Do You Design With SEO In Mind?

  • MyLinkClub
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Post 3+ Months Ago

When you're designing websites, do you consider yourself responsible for implementing search optimization elements into your design?

For instance, do you strive to create pages with the fastest load time possible? Do you set the design up to use header tags for targeted keywords? Are your naming conventions designed to assist optimization (images, pages, alt tags, labels, etc.).

I've worked with a lot of designers, and it sort of seems "luck of the draw" when I get a designer who considers the online marketing direction of the site in terms of SEO during the design phase.
  • Bigwebmaster
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Post 3+ Months Ago

When designing websites I actually always design with SEO in mind. My goal besides making a website that provides my users the experience they are looking for, is also making sure that they are as friendly to search engines as possible. Usually when doing this it actually benefits the users as well because my URLs will be more friendly which makes them easier to remember (instead of using all sorts of query strings), pages will be optimized to load faster which is a huge benefit for users, and the HTML markup that is behind the scene is semantically correct which helps visitors who use different types of devices to view the content.

When designing new web designs, I use the the firebug addon in Firefox and also the PageSpeed addon to help figure out where problems lie. Google has said that they may use the load time of a page as one of the signals in the future, so not only could it be beneficial to rank slightly better, but you are also benefiting your visitors as well since overall your site should load faster.

The one thing I do though is to not get overly obsessed with creating the pages for the search engines. When I create the pages the users come first, but I try to achieve both goals by still making everything optimized as possible for search engines too. I really believe if you make a useful website, with excellent content that people love, that is what will work in the long run for both your users and search engines alike.
  • MyLinkClub
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Brian, I can definitely confirm through many tests that the faster loading css based sites rank much better than their slower table based cousins.

I agree with usability first, seo second - but there are designers who seem to be ok with disregarding search based marketing as a whole. Nothing makes me cringe more than getting my site back from the designer and no thought went into seo at all.

Here are some things I hate to see when a design comes back:

- Obvious keywords are in image format
- Headings wasted on words that will not benefit search at all
- directories and file names not optimized

There are other things I'm sure, but these are the first to come to mind.

At the end of the day, it is all about content and usability... but a solid layout from the beginning helps the with early stages of gaining traffic.
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I design with efficiency in mind. I start with the bare essentials, and slowly add enhancements from there. This has always inadvertently left me in a good position as far as on-page factors and search engines go.
  • anderson1234
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Post 3+ Months Ago

A designer will not think in terms of search engine expert.

There are few things which a web designer doesn't compromize like minimum use of javascript, flash files and many more things which a SEO want.
  • graphixboy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

MyLinkClub wrote:
When you're designing websites, do you consider yourself responsible for implementing search optimization elements into your design?
Yes but only to a point. Frequently the designers hands are a bit tied when it comes to SEO. Its usual practice for a design to be handed off to a front-end dev who may or may not have any experience with SEO or simply has their own coding style/framework that would require a significant amount of extra effort to include optimizations. And lets face it, very rarely will a project's requirements doc specify search optimization. In those cases where its not a specified goal, many people will simply leave out things that will help in ranking because it wasn't required.

In addition, even the designs/devs that implement correct semantic search-able structure can easily be defeated by a client who's CMS allows them to change headlines, ignore alt tags and so on.

All this to say that while yes this is something I consider (and others should as well) its frequently out of my hands long before a site actually launches.

MyLinkClub wrote:
I can definitely confirm through many tests that the faster loading css based sites rank much better than their slower table based cousins.
I'm not convinced that speed or coding structure has much to do with ranking. Its simply that when using semantic CSS/HTML you are taking a step to separate the visual look from the content. This step requires the code to contain a certain hierarchy and structure that is inherently easier for spiders to follow and index. This structure could be replicated in a tables based layout by using decent body copy that contains keywords, proper headers for headline content and so forth. The issue is that table layouts are typically only used by newbie designers who don't know the implications of that structure let alone how to make it search capable.

MyLinkClub wrote:
I've worked with a lot of designers, and it sort of seems "luck of the draw" when I get a designer who considers the online marketing direction of the site in terms of SEO during the design phase.
The bar for entry to the web industry is extremely low and the entire industry is therefore flooded with people. However, when there are so many "designers/devs" available there's no way to expect the same type of quality across the board. This is the reason why you should carefully choose who you work with based on their experience and expertise. I'm always amazed by the people who hear my rate and then say they know so and so who will do the entire project for $50 (insert some ridiculously low number here). These people don't understand that someone who understands how visual design, front-end dev best practices, current technology all fit under the umbrella of marketing strategy is a highly skilled expert. However, these people also rarely understand (or care) that the designer/developer should be able to improve their rankings simply by adhering to a best practice based process.
  • elrayyes
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Post 3+ Months Ago

As most designers do put in SEO first and foremost in their designing practice (at least the good designers), it has become common practice. Nevertheless, the future sees SEO to become less important the design process in the next few years. This is due to the following reasons:

1. Facebook
People are turning to their friends to find what they are searching for. Rather than using Google or Yahoo! to find information on a topic, users are asking their Facebook friends (or groups) about whatever information they need.

