Let’s be real. Although search engine optimization (SEO) is something we’re all familiar with, many professionals admit they don’t fully understand SEO tactics. With words like “science” and “discipline” being used to describe SEO, you might think you need a special degree or an “SEO-whisperer” on staff to achieve SEO value. Is that why you’ve been hesitant to adopt SEO best practices?
Though SEO can be complex, it’s not rocket science, and it’s not something you can ignore in today’s digital marketing environment. It’s like the pile of clothes in the corner of the bedroom. We know we need to put them in the laundry, but day after day, the pile continues to grow. Eventually we get to it, but the amount of time and effort needed to complete the task becomes overwhelming. Tackle the laundry when the pile is small and the process will be much easier!
Likewise, when designing or redesigning your website, include elements that provide SEO value in the beginning, which can save you time and make your site work harder to attract customers.
Too often, a great looking website lacks SEO value, while a poorly-designed site has great SEO. Let’s look at how you can have both.
Focus on Fonts
I’ve always been a huge fan of typography (yep, I’m one of those people). Typography can be used to engage and grab attention where it might otherwise be lost. These days it’s also key to great SEO. Standard web fonts are no longer effective. Sites like Google, Typekit and fonts.com have made it easy to use visually stunning fonts without compromising design. Use fonts wisely with your H1 and H2 title tags, and your site will not only look better instantly, but it will also generate valuable SEO properties. In the example below, both pages have the same SEO value. Each of them properly use the correct title tags and paragraph fonts. However, the one distinction is the look of the fonts. Use every tool you can to make your website beautiful and engaging.
Create a Great Experience Without Sacrificing SEO Value
It’s no secret that to keep someone on your website, you need to provide a great User Experience (UX). But at what cost to SEO? A cool graphic is meaningless if you aren’t seeing a return on your SEO. A frequent design request is “graphics that look great without text junking it up.” But, text is necessary for search engines to find you. To accomplish both, we need to think outside the box.
For example, let’s look at the two seemingly identical graphic below and how one actually achieves far more SEO value than the other.
Wow! Pretty cool, right? But in terms of SEO value, it’s lacking. The only SEO value in this example is: Image Alt Text = The Power of Great Content.
Hmmm, what to do? Here’s a user-friendly solution that not only looks great, but provides SEO value in an all-in-one solution. Hover over the graphic below to view a solution.
Providing quality content is key to reaching today’s buyers. With over a century of experience in print and digital publishing for businesses, Spry is uniquely qualified to create valuable content that will inform and impact your customers’ buying journeys.
Now we’re talking! By creating a roll-over of the graphic, we provide crawlable text within our graphic and create a unique user experience to help engage the user. Now, our SEO value is: “Image Alt Text = The Power of Great Content.” “Providing quality content is key to reaching today’s buyers. With over a century of experience in print and digital publishing for businesses, Spry is uniquely qualified to create valuable content that will inform and impact your customers’ buying journeys.”
Use html, CSS and Webfonts in Perfect Harmony
As web designers, we see lots of graphics created with text as part of the image, which are often used as “sliders.” These look great, but provide zero SEO value! Instead, try designing your graphics with the fonts over the graphics as text. The goal here is to create as much crawlable live text as possible. To do this, make sure not to embed text as part of the actual graphic.
Make Your Ads
Try not to embed your fonts into a graphic. Instead, try laying your text over your images to make it searchable.
Index your Content
Images: Be sure to add alt tags so the images can be given a text description and become visible to search engines.
Video: Provide transcripts for the audio content. This helps any audio content to be seen by search engines.
Go with the Flow
For content to be crawled and indexed by search engines, it needs to be “discoverable.” Search engines are smart, but are limited to discovering content through links. If the proper links to your content don’t exist, or they’re buried or broken, your content won’t be discovered and it will be impossible to get your site’s pages to rank.
Your goal from a design perspective is to create a site that flows sensibly for users to engage with, while your goal from an SEO perspective is to create an architecture that allows pages to be crawled and distributes internal links in the correct fashion. Prioritize your most important content high up in the site’s design – this will include important and relevant services or product categories, which should also map directly to your priority keyword themes. From there, create subcategories and individual product or service pages.
The reality is that you’re not trying to rank a site – you’re trying to rank pages within a site. Content tells search engines what each page is about. Gone are the days of simply stuffing your pages full of content and keywords. Today, SEO value lies in the quality of the content with truly relevant keywords. To achieve quality content, take the time to focus on your message: What is this page ABOUT? What question does it answer? What query does it solve? Write as if you’re speaking to the search engines. The search engines will reward you with higher rankings!
The good news is that more companies realize the importance of good web design. The not-so-good news is that SEO is often just an afterthought. To be truly competitive, companies should be asking: How is the design contributing to SEO and improving our rankings? Are the pages of our website and their content readable on mobile devices? Is the content with great SEO value buried deep in the website, not connected properly to the site architecture and not indexed?
Give your website every opportunity to not only look great, but also be gaining SEO the right way. Search engines – and prospective customers – will thank you!
If SEO still sounds like a form of voodoo and you’d like a little help improving your site’s ranking, give me a call at 734-531-7421. I’d love to provide a free SEO consultation and work with you to maximize your website’s SEO.
Kevin Anger is the Creative Director for Spry Ideas and SEO guru. A true lover of all things design, he is committed to using his many talents to craft effective design solutions