I’m fresh off a trip to the Big Apple and meetings with several of our esteemed clients. Despite healthy corporate digital marketing budgets, and savvy digital marketers, I’m dismayed by the seemingly never-ending conversation about website redesigns not being SEO friendly. Everyone…you need an SEO web design that is going to help you get found by search engines.
One such client just underwent a two year and $2 million website redesign only for them to come out the other side with a site that is lacking the most basic SEO elements such as title tags, description tags, HTML content on the site, and more. To exasperate the situation, the redesign was done without a CMS (content management system) in mind so that means every single time the marketing team wants to change an SEO element, we have to open a ticket with IT. Really people? Every. Single. Time. Is it 1999? Do I sound fired up – you bet. I’m watching my client’s traffic steadily decline as their site falls below page 1 of Google because the redesign has left little to no content for Google to crawl.
So, when the redesign conversation comes up at your office, be sure to have a category for SEO web design and an SEO expert at the table. SEO, or search engine optimization, isn’t just a means of tailoring your written content to include the keywords you think people are searching for. It’s a far-reaching undertaking that has implications for every single aspect of the web design process.
Here are just three of the SEO web design tactics you can’t afford to overlook and a few reasons why most companies rely on the experts:
1. Page-Level SEO Content
Web development companies that know SEO use metadata. Embedded in a website’s code, this data isn’t visible to viewers once they’ve reached your pages. Nonetheless, it tells browsers and web-crawling robots how to handle your content, so it’s essential to being found in the first place.
For instance, Google and Bing rely on meta tags to identify titles, descriptions and relevant content keywords. This information helps them create the introductory snippets that appear in search results. Smart SEO web design companies therefore include appropriately-placed cliffhangers, attractive language, calls to action and other enticements that draw traffic in.
There are scores of meta tags that do everything from define what kind of characters a page uses to tell Google whether to display a page snippet or follow certain links. While it’s not essential to use every single tag in existence, it’s critical to cover those that affect how your site appears to the outside world.
2. Element-Level SEO Content
Document heads, links and other common HTML components can include various meta attributes that help with advanced page indexing. The head usually contains the page title and other references that permit the page to function as intended. Links can tell browsers what type of resources they connect to, what languages they target and other vital details.
Every user is unique, but they all benefit from accurate metadata. For instance, some consumers may search for your pages via Google queries that target PDF documents, such as your product instruction manuals. Others might take the long route by following links that correspond to specific document titles after a generalized starting search. Working with an SEO consultant helps you target a broader range of relevant search behaviors more accurately.
SEO friendly images are critical manifestations of good element-level web design. These images include alt and title attributes that search engines can read to classify media content. Because search engines don’t visually see what your pages contain, SEO friendly images are vital to helping this content contribute to your visibility.
3. Connection-Building Content
Search engines like Google frown upon so-called link-building schemes that simply use links to increase page rankings. Web designers must focus on comprehensive content management strategies, implement designs that engender user value and promote desirable experiences.
For example, adding a Like button and adhering to Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol both make it easier for your content to seamlessly integrate into social media feeds and timelines. Publishing related external content on Tumblr, Pinterest or Instagram could increase the organic value of your links as more people follow and share them.
Of course, these are just a few aspects of SEO-oriented design. Leveraging SEO content is by no means impossible, but it’s a heavily-involved task that demands expertise and attention to detail. Companies redesigning or building pages benefit greatly from working with an SEO consultant from the very beginning of the project and having tasks and milestones along the way to ensure the final product meets the business objectives and the SEO criteria necessary to rank in Google.