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Thursday, Jun. 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

SEO Workshop Part 5: Design Tips for Development

By Mariel Bacci
June 21st, 2012

Welcome to the 5th installment of our SEO workshop series.  If you missed the first four posts, you can catch up by viewing them here:

SEO is EASYKeywordsKeywords In HeadlinesBody Copy

SEO Design and Development Best Practices

Everyone seems to be going crazy these days about ‘the secrets’ to optimizing their site for search engines.  The good news is, the only real secret is continued hard work and dedication.  The bad news is that you’re not likely to want to spend your time changing URL’s reformatting pages, etc. when there are more important things to spend your time and resources on (think increasing conversion rate).  So, we are here to help you work with what you have at hand.  You can perform quality  SEO within your existing Web site’s constraints.

When you do find time to redevelop your site for SEO, you are bound to run into some critical questions:

Do you sacrifice your user’s experience for more search engine traffic?

How far will you push your SEO efforts before you start scaring people away with your overwhelming keyword spam?

Is the design that search engines find easiest to index the same format that increases conversions on your site?

When developing a brand new Web site, or overhauling an old one- you don’t have to worry about compromising your sites’ experience for humans to satisfy search engines.  If your site is helpful to people, it will also be favorable to search engine crawlers. This fact will only become more true with every search engine update.

We are going to introduce you to multiple SEO best practices related to design and development. You don’t necessarily have to follow all of our suggestions to make your site favorable to search engines. It is nearly impossible to comply by all the rules that optimize your site for SEO, but do the best you can now to reap the rewards of quality traffic.

There are some important SEO factors that are influenced by the way your site is built, such as wireframes, information architecture,  design, and development practices. This isn’t an exhaustive list but it does focus on some of the easier to accomplish practices with proven results. Time to jump in and get started by optimizing your site with the following:

  • Use keywords in your URL. This can be accomplished by ensuring your file-naming conventions make good use of your keywords.
  • Include targeted content on every page. Ideally, each page should contain two to three paragraphs of descriptive, keyword-rich body text.
  • Place keywords closer to the beginning of the file code. CSS can be used to visually position the text wherever you want it, while making it appear higher up in the code for search engines.
  • Use header tags instead of <div> tags or images. If a page heading or title contains a keyword, it should ideally be text. If possible, use the important keyword in an <h1> tag, a secondary keyword in the <h2> tag, and so on.
  • Limit HTML file size. Keep a lid on the number and size of images and unnecessary code.
  • Add alt text for images. Be descriptive. This is another opportunity to tell search engines what the page is all about. All images should have alt tags, including logos, headings and photos.
  • Use internal text links instead of image links. Search engines use the content contained within a link to determine what that page being linked to is all about. It needs to be text so they can read it.
  • Deploy search-friendly DHTML. Avoid JavaScript DHTML if possible. Use CSS for cover effects. If your site has a menu built this way, be sure to include a secondary text-based navigation.
  • Avoid frames-based Web design. Frames and inline frames (iframes) generally make it difficult for search engines to crawl Web sites.
  • Ensure correct application of the robots.txt file. This enables you to restrict or allow access to your site by search engines. Employ it carefully and properly.
  • Avoid duplicate content.
  • Follow proper site redirect architecture. Avoid 302 (temporary) redirects and employ 301(permanent) redirects to ensure the search engines index your content appropriately.
  • Avoid hidden text and other potentially deceptive practices. Any tactics that are considered black hat SEO will probably get you penalized. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday.
  • Steer clear of splash pages. Most splash pages are very graphic-heavy and text-light. They offer little value to users or search engines.
  • Use tables appropriately.
  • Avoid query strings in URLs where possible. Put keywords in the URL instead of query strings. URL aliasing can be used for ugly URLs.
  • Create clean, valid code. Search engines appear to prefer code that is lighter, cleaner, simpler, more semantically defined, and in line with W3C standards. CSS can help you achieve this.

What practices did you use when you designed your site to optimize for SEO?  Were you able to implement any best practices as an after thought?  What do you think is the most important development feature for your SEO rankings?  Have you implemented a best practice and found it greatly benefited you?  Do you need help getting your site search engine ready?  We can help!

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Comments (82)

  1. [...] merchandising buzzwords for online retailersHow Google Shopping Will Shape Internet Retailer…SEO Workshop: Design Tips for DevelopmentQR-Codes einmal wirklich innovativ eingesetztFür und Wider zu Googles “Product Listing [...]

  2. Oh, so much to learn. Thanks for sharing these design tips.

  3. Most splash pages are very graphic-heavy and text-light. They offer little value to users or search engines.
    Use tables appropriately.

  4. Basic SEO on-page checklist! Very helpful. Thanks for this info.

  5. Handy tip about placing relevant keywords higher in the code with CSS. But I find this a bit difficult to do. Maybe some workshop for this in the future?

  6. Hello!!

    I love your post about SEO and I hope you help people to solve their problems with optimization. My personal view about this issue is that the more experience you give to visitors and the more time they spend on your website the better for your rank !!

