As a web designer you should be thinking about how you can best optimize your website design to help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) performance. Lots of people think that SEO is down to Meta tags and keywords, but in fact there are lots of aspects that you should consider – a handful of which I’m going to discuss in this article.
Use clean HTML only
One aspect of SEO that people often forget about is having HTML code which actually works and has a purpose. If you have already defined bold text using your CSS style sheet, don’t use a <b> tag as well – it’s redundant and shows that you are not at the top of your game.
Keep URLs as short as possible
While sub-categorizing your content is great for when you are trying to locate pages to edit them, it can be bad for your search engine ranking. If your website is website.com/main/items/discounted/list_page.html, you will find that your ranking is not as high as it could be. Try to limit your page names to containing only keywords which are relevant to the page, and keep folders to a minimum.
Always have a sitemap
Once you have finished your website make sure that you create a sitemap which lists every single page you have. This way search engines can use it to decide which pages they need to crawl.
Use the correct spellings
Make sure that your spellings are correct throughout your website. You might think it doesn’t matter if the alt tags on your images contained misspelled words, but that isn’t the case: you need to have every single word on your website spelt correctly. If your website is about restaurant reviews, and you misspell restaurant, you will indicate to the spider that you are not a professional website and thus your ranking will decline.
Google and other search engines want to know that they are listing websites on the first few pages of their results that have good spelling and grammar. After all, it’s the quality of those first few results pages that reflects Google – they don’t want to rank your website if you haven’t taken the time to proof-read your content.
Limit the file size of each web page
Slow websites are a huge turnoff for search engines, and so if you have huge file size pages (more than 100KB) you may find that you are stuck at the bottom of the results pile. Your pages should take no more than a couple of seconds to load – an instant load time is much better, but not all servers can cope with that sort of load time. Think about removing large images, and make sure that your video and image files are always saved in the lowest-resolution file type to minimize loading time.
Use DIVs, not tables
There was once a time when using tables to organize your website layout was common practice, but nowadays it’s frowned upon. You should use fluid DIVs combined with CSS techniques to form your website layout – tables should be reserved for tabular data only. The reason for this is that they take much longer to render and so will slow down the spiders that are indexing your site.
Have high-quality content
Your content should always be of the highest quality possible. If you have content which could have been written by an elementary school child, Google will penalize you justly. Your content should have a good balance of organic keywords (i.e. keywords which appear naturally in the flow of the text, and weren’t added-in as an afterthought) and use correct grammar for Google to rank you.
Remove any Flash elements