How Web Design Can Affect Search Engine RankingsWritten by John Metzler
Uniquely built web sites can create unique issues when being promoted on search engines. From a basic 3 page brochure site to a corporate site with hundreds of dynamically generated pages, every web site needs to have certain design aspects in order to achieve full effects of an SEO campaign. Below are a few points to take into consideration when building or updating your web site.
1. Size Matters. The size of a web site can have a huge impact on search engine rankings. Search engines love content, so if you have only a few pages to your site and your competitors have dozens, it's difficult to see a top page ranking for your site. In some cases it may be difficult to present several pages of information about your business or products, so you may need to think about adding free resources for visitors. It will help in broadening scope of your web site (which search engines like) as well as keep visitors on your site longer, possibly resulting in more sales.
2. Graphics-Based Web Sites. While web sites that offer visitor a more esthetically-pleasing experience may seem like best choice for someone searching for your product, they are most difficult to optimize. Since search engine robots cannot read text within graphics or animation, what they see may be just a small amount of text. And if we learned anything from point #1, small amounts of content will not result in top rankings. If you really must offer visitor a graphics-heavy or Flash web site, consider creating an html-based side of your site that is also available to visitors. This site will be much easier to promote on search engines and your new found visitors will also have option to jump over to nicer looking part of your site.
3. Dynamic Web Pages. If most of your web site is generated by a large database (such as a large book dealer with stock that is changing by minute) you may find that some of your pages do not get indexed by major search engines. If you look at URL of these pages they can be extremely long and have characters such as ?, #, &, %, or = along with huge amounts of seemingly random numbers or letters. Since these pages are automatically generated by database as needed, search engines have a tough time keeping them up to date and relevant for search engine users.
One way to combat this problem is to offer a search engine friendly site map listing all your static pages just to let them know that you do have permanent content on your site. If search engines see links going to and from these dynamic pages within a good internal linking system, this may also lead to pages getting indexed. The link popularity of your site may carry more weight in this case as well, so if you can't offer as much static content as your competition, make sure you have an aggressive link campaign on go.
4. Proper Use of HTML. There is quite a bit of sub-par web design software out there. Word processors usually have a way to create HTML documents which can be easily uploaded to a site via ftp. However, in many cases code that search engine robots see is mostly lines and lines of font and position formatting, not relevant content. The more efficiently written web sites usually achieve higher rankings. Our choice for web design software is Macromedia Dreamweaver, as it is an industry standard. It also makes using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) a breeze, which can drastically cut down on amount of text formatting in HTML code. Hand-coding HTML to design sites is also a good method if you are proficient enough.
Google’s Suggestion Beta Search – New SEO & Webmaster Wonder Tool or Over Rated Popularity Meter.Written by James R. Sanders
With Google’s release of their new Beta Google Suggest site, many SEO’s are jumping on bandwagon to preach praises about Google Lab’s latest breakthrough. However, in a recent article published by Site Pro News by Mike Banks Valentine, noted SEO of SEOptimism.com, entitled “A is for Amazon, B is for Best Buy Google Suggest Feature”, Mr. Valentine would have us believe that “results” shown in Google Suggest are for number of SEARCHES conducted at Google for a given search term. I would have to disagree with him given research I’ve done behind ground breaking new tool. However, before I put cart before horse, maybe I should explain this new “tool” just in case you haven’t heard of it yet.
Google Suggestion Beta – Salvation for SEO’s & Webmasters or a Marginal Tool to Gauge Search Populatiry.
Google has finally rolled out a new tool touted as their latest breakthrough in logical search suggestion. In a nutshell, this tool follows your typing, letter by letter, and as you continue to formulate you search query, Google Suggest opens a drop down box of suggestions based on what it thinks you might be searching for. As you type each letter in your query window, Google Suggest continues to update list based on information you type. The Beta site is located at http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&complete=1. After reading Mr. Valentine’s article, I was quick to drop by Beta Site to check this new tool out. I thought to myself, “If this actually reports number of searches being done at Google for a particular search term or phrase, then boy is it going to be easy to evaluate best search terms to use when optimizing a page for Google.” I felt like a kid on Christmas morning running downstairs to see what Santa brought me.
The Investigation Begins – My Hopes Become Fears.
My first idea was to type web site design into search box query area. No sooner than I finished typing “web si”, up pops box listing “web site design” as top suggested pick, and results showing “22,600.000 results”. My first thought was “Holy crap, there’s THAT many searches being done at Google on web site design?” My next question was “Now I wonder if that is a month, to date since Google has been in operation, or what?” Soon after additional thought, my mind began to clear and horror struck me. The next question was “What if these are just number of matching results in Google database for search term web site design?” My hopes and dreams of a new tool to demystify Google search popularity began to disintegrate as my mind started to rationalize situation and ponder question further.
Comparing Suggestion Beta “Results” with Google SERP “Results”.
I decided to click top suggestion “web site design” and see what happened. As I looked at SERP, top line stated “Results 1 - 10 of about 32,700,000 for web site design. (0.22 seconds)”. At first, my hopes began to soar again as I pondered wonderful SEO opportunities. 32,700,000 does not match results of 22,600,000 reported in suggestion tool. There seemed to be hope, but then my mind started to wonder again. The next question I asked was “What if beta tool is using an older database than present database used to distribute Google’s main site results”. The horror sat in again as I sat there pondering my thoughts and possibilities. Logical reasoning sat in, and my hopes and dreams were dashed as a ship tossed into a rocky coast during a hurricane. 22,600,000 results a month would be an extremely odd amount of searches for term web site design even given number of webmasters and SEO’s that normally check that search term to see competition rankings. In addition, given closeness to regular SERP results for same search term, it just stands to reason that results are from an older database snap shot of web lab is using for testing beta release.