    Thank you,
    zourkas

  7. Really good summary what to do and where to put the stress of SEO work on. Additionally add title tags within your internal links.

  8. Good summary of all you should do for SEO reasons. I would like to add the title tags within the internal links.

  9. I’ve followed this post’s suggestions, and modified the code in our site. Well, this simple operation increased the woorank of our site by 30% score points!! AMAZING RESULT!

  10. wow I didn’t think of all the things that we must do when we want develop SEO for website..I learned a great deal from your article..great

  11. I wonder just how much of this on page SEO affect SERP placement.

  12. That is really required because interactive design is must now a day to earn unlimited benefits.

  13. Oh God… SEO is soooo difficult and has so many parameters. But once you log in it’s difficult to log out!!

  14. Great SEO guide for on-page optimization. you’ve covered everything here. There is more to it than on-page SEO though. Off page optimization like link building with well crafted titles and anchor text are very important, as well as social media presence and blogging.

  15. I wish I knew about a load of this stuff when I started out, I have so many domains that dont contain keywords :(

  16. SEO is a complex field. When you deal with conversion rates every detail matters. Good post

  17. Thanks for the SEO tips. I never thought about limiting my HTML size…interesting!

  18. Why do they keep making it harder to do SEO? The more I work at it the more they change it.

  19. I have done all of this LONG TIME AGO. Still my site is not getting popular. I need BACK LINKS. Please write an article related to that. PLEASE.

  20. SEO is being more and more influenced by Social networks. Like Mashable and Huffington Post, I am writing articles more “consumer oriented” instead of SEO oriented and I am getting very good results with Panda and Penguim.

  21. If you make your website best for users its by default will be best for search engines too. Every Google’s guidelines only ask you to make your website great for visitors/ users. There is no need to stuff keywords or writing compelling content. Just write relevant and informative content which can be easily understandable. Use proper page titles without repeating keywords. Make website user friendly by default it will be SEO friendly.

  22. No matter how much the Google Algorithm changes the SEO fundamentals will remain the same. We should always learn the fundamentals and apply them to our websites!!

  23. No matter how much the Google Algorithm changes the SEO fundamentals will remain the same. SEO has always been the most important element that should be implemented on your site!!

  24. Thanks for the info. It’s good that with all the changes Google seem to make that you can still succeed by following a few simple rules.

  25. I usually add some heading tags into my posts. and that really works…

  26. i knew some points mentioned in this article… can you plz tell what should be the percentage of keywords in an article so that it can be promoted higher ranking and traffic ?… thanx in advance… :)

  27. Keywords count only in the text of the main post/page? Not in the menu tems, or sidebars, or footers??
    Sorry, newbie here

  28. SEO is my favorite science, one month ago has arrive the google penguin algoritm change, many of the old rules change, but the essence are the same

  29. All great tips! When I first started, I would have killed to find a website like this to help me avoid all of the dumb mistakes I made.

  30. The more experience you give to visitors and the more time they spend on your website the better for your rank. This is good summary of all you should do for SEO reasons.

  31. Is SEO Really Necessary for every single website?

  32. I’m using Easy WP SEO plugin to enable SEO On Page

  33. If you want to optimize one website must to read a book for SEO. SEO means patience

  34. Nice tips! I’m studyng SEO for a long time and your article helped me to better understand

  35. Well, if you use CSS to give humans a different view than the search engines, you are as guilty of BH SEO as the guy that uses font colors or any other technique. IMO

  36. Article marketing is not only a great way to enhance your SEO efforts but if you write good stuff it can generate a lot of direct traffic to your site from people who trust you as an authority.

  37. Google is getting better and better and understanding and writing into their algorithm exactly what users want. Focus on the user experience and Google will reward you.

  38. Fantastic list you have here! This is a great start to a solid on-page optimization strategy. The most important factors are having the keyword in the URL and in the heading tags.

    Nice work!

    Tommy

  39. Great article! Making a site without the proper SEO is a bit of a waste.

  40. Thanks for the tips on SEO, I’m a beginner and want to learn as much as possible. People like you make it easy to learn something new everyday.

  41. I’ve followed most of your recommendations and now I guess I just have to wait and see.

    Crossing fingers :p

  42. But still anyway nothing is better than fresh and unique content!

  43. SEO seems to be a continually moving target and a lot of what worked last year (or even last month!)doesn’t work any more. Makes me want to focus more on traffic generation that doesn’t depend on the serps. But still, I give your SEO techniques a try. thanks!

  44. Being the authorized representative of Nidhi Infotech I thank from my whole team for this useful information. This post has made us know many things which we were not practicing. I once again thank you for this.
    Team Nidhi Infotech.

  45. These design tips are really good for a development web design. But the most important for development is back link. Thanks so much.

  46. Thanks for the recommendations. I try to follow most of them on my website but as my site is a more of photoblog its hard to use general SEO tips to attract an audience. Any tips on how to boost search engine traffic to my site would be appreciated.

  47. Can you maybe tell us more about the robots.txt. What exactly do I have to do and is there maybe a plugin to manage this file?

