Search engine consultants and website designers are often called in at different times to work on a website development project. Rarely do two ever work together, which is very unfortunate. With this being case, many search engine marketing consultants have seen their client's rankings plummet without hope after a website redesign. Vise versa, many designers have seen their exceptionally created and beautiful website designs destroyed by an SEO-focused optimization. This does not have to happen!
The ongoing argument between search engine optimizers and website designers has always been focused around one simple question… who serves greater purpose? The search engine optimizer will argue: what good are great looking, flash-enabled, and graphic-heavy websites if no one will ever find and appreciate them. The website designer will counter with: what good are websites capable of attracting 1,000 new visitors a week if not one visitor sticks around long enough to convert. The fact is that search engine optimizer and website designer are both correct and are both equally important in website development process.
The process is simple. When an Internet searcher enters a keyword or key-phrase into Google, Yahoo!, or any other search engine, they demand that search engine provide them with adequate and relevant results. That same Internet searcher, when entering a website, expects certain website characteristics, such as a design and layout that best represents products or services it provides, an easy-to-use and understandable navigation, and a complete fully functionally website. Nothing less should be expected. So, if both are equally important than where does that leave us… with something I like to call “Search Engine Friendly Design.”
A search engine friendly design is nothing more than a well-balanced combination of both, search engine optimization and professional website design. In addition, a search-engine friendly website should also be in tune to average visitor. It is very important that every page of website be designed and written with its visitor's best interest in mind. Let’s face it, if you’re not appealing to your website's average user, than all efforts, including design and promotion, are lost.
A savvy designer, one who knows what search engines are looking for, can design websites without compromising their appearance and usability. Here are a few examples of how:
Text vs. Images - Its common knowledge within search engine marketing community that search engines are blind to layout and pictures. Often website designers, trying to add creative elements to their website, will implement large graphics and flash files, not realizing that their actions may actually be inhibiting website's promotion.
Seeing as search engines will most likely be primary source of any website's traffic, I would highly suggest adding a search engine marketing consultant to your development team, especially during beginning stages of your website design. As a good search engine marketing consultant already knows, it is very important to develop and maintain a website that has plenty of content, enriched with relevant keywords.