Great Website Design Combines Looks, Functionality And Search Engine Appeal.

What do you think are the most important considerations your business should take into account when it comes to website design?

Well, there’s no simple answer to that, other than it ultimately depends on what you’re hoping to achieve in the longer term. Yes the look of the site is important as is the functionality, but the ideal website design should ideally be able to do both. There’s no point having an all-singing and all-dancing website if the navigation between pages is woeful: neither is there having a functional site if it looks cheap and amateurish. You really need both – that is a great looking website that visitors can navigate comfortably.

Is that it? Is that all a website really needs to deliver?

Well, actually no it isn’t. A good website should also stand out and attract the attention of the search engines. If Google can’t find your site and index it, then what chance have your customers got of finding it? The best websites are specifically designed to maximise a business’ search engine ranking. What’s the best way of doing this? Well, it’s all down to good design and content, technical performance and the overall quality of the site. How can your business deliver all of these? Well, who better to consult than Google itself? If Google doesn’t have the answers, then who does?

website content and design.

In Google’s opinion the best sites have a clear hierarchy and text links. It should be possible to reach every page on the site from at least one static text link. Good websites should also have a clear site map which offers links which guide users to important pages on the site. The information contained on each of these important pages should be information-rich and unique and should include the type of keywords that users would use to search for your site on the search engine.

Whilst images are important and have their place, Google advises that words are better for displaying important names, content or links because they make it easier for Google’s crawler to index. The crawler won’t recognise text contained in images, so if you have to use images for textual context, then it’s better to use the “ALT” attribute and include a few words of descriptive text. Google also advises that websites should ensure that <title>elements and ALT attributes are both descriptive and accurate, and that websites should use HTML correctly and should check for broken links. Google also cautions against the overuse of dynamic pages, as not all search engine spiders crawl dynamic pages as well as static pages.

Technical Performance.

Google’s advice is that you should use a text browser like Lynx to thoroughly examine your website. Why? Well, simply because most search engine spiders look at websites in pretty much the same way as Lynx would. Gimmicky features like Javascript, Flash and Frames may look great, but they prevent users and spiders from seeing all of the site in a text browser, and that can have adverse implications for search engine ranking. It also advises that website should allow search bots to crawl sites without session IDs or arguments which track their path through site. The reason for this is that user tracking behaviour techniques can have an adverse effect and can result in incomplete indexing of a site.

Google also advises that wen servers should support the If-Modified-Since HTTP header, as this tells Google if the content has been updated and modified since the site was last crawled. The use of advertisements on a website also needs to be carefully considered, as some adverts are blocked from being crawled by a robots.txt.file. Any content management system used on a website should also be able to create pages that are capable of being crawled by search engines. The most important consideration of all according to Google is to make sure that your website is technically able to offer users the best experience and deliver the most relevant results; therefore, you’ll need to constantly monitor and analyse the site’s performance and take all necessary steps to optimise load times.

Quality guidelines.

If you don’t want your website to be targeted by Google’s quality algorithm, the search engine advises that you should always bear on overriding factor in mind, and that’s that you are delivering content for the user’s benefit, not for Google. In terms of quality content Google also advises that websites should:

  • Not use cloaking.
  • Avoid the use of hidden text or hidden links.
  • Not send automated queries to Google.
  • Not stuff pages with irrelevant keywords.
  • Not create multiple pages, sub-domains, or domains with duplicate content.
  • Not create pages with malicious behaviour, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other bad-ware.
  • Avoid doorway pages created specifically for search engines
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site provides unique and relevant content.

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