotes a worthwhile endeavor.
Graphic Designers Should Integrate Some Web Design For SEO Basics Into Every Site They Build. When Done Well, Search Engine Optimization Enhances Graphic Design Without Sacrificing Quality. Article Courtesy of Wpromote