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SES 2007 – Search Engine Friendly Design

Day 1
Track 4: Search Engine Friendly Design

Yes, another refresher course. I know what you are thinking, why is she taking the basics? So I can confirm what we are doing, fill YOU, the small business owner in on what we are doing and refine our systems!

So my next track was the Search Engine Friendly Design track where Shari Thurow of Omni Marketing Interactive spoke with authority and yet, politely blessed each and every sneeze from the audience. I love it! I would too.

So Sheri starts the class off with “NO BLACK HATS HERE!!!!!”

For those of you who don’t know about hats, black hat tactics mean spamming, stuffing, cloaking and all the other tactics that work temporarily but can get you banned forever. White hats do it all “above board.” Don’t worry; we have a team full of white hats over here 🙂

So search engine friendly design IS NOT designing for the search engines. If it was designing for search engines, all the landing pages would look like “backdoor pages” with nothing but a bunch of keywords everywhere that make no sense to an end user. Would you want to buy a product from that!!!!?

A search engine friendly design IS a site designed that can be found by your target audience.

Quick Tip: Remember first that how you arrange your text, images, files and other content show your visor what’s important to YOU.

5 Fundamental Rules of Search Engine Friendly Design:

1. Easy to read – broken up nicely with color, bullet points and images. Not a “sea of black” text.
2. Easy to navigate – provide at least 2 types of navigation. Always let the user know where they are on your site.
3. Easy to find – Can they find you through a search? Can they find how to contact you? One of the first places people and directories look for your contact info is on your about page. Make sure it is there, in a footer and header and of course your contact page! Additionally, you want to always let the user know how to get somewhere else on your site. At least home and to a sitemap.
4. Consistent Layout & Design – People like consistency. It tells them you are trustworthy and dependable.
5. Quick downloading time – It should be 30 seconds (that’s even pushing it) on dial up.

All Search Engine Do This…

Index text
Follow links
Measure Popularity

Now lets talk about the text and links you want to have as part of the usability of the design of the site. This brings us back to keywords. You need a keyword in your linking text whenever natural and applicable. Not just any keyword, targeted keywords. I love Shari’s favorite phrase, “WHAT KIND OF?”

“I sell software.”
“WHAT KIND OF software?”
“Accounting software.”
“WHAT KIND OF accounting software?”
“Payroll accounting software.”

You get the idea. Long tail keywords are where the money is at. Better conversion rates that way.

Here are all the places of a site you want to make sure you include a keyword when designed for a search engine friendly site:

1. Title tag
2. Headings
3. Contextual links (related pages)
4. Cross links a. Vertical – breadcrumbs, past page, previous page, etc.b. Horizontal – related items (news, items, etc.)
5. Intro paragraph
6. Description and other descriptive text
7. Services you offer (linking to coordinating pages of course)
8. Alt text for images. Actual descriptive text for images.
9. Domain and page/file names. If you don’t own then name individual pages relevantly like
10. Metas

Time to talk about navigation. Here are the types (in search engine preference order)…

1. Text
2. Image button
3. Image map
4. Script or Menus
5. Flash

You want to have navigation that has been tested with your target market. What do they prefer? It doesn’t matter if the search engines like you if you won’t convert visitors into buyers! If your visitors prefer flash, by all means give them flash, but provide alternate nav as well with sad text links, links under images, footer links and a sitemap.

Speaking of sitemaps, you MUST have one! Just like no one likes a sea of black though, no one likes a sea of blue links either. A quick way to add text to your pages is with quick descriptions of pages not understood by their linking text. You may want to even feature some of your main keyword seeded services at the top with short descriptions too!

A couple other quick things worth mentioning that were “dropped” during the basics class were the following:

Popularity of a site depends on number of sites linking to it, quality of site linking to it, length of a visitor on site, click number on site, visitors linking text, return rate and book marking of a site. EVERYONE GO AND ADD A “BOOKMARK THIS SITE” to your site right now!

Quick Tip: Banner blindness = not seeing any text at top where typically a banner would be placed. Avoid putting navigation there!!!!

Still have remaining questions? Want more?

Check out…
SEORoundTable’s blog on Search Engine Friendly Design

Oh dear, its late, I’m tired. Sorry for the randomness that became my last entry, but I am exhausted. I’m off to go have keyword nightmares again LOL!

Posted By: Angela Collins
Cal Coast Web Design, Inc.