There are two fundamental factors that go into every good website appearance and performance in the search engines. Every site owner needs his or her site to look good. This ensures that visitors will stay on the page. But you also need search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure that those visitors arrive at your pages in the first place. Integrating these two essentials of a good website can be complicated, and sometimes compromises are necessary to achieve an optimal balance between the two.
Finding the balance between appearance and performance starts with SEO. If you don’t generate traffic, it doesn’t make any difference how beautifully you design your pages. The essential aspects of search engine optimization include linking between the pages of your site, backlinking to other sites, meta tagging, proper tagging of images, and keyword density. Each of these factors plays a role when you begin designing your site.
A successful site has to have enough content to allow for appropriately low keyword density. Unlike the ranking standards of the late’90s, search algorithms in 2009 penalize sites, and sometimes penalize them very severely, for cramming too many search terms into too little text. Content must long enough to dilute keyword density, but concise enough to hold visitor attention. It is also not possible to make use of every screen shot or image you might happen to have, no matter how attractive and beautiful they are, on every page, or even on every site. The search algorithms have not yet designed means of indexing images. Words, and not images, are what drive SEO. That is the reason every designer has to provide every site multiple pages with text that can be optimized.
The next step is to tag all the images you use on your website with the “alt” in HTML. Each and every image without exception must have this tag. The “alt” tag permits you to tell the web browser which text will pop up when visitors run their mouse over the image. It’s also essential to labe every image with an SEO-friendly title. For instance if your site is about swimming with dolphins and you use a picture of dolphins on a page, a name like dolphins. swimming.jpg is far more effective than 477876ACDAW.jpg. Keywords in the tags become keywords for your pages. Just be sure you do not make your pages too keyword-dense with image names, either.
Another vital step in search engine optimization is linking the various pages of your site. Visitors always appreciate internal navigation. The search engines also appreciate internal navigation, because internal links are places you can insert keywords that identify your pages. For instance, if you have a page called “White Sand Beaches” you can link to that page from every other page in your site with a link entitled “White Sand Beaches.” This way you not only tell all search engines have created a page, but you tell the search engines what the page is about.
The ultimate rule for integrating page design and SEO Keep it simple! Use flash only sparingly. Shun excessive images. Avoid complex design. Paying attention to these important rules will boost your freedom to do SEO. You don’t have to make your website anything other than attractive, you just need to do more with less.
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