Accept this as a given truth: SEO and web design work best when conceived together, with the strategies to reach the goal of one supporting those of the other. Designing for SEO should be at the forefront of every web developer’s mind. It may seem unfortunate from the perspective of a business owner who wants a website that reflects the company’s image and budget using more complex media and graphics, but there is some tradeoff between the most visually appealing site designs and those that are the best for search ranking. Fixing poor site design to improve SEO is more difficult and costly than redoing graphic design, however, and search engine traffic is vital for most sites’ viability as an income source. So SEO needs to be prioritized during site development, design, and redesign.
Of course, intelligent and insightful SEO-friendly design should account for the need to support effective visual design. A high search ranking for a site that can’t convert visitors or encourage them to come back is worthless. Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to implement an SEO-minded site design also encourages effective and adaptable visual design: robust use of style sheets. They organize the site’s internal architecture better, make it load and index faster, and make implementing visually effective page layout alongside SEO optimized code much easier and more feasible. This also facilitates updating basic SEO elements like putting keywords in headlines, subject headers, and anchor text. So as a long-term SEO campaign evolves and becomes more effective, implementing the findings from SEO metrics is easier and synergizes with already implemented practices.
When the client already has an established site that needs to be reworked for SEO purposes, options are slightly more limited. The cost of fixing web design problems that are not favorable for SEO is higher than the upfront cost of combining SEO and web design would have been. But most SEO campaigns of this nature begin with a site architecture redesign anyway. The SEM firm’s web coding team can also use deeper redesign elements to create a more SEO-friendly site beyond just changing the site’s architecture.
It is important for companies in any of these situations to have a grasp of what integrated SEO and web design looks like at a basic level. This is especially the case if the company employs an in-house design team, as the company will have to articulate its goals to that team clearly and ensure they it is capable of the needed tasks. But it also helps with overall literacy on the subject so that conversations between a merchant and the SEO vender can be clearer and more effective. Understanding how website design can support or hinder SEO efforts will make the entire relationship better and allow the project manager at the client to establish realistic expectations for the scope and cost of the project, as well as to take the right steps for its overall success.
Ryan Michael Farrell is a search engine optimization professional and website optimization specialist based out of Los Angeles, California. Visit wpromote.com for more info on SEO, PPC, and effective CSS and Website Design.