Get The Green Light On SEO — Part 3
Design, Development, and SEO
You know what sucks? Websites that look great often don’t do well for SEO. And websites with killer SEO often don’t look that great. Why is it that these two necessary components, an attractive site and good SEO, don’t go hand in hand? And, more importantly, is there a way you can have both? There is! In our third installment of our series on good SEO we’re going to talk about how to make sure design, development and SEO work together on your site.
Getting Crawled is The Trick To Good SEO
By now you know the basics of SEO and how the key to good SEO is content. Today we’re talking about how design and development factor into the SEO equation. As with everything SEO-related, it’s all about having your website crawled. As your site is crawled Google looks at keyword density, h1s, sentence and paragraph length and all of those other things we’ve discussed.
But what about when your site has amazing pictures and videos? Well, imagine that Google is essentially blind: it can only read but can’t see those images. The key is knowing how to tell Google what is on your page and why it’s worthy of a good SEO score and, thus, better rank in search results. Here’s how to tell Google how awesome your site is when it comes to design, and some tricks for the backend to help even more.
Design & SEO
The first step is understanding what Google can and cannot index and how to work around that.
- Google can’t see your gorgeous images. Human visitors can see your design and they are import. Conversely, Google cannot see these images when crawling. For this reason you should make sure that you always include alt text. This tells Google what the image is (hint: include the keyword).
This may seem like a simple thing but remember, Google can’t see it can only read. Give it something to crawl connected to your picture and watch your SEO improve.
- Java, Flash, and other animations might as well not exist. You might have some kickass animation but it doesn’t matter to Google. Be sure to balance these with enough content text to give Google something to crawl.
- Text needs a reserved spot above the fold. When designing sites always save room for text “above the fold”. When Google crawls sites it wants to know what the site is about as early as possible. Show Google that you have valuable content by placing some of it close to the top of the page.
Sure, the content on your page will get crawled but why not get as much bang for your buck as possible? These are two ways to instantly boost your site’s SEO.
Development & SEO
When it comes to development there are a few things to avoid to promote good SEO. Here are some heavy hitters you should fix right now if they exist on your site.
- Don’t be a gatekeeper. Many sites have a form that appears before certain content can be accessed. While it’s a great way to gain info about who is stopping by, this content cannot be crawled. Limit or avoid this practice altogether. An appropriate way to use these forms is for an ebook or other download.
- Don’t orphan pages. If a page on your site can only be accessed by entering its URL because it is not connected to your hierarchy it’s called an orphan. Spend time checking out the navigation on your site. Your pages should all link so that the spiders can easily access and crawl through as much as possible. Have a sensible navigation and link system in place.
- Short & sweet URLs. When determining the URL for each page there are two things to keep in mind. Keep the URL short and make sure that any reader can figure out what the page is about from the URL. If a person can figure out a page’s purpose quickly, so can Google. Don’t allow automatic generation that uses an alphanumeric coding system. Instead, replace these with words and make sure that you always follow the same formula for crafting. Let’s use the above nav chart as an example of good URLs.
There are more ways to make sure that your site has good SEO through design and development that we will get into when we return to SEO in a few months. For now, check whether you are following the practices here in your own site. Then, contact Digital Firefly Marketing for a free SEO audit where we will do a deep dive into every aspect of your site’s SEO. We also offer free design audits. Be sure to come back next week when we share our favorite tools for monitoring your SEO best practices.