Understanding Search-Engine Friendly Web Site Design

A large number of SEO professionals, web developers, advertisers and search engine marketers have different interpretations of the term “search-engine friendly web design”. In its most literal, 

face-value sense this notion means designing a website for search engines. In the same manner the term “search engine optimisation” is also largely misunderstood, as to many it seems to mean optimising your website for the commercial web search engines. In reality, these face-value misconceptions are so widespread that people still take SEO professionals for snake-oil salesmen who trick the search engines to get high rankings.

However, no matter what people may think, search engine friendly web design is the foundation of a successful SEO campaign, and it is of vital importance to have an SEO professional optimise your site for top search engines when it’s only on its initial stage of development.

Being SEO professionals, we view search-engine friendly design as designing a website for people who use search engines, and SEO – as optimising a website for people who use search engines. To sum up, a search-engine friendly web design implies a design that is friendly to BOTH humans and search engines.

It is a big mistake to design for search engines only. Here are a few tips for you on how to tell if an SEO professional develops sites for search engines only? Ask them about their perception of search-engine friendly design. You might hear over-generalised statements such as usability, crawlability, indexation, user experience, site architecture. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? An SEO professional who uses such complex words with confidence must know what they are talking about, right? Lots of SEO experts might know what search engines want, but since they often miss the other half of the definition – the human side – they are often clueless at understanding searcher goals, behaviours and expectations.

The Human Factor in Search-Engine Friendly Design

There are numerous web sites that have items in the wrong place, that is, the wrong site layout. Searchers have some fixed mental models where items should be placed on a web page, and if those items are not in the right place (or aren’t there at all) they spend less time completing the tasks you want them to complete and more time trying to figure out your website. And who has time today to figure out confusing web sites? No one, and this leads to your visitors eventually leaving your site.

Another very important aspect of web design is making sure your visitors find your site easy to navigate and to use. However, web-site navigation is a subject that many SEO experts fail to study. They just tend to think that most searchers instinctively know what is clickable and what is not. As website usability professionals we know that this is not true. We see people get lost and confused on websites all the time. And you know that happens most of the time when a web site is too confusing and difficult to navigate? People just leave.

To make a long story short, keep in mind that SEO is all about optimising for people who use search engines. A commercially successful, profit-making web site is designed, programmed and written with your target audience in mind – the people who use search engines.

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