SEO Rules To Live By For Designers
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital component of any new web design. As a web designer or blogger, it’s critical to understand the basics of SEO. You can design a website but if there is no traffic coming to it in a few months your client may be unhappy with the end results. Here are a few basic rules to follow that will advance the SEO on all of your new web designs.
The most important page is the home page:
The home page is the key to your website being found by many search engines. It should summarize the rest of the site, and give a clear, persuasive motivation for a user to look at the other interior pages within the website. Use broader keyword categories and funnel them to your interior web pages with more direct / focused keywords that offer specific products or services.
Backlinks to your website & onsite links;
Search engines pay a lot of attention to the links on your site and backlinks pointing to your site and the anchor text used in those links. Do not use “click here” or “view more” for a link. The link text should describe where the link will take the user, such as “view our SEO services” or “see all digital marketing solutions”. Don’t go overboard, and don’t link to anything inappropriate like a funny meme.
Focus on a few keywords initially:
Pick a few keywords or long tail keyword phrases that describe your website. Use them, and words related to them, whenever it’s natural to do so. Repeating too many times is not a good rule to follow. Use them in sentences, headlines, and links within your site.
Yep, that one again: “Content is King”:
Visitors don’t search for design, they search for content. If your site doesn’t have good content that people want, no one will look at it.
Clean Code is Searchable Code
When building your sites, build in a text editor so as to write clean, readable HTML and so you can use spell checker. The HTML code should follow the conceptual structure of the page followed by the H1 tag, then the first paragraph, H2 tag, etc. Try to use descriptive tags whenever doable. Use “ul” for list types, “p” for paragraphs, “H” tags for heads and subheads, and “strong” for bolded text.
Title tags rule!
Every page in your site should have a title short description of the page with keywords within the description. About 60 letters total for most search engines to display. It should give users a clear reason to click on it. Also, within each page, you should lead with a relevant H1 tag with one of your keywords and the first paragraph of text should be a summary of the rest of the page.
Navigation links should have title attributes that match the titles of your pages. It may seem like small thing, but should give a significant SEO improvement.
Alt tags matter:
Each image on your site should have an alt tag especially those images that are relevant to the web page. If the page is focused on coding tricks, tagging a screenshot “example of coding html” will improve the page being found. Labeling it “picture”, “image” or some general term will do the opposite.
You can choose to ignore some meta tags:
The only meta tag that really matters anymore is the is the description tag which shows in the search results. Search engines may use it to provide the text under the link to your page in their results. Make sure it describes the page in a way that explains why a user searching for your content would want to look at your page. It should grab the users attention to click on the link and go to your site versus other sites listed.
Have a Site Map:
Make sure you have site map. An xml file that describes the structure of the pages on your site and makes it easier for web crawlers to scan your website. After you make one add it to your Google Webmaster account as well as to Bing’s webmaster tools.
Be sure to read our SEO audit checklist post for additional things you should look out for when reviewing your website or starting a new web design project. And remember, with search engine optimization, “Slow and Steady Wins the Race“.
By Brad Fogel