It is surprising how many designers you can find who still underestimate the importance of search engine optimisation. SEO experts will tell that it’s increasingly important to appear in the top results on search engine results pages in today’s competitive market, and yet you can still find designers who are devoted to making sites which are pretty to look at but which offer little in the way of website optimisation.
As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of SEO will tell you, the design stage is crucial for any site. With that in mind, this brief guide is for designers.As a Designer, Why Exactly Do You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimisation?
Well, SEO isn’t just for people involved in marketing. As a designer it’s your responsibility to ensure that a site performs well, and that means it ranking highly when it comes to popularity. If a site’s not SEO friendly, it could be losing an awful lot of traffic that you won’t ever be aware of. Therefore a good designer is clearly one who understands SEO and creates sites that perform well.
Apart from Internet users typing in www.thiswebsiteaddress.com and so-called backlink referrals, search engines are the only way visitors are brought to a site. As a designer you may well be judged on whether the site you’ve created performs well in terms of website optimisation, however attractive or user friendly it might be.
Looking at the Basics. How Do Search Engines Actually Work?
Most search engines these days are crawler-based, which means that they have special programs that travel the information superhighway to gather information about what’s there. These programs are often called ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’.These gather the information on which search engines base their decisions about which sites to recommend when someone performs a search. It isn’t a simple process by any means. Complex algorithms come into play as websites compete for search engine ranking and attendant popularity.
Spiders operate in a very specific way and if you’re to design a site with SEO in mind, you need to know how they work. Spiders help the search engine determine the relevance and popularity of a site by studying content and links. They’ll base much of the information they send to search engines on what you’ve made it possible to put there.
What’s Your Job Now That We’ve Decided You’re a Search Engine Optimiser?
Each search engine has a unique algorithm for deciding how to rank web pages.As a designer,understanding the basic principles of these algorithms is vitally important for creating a site that performs well.Businesses often pay search engine optimisation experts for advice,and it’s something that will always be a point of concern with regard to a site.Even when high position is achieved it must be maintained,and designers can be called upon at any time to enhance the SEO of a site.
The job of SEO experts can usefully be seen as involving two basic areas,onsite SEO and offpage optimisation. Onsite SEO are things that can be done on a website itself to enhance SEO, such as HTML mark-ups, internal linking, keywords, structure etc.As such most designers will be heavily involved in onsite SEO.Off page optimisation is involved with things you will have much less control over as a designer, such as back links and ways of getting traffic to a site.Having said this, it could be argued that the design of a site is key to users visiting it in a very broad sense.
What Are Some Mistakes Designers Make in Terms of SEO?
The most common mistake designers make is to get carried away with making a site that shows off their skills by being attractive to look at. It’s sad in many ways, but a lot of the tools designers can employ to make a site look good will detract from its effectiveness in terms of SEO. Splash, Flash, Java and frames are all examples of things you might want to avoid, because search engines need to be able to read text as a basic principle. On the other hand it’s possible to go overboard as a designer when it comes to SEO. Search engines frown upon sites that are obviously designed with SEO in mind and feature, for example, the overuse of keywords and links.
As a designer you’ll really want to do your homework where SEO is concerned!