Web Design and the Search Engines
How to design your website with the Search Engines in mind…

During the design phase of your website, you must consider how the search engines will see your website. Follow the guidelines below to improve your chances of being indexed properly and ranked better for keywords relevant to your business.

1) Make full use of the html title tag to describe your website

The search engines display their results for a given search term by listing what it thinks are the most relevant pages. The way it lists its results is usually by page title, page description and then the URL to the specific page.

As the largest and most visible part of this listing is the title, it follows that you should make this as unique and specific as you can to best describe your business and the contents of the page in question.

The title should go in the title tags as below:

<title> Your title goes here. </title>

When you design your website, make sure you have specified the title of each page. If you don’t, the developers will do it for you and may get it wrong.

2) Consider appropriate meta data for each page on your website

Although not compulsory, each page on your website should have meta data to help the search engines categorise and classify the pages within your website. Meta data is the section of code at the top of the page that describes its content.

Netflare recommend you include the following meta data for each page:

<meta name=”Title” content="The title of this page."/>
<meta name="Description" content=”A brief description of the content of this page, who it is intended for and what the main benefits are to the visitor.”/>
<meta name="Keywords" content="put the list of important keywords that are important and relevant to this page here. List them comma separated – spaces are not required."/>
<meta name="Author" content="Name of the author / company name"/>
<meta name="Robot" content="Index, follow"/>
<meta name="revisit-after" content="10 Days"/>
<meta name="Robot" content="ALL"/>
<meta name="Rating" content="General"/>
<meta name="Abstract" content="put your domain name here"/>
<meta name="Language" content="English"/>
<meta name="Classification" content="Business"/>
<meta name="country" content="UK"/>
<meta name="Coverage" content="Worldwide"/>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"/>

Make sure you specify the title, description and keywords for each page. The consequences are that even if the search engines index and rank this page, the overall description of the page will be poor and unattractive to the person performing the search.

3) Use external stylesheets and use html H1, H2, H3 tags for headings

Structure all your webpages based on the correct use of stylesheets. Not only does this help with consistency in design, but it also means less code for the search engines to read in order to determine the relevancy of your content.

4) Use text where-ever possible and avoid using text within images

The information on your website is primarily focused on providing a pleasant experience for your human visitors. However, search engines are also visitors to your website, but they only see the text. If you have important parts of your website with text represented as images, then the search engines will not see it and cannot determine its relevancy.

5) Consider the concepts of linearization before breaking up the copy into different sections

If the design of your website has content broken up into boxes within tables, then consider how the search engines will read this.

Which box should it read first, second then third?

If there is any danger of confusion then the effort you have invested in generated great copy will be lost on the search engines. If the search engines read box two, then box one, then box three, then the sentences will be garbled, make no sense and any relevancy to the search terms will be undetermined.

Instruct your designers to split up the content using DIV’s and not tables. This way, the text can be read by the search engines in the desired order and the location of the text is specified in the stylesheet.

6) Ensure your site is W3C compliant

The benefits of meeting the specified W3C guidelines are that your website will load and run quicker in the various browsers because they will not need to interpret any ambiguities or errors. Your website will also look the same in all browsers meaning that you will not have to worry about adding any special code or hacks to make sure it renders how you intended in the different versions of browsers.

7) Use search engine friendly URLs

If you have sensible names for the location of each of your pages, then the search engines will have an easier time categorising you. The problem with many dynamic websites is that the content fetched from the database is referenced by a set of identifiers and specified by variables within the URL. Although the search engines can and do store this long string as the path to your page, if these variables that point to specific page ever change, then the pages indexed by the search engines will be lost as the variables will have expired.

Put yourself in the shoes of the search engine and see what it sees when it looks at your website. Take into consideration that your website is primarily designed for the human and what may be seem obvious, may be garbled or hidden for the search engines.

If you know exactly what you want, but are struggling to formulate a workable design, why not call Netflare to help? For a free design consultation call 0800 107 4662 NOW and ask for your local agent.