  48. I totally agree with these tips and I think that more web developers should focus on things like this when building themes. SEO is a major part of web design, I think anyway.

  49. Oh wow ! What a great article … but it’s hard to understand the different techniques of SEO.

  50. Article marketing is not only a great way to enhance your SEO efforts but if you write good stuff it can generate a lot of direct traffic to your site from people who trust you as an authority.Thx For your tutorial

  51. A helpful post, indeed its important to think like an information architect, you want to get people into the building and to have them stay awhile so to speak, not like a mousetrap, but like a well “hosted” banquet hall with a feast of info

  52. Thanks, I read all 5 articles and implemented it. Now I will wait the effect happen in my site (I hope)

  53. Great advice. I think its important to get all this correct however the key element with SEO is always going to be quality inbound links. One thing I would suggest is using keywords in links both on the Navigation and the content however its a trade off between between being effective and spam, like most things in SEO.

  54. Very resourceful article to be seen here! One needs to understand the power of SEO in life & also the point of worry for many as Penguin update has made the task more worrisome to many! Well, the design matters the most in every aspect always! Extra coding can ruin it whereas too much images can spoil it!

  55. Have any tools for checking this tips ? as web SEO core or similar ?

  56. This is a great reminder to keep up with all the changes Google makes and still remain compliant. The tip about adding alt text to images is a timely reminder – often overlooked but yet another indicator for the search engines to crawl for page info. Good post to keep as resource. Many thanks for sharing.

  57. I totally agree with you, that when a site is helpful to people, it will also be favorable to search engine crawlers. In my opinion it is also the only answer to get a high viral effect in Facebook or google+, because people only “like” site, that are helpful and give them the answers to their questions, wrote in searchengines.

  58. Very good advise. What’s strange is that Google plus button does not validate as CSS, so the site won’t validate with that button and I haven’t found a workaround yet.

  59. What is SEO?

  60. This blog is really helpful for SEO. When anybody starts the SEO of any site these points are very helpful that time.

    Thank you for the excellent blog.

    I also have a one query that robots.txt is important for every site if i don’t want to disallow any page?

  61. Your point about alt text is a good one. Alt text is what Google uses to determine the subject matter of an image.

  62. Hi! This is the first time I read that I should include keywords in URLs, from now on I’ll make sure to put some. Thanks!

  63. I am am a new blogger and I want to thank you for your tips. Are there any tools out there that can check out your website to see if you are following good SEO practices?

  64. Can you maybe tell us more about the robots.txt. What exactly do I have to do and is there maybe a plugin to manage this file?

  65. I wish I knew about a load of this stuff when I started out, I have so many domains that dont contain keywords :(

  66. I just applied your tips on my blog! Thank you for sharing us this helpful tips.

  67. This is truly great post idea – seo should start in the fundamentals.

  68. You are right, that if a content is useful and helpful helpful to visitors, it will also be favorable to search engine crawlers. I think that is the only way to get high scores using Facebook or google+, people “like” sites for content, which they find useful for themselves, something they want to share with others.

  69. Great tip on using text links instead of images with hyperlinks. I guess anchor text is still pretty important. thanks!

  70. Nice writeup. I deploy most of these seo tips on my site but my only problem is that i’m still on a pr of zero. I find it really boring backlinking but I that’s the only way to step-up my pagerank.

  71. Great and informative post. This can really help one’s on page seo. Great author. Thanks a lot for sharing such type of informative post.

  72. Remember that if you take your CSS positioning too far off the page that google with down-rank your website. Make sure your print stays on the page.

  73. Nice Information About Seo Thanks for Sharing :)

  74. its hard to believe that some people still try and use hidden text for seo lol

  75. Really good summary what to do and where to put the stress of SEO work on. Additionally add title tags within your internal links.

  76. Hi. Mariel. Great post by the way. But I was wondering if you could refer me to links that talk about other ways to optimize your site for search engines. Thank you

  77. @Bradley

    Did you take the opportunity to read the rest of the posts in this series? It should pretty thoroughly cover any onsite SEO strategies you would want to employ, or link to articles that can offer more details. Thanks for reading!

  78. Keyword density also a major part to rectify. Keyword density needs to balance correctly. Too high keyword density flagged your web sites as “keyword Spam-ming”.

  79. You are right, that if a content is useful and helpful to visitors, it will also be favorable to search engine crawlers. I think that is the only way to get high scores using Facebook or google+, people “like” sites for content and Keyword density also a major part to rectify. Keyword density needs to balance correctly. Too high keyword density flags your web sits as “keyword Spam-ming”.

  80. One thing I would suggest is using keywords in links both on the Navigation and the content however its a trade off between between being effective and spam, like most things in SEO.

  81. What a nice article ! I agree that developing a website should be SEO friendly. I thinks content plays an important role in getting more traffic.

  82. I didn’t realize using iframes were such a bad element to use in terms of search rankings I’ve always used them as a simple way to have scrollable areas I’ll have to find an alternative thanks

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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