Today most web designers do more than just design the look and feel of a web site. They often play a major part in writing the front end code. This means that a big part of the SEO or Search Engine Optimization responsibilities should fall on the designer. However, there is a large number of web designers that don't understand this subject well enough to create a site that is fully optimized for search engines.
This article is here to provide some important tips that will aid the average and even above average web designer in improving their SEO skills.
1. Make the code prettier than the design
When building the front end of your site, make sure to use semantic code. By using descriptive tags to structure your pages, search engines will be able to read and have a better understanding of your content. This will also make the process of styling your site much easier and cleaner.
2. Use but don't abuse your keywords
Keywords are the words that describe your content. It's important to have them appear in strategic places throughout your page, such as: URL, title tag, and main heading tags. It's also important to have it appear often in the body of the content, but not too often, which might cause your content to be penalized for keyword stuffing.
3. Avoid using Flash for navigation
As tempting as it is to whip out some nice looking drop down effects for your site's navigation using flash, don't do it. Search engines have trouble reading flash files, which means the links used in the navigation can't be followed.
4. Use unique page titles
Each page on your web site should have a title attribute, and each title should be unique. If you use the same title for every page, search engines will think that every page on your site is about the same subject.
5. Don't forget about images
Make use of the alt attribute of an image to properly describe it. As smart as search engines are, they can't see what an image looks like. Failing to this can cost you substantial traffic from image searches.
6. Don't use generic links
Search engines place a high importance on links. So when linking to relevant content, be sure to use a word that describes the content. For example, if you were giving your reader a link to learn more about Photosop, use something like "Learn more about Photoshop" as opposed to just "Learn More".
7. Don't use images to replace text
As designers, we always want to make things look as good as possible. This means sometimes replacing ugly browser rendered heading text with a nice smooth image. Try to avoid doing this. Again, search engines can't see the contents of an image, and this is where you should be putting your keywords.
Edit: Looks like I misspoke(or mistyped) on this one. There are valid ways to accomplish this, such as FIR.
8. Use AJAX sparingly
Ajax is great for enhancing the user experience, but try not to over do it. Content generated with ajax can't be linked to. A good rule of thumb is: if what you are loading with AJAX can be an individual page, then avoid using it.
9. Get indexed quickly
To get your site indexed in search engines in a timely manner, try getting it linked to by a popular site in a related niche. Submitting it to Google also works, but sometimes it can take several days if not weeks.
10. Build incoming links
The number and quality of incoming links plays a big role in the placement of your site in search results. Having quality and unique content is a good way to get people to link to your site. Another way is to be generous with your own links.
11. Use a consistent URL
When you build a site, decide from the beginning if you want to use or drop the "www". Once you decide, stick with it. Search engines, for example, see www.webdesignledger and webdesignledger.com as two different sites and as duplicate content, which they do not like.
Do you have any additional SEO tips? Let us know.
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