As one of the most powerful search engines on the web, Google affects the way most professional web developers approach custom web design. After all, Google plays such an important role to the Internet that it is not uncommon to hear people use the company’s name as a verb such as “I Googled (pick a topic) and found out…” Consequently, to design a website without keeping Google and other search engines in mind is counterproductive. But what does it mean to design for Google or other search engines? Is there some secret code you must have? No, there is no special code you must use when designing a web site for search engines; however, there are several key areas where you will want to focus to make sure search engines can properly index your site, which promotes the best placement for your pages in search engine results.
Good Tactics for Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Many elements such as code and content optimization, meta tags, nofollow links and link building are critical in ranking well in search engines. However, unless you are a professional web developer, these terms may seem more like web gobbledygook. If you have followed web-related news, then you are aware of how often Google’s search ranking algorithms change , even just in recent months. In fact, according to Google, there is an average of at least one change per day to its search algorithms. So what can you do to ensure that you design for Google SEO elements? Here are 15 steps you can take:
- Content – Be sure that your web content is up to date and that you are frequently adding new and original content that contains the search terms relevant to your website. Be sure to link internally from indexed pages, in addition to syndicating it on social media sites.
- MetaTags – Don’t overlook the value of meta tags. Be sure your meta descriptions are unique to each page and function as a call to action and even though the Meta keywords tag is not emphasized by search engines anymore, it doesn’t hurt to use those either. Of course, don’t overdo it with keywords as this frowned upon by search engines.
- Page titles – As these are displayed in search engine results and are regarded highly by search engines as to what your page is about, it is critical that page titles are relevant, concise and contain keywords.
- Header tags – Properly using header tags such as H1, H2 or H3 to help search engines locate key points within your text.
- ALT attributes – A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you fail to use keywords in your source code text, people are unlikely to see your pics showing up in their search results.
- Sitemap – This is an essential part of your web design. By having a HTML sitemap with an XML sitemap file, you are helping users and Google find all the pages on your site, regardless of the structure or navigation.
- URLs – Using keywords in URLs will improve search engine rank. Make sure these words represent your site well. Simple to understand URLs will explain content information easily.
- Advertising – By signing up with Google AdWords, you can display your own advertisement within Google search results, thus reaching across the Google advertising network. These advertisements are “pay per click.” When you are designing for Google AdWords, you can choose what keywords will result in triggering your ad and how much you will pay per click. These two factors determine the ads frequency and prominence.
- User experience – Google may not give high page rank to sites that are difficult to navigate, have slow page loading and poor page designs. When designing for Google, be sure to have fast page loads, low bounce rates, good user interface, alignment between the keywords you target and easy navigation.
- Spread the net – Just as in the capital investment world advisors recommend diversification, when designing for Google you need to use multiple formats to deliver your content on the same site. Whether it is video, images, blog posts, etc. the more ways you can incorporate long tail key words, the better your site will rank.
- Notify Google of your mobile site; if you have a news site, be sure it is registered on the Google News Index.
- Compatibility with updated technology – Keep up to date with the latest in technology. Whether it is creating a site that is mobile market friendly or employing the latest in web design elements, be sure your site is up to date.
Bad Practices of SEM
With all these elements in place, having a search engine-friendly web site is easily accomplished. Be sure you don’t self-destruct by employing unfriendly web design elements. Here are 3 tactics that can cause your demise on Google:
- Duplicate content– Make sure that you do not incorporate the same content on your website over and over, verbatim. Search engines may see that as being spammy and downgrade your ranking.
- Buying links – It’s important to hav links from other websites that point to yours. But, when you buy a link from someone else, particularly when you are buying a LOT of links from a link broker, Google can see that as an artificial attempt to manipulate your ranking, and downgrade your ranking.
- Cloaking or key word stuffing – Don’t try to pack keywords into your content. Be aware of keywords you are trying to optimize for and use them, but use them judiciously where it makes sense…using them too often can cause Google to downgrade your rank. Also, a practice known as cloaking is frowned upon. That is when you try to add key phrasews to a page but hide them from the website visitor by doing thinks like using white text on a white background. That is a big no-no.
These actions can be detrimental to your site. Be cautious in how you pursue a high-ranking website. Designing for search engines means recognizing and addressing elements like SEO, Google Analytics, and other tactics and tools. So, if a custom web design is in your future, and you are not as web savvy as you would like, hire a professional web developer. If you have questions, talk to the professional web designers here at Page Progressive.