2. Social Bookmarking
Really involved users might turn to their social bookmarking and news sites when looking for virtually any information. Because of tagging and built-in search functionality on these sites, it's easy for users to find pretty much anything.

3. Better Search Engine Algorithms
Search engines get smarter every day. SEO tactics that worked brilliantly years or even months ago don't work as well now. Search engines know how to weed out the obvious SEO tactics to get at the heart of a site's content.

4. Blog Roundups and Showcases
There are blogs for virtually everything in existance. Many of which post roundups of content from various sources online; which is an excellent way of finding information about a given topic without having to weed through search results.

5. Twitters
It is easier to post a question there than it is to do a search, and you often get much better results. People have more Twitter followers than they do friends on other social networking sites, and so there's more chance to find the information they're looking for.

6. People already have their favourite sites
Most regular internet users already know their favorite sites for certain things – if they're looking for an apartment to rent, for example, they'll go to Craigslist without bothering to search elsewhere, if they're looking for a book, they might go straight to Amazon. What they won't do is use a search engine.

7. More Savvy Searchers
Internet users are much more savvy than they were a few years back. When someone goes to a search engine to find something, they often know exactly what keywords will yield the best results and can quickly weed through the results that don't offer what they need.

So you see, SEO will not be an integral part of the website designing process (at least from what i see happening). Design and visiter experience are much more important. Hey, they might even click that "like" button.
  • graphixboy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I agree with most of that list. Although I don't think that we should stop designing sites to be searchable (understanding how flash, movies, ajax, etc detract from a spider's ability to index content). And it is nice to rank on the first page or two for certain key words.

However, I do think that common SEO services which has really turned into more backlink and traffic generation are mostly worthless today. We need to be putting a much higher emphasis on usability and information architecture since those actually create value for a site visitor. If there's value (relevant and useful information or activity) people will visit the site/use the service/participate. In my experience 99% of sites that worry about link sharing and traffic generation offer nothing of interest to any visitor.

I've come to the conclusion that sites built to be search able with useful content will rise to the top of search results on their own.
  • ComitSteve
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think that in this day and age, if your not taking SEO into consideration when developing you are spinning your wheels. It's pretty much become vital for every web developer to know at least some SEO tactics and best practices.
  • whogoes
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Post 3+ Months Ago

It's true that most designers don't think in terms of SEO or the content being good or bad. In a lot of cases, the client will want what they want and there is nothing the designer can do about it.

However, it is extremely important that all website designers focus on the basics of SEO: Appropriate Titles, the use of H1 and H2 tags, proper link building throughout the site and a sitemap for navigation.

He should also inform that the client target 5-6 keywords and have them on the pages, roughly 4% of the total content.
  • graphixboy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

whogoes wrote:
In a lot of cases, the client will want what they want and there is nothing the designer can do about it.


Thats completely untrue. If you can't help the client see the proper direction to go with content, structure, IA, etc your not a designer your simply a monkey that knows some Photoshop/HTML. If your client isn't willing to listen to your expertise then its time for you to find a different client.
  • StepWill
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well, yes i do design with SEO in mind, because, it's the base, if you want to appear in natural search results, you need a good SEO, for example:

If you plan to appear in the first results, and when a user search for a term you have as keyword, you need to have SEO in order to appear, if not they will loose it, and will end with your competition.
  • michaelscott
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well, if you want to do design a website with seo mind then first you have to search a well reputed Web designing company with seo services and discussed with seo advices for any queries.
  • spork
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Post 3+ Months Ago

michaelscott wrote:
Well, if you want to do design a website with seo mind then first you have to search a well reputed Web designing company with seo services and discussed with seo advices for any queries.


This is complete rubbish. The question is obviously aimed at designers, not clients.
  • Kaushalam
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Post 3+ Months Ago

We already keep in mind SEO while designing or developing a website. There are many factors like URL structure, Keyword placement, meta tags, H1 tags, alt tag for images, URL Canonicalization etc.
  • webmaster[+-]
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Actually.. not really, first there is a well balanced intuitive graphic design, seo is later. :wink:
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well it is essential to keep in mind the seo part during the design phase.Generally, the designer is more or less obsessive of giving a rich look to the website by way of adding images ,eye catchy design layouts to the contrast the seo gives criteria to content i.e text rather than images since from seo point of view website is rated based on the content.

Hence while designing a website the designer should consider the inputs of the seo with great relevance to the design.
  • Gosan
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Right after I received my Graphic Web Design Certificate I didn't know a thing about SEO or how to implement it. And now that I think about it, I believe I should have had to learn about it, but none of my classes even touched on the subject. Maybe b/c it was "Graphic" Web Design, but never-the-less you would of thought the teachers would of mentioned it and showed some minor details about it.

Since then I've worked on/for several e-commerce websites and have learned the importance of SEO. Now I definitely take in mind every aspect of what I know about SEO when making a web page or site. SEO is the backbone of an e-commerce website. If your not ranked on the first page(or more likely the top 5 on page one) of google you're missing a lot of sales.
  • Silvertongue62
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Post 3+ Months Ago

The problem with designing for search engines is that you never finish the site. Lol... Each search engine has different criteria. Then they are always evolving. I wont say that a good designer doesnt think about a seo friendly design but only to a point.

But thats just my opinion.

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