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Designing Websites for Search Engines

Of the many groups of visitors who will come to your website, arguably the most important group is one that is not always obvious and not even human: search engine spiders.

Ignore them at your peril: even the fanciest and slickest looking pages can have little value to you if no one can find them, while even a webpage that is little more than a glorified business card could prove much more valuable — if it appeared at the top of your potential visitors’ online searches.

SEO: The Art of Optimizing Webpages for Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization (known as “SEO”) is the skill and art of optimizing webpages to obtain the highest possible position on search engine results pages. Making your pages ‘understandable’ and attractive to search engine spiders — the robotic algorithm programs which ‘crawl’ through websites and index and rate the pages they find — is a hugely important component of web design.

Search engine spiders don’t view the same page that you see. They evaluate the code which your page is built from. And just as your visitors evaluate your website based on all sorts of different references and assumptions and knowledge which they may bring with them, search engines evaluate your site based on their own set of assumptions. They are very smart, but very limited.  Obvious assumptions for humans may not be obvious to algorithms.

The World According to Google

Search engines look for very specific bits of information to be present in specific places within your code in order to ‘understand’ what your page is about. It is up to you and your web designer to explain to the spiders, in terms that they will understand, that your webpage is ‘about’ the specific words that you expect your visitors to be searching for.

Large companies and organizations that depend upon their websites as an integral part of their business sometimes hire a second company, aside from their web design company, just to handle their search engine optimization, and an entire industry exists for this purpose. But whether you hire an SEO firm, rely on your web design company for your SEO needs, or manage your own search engine optimization campaign with the help and guidance of your web designer, the first and most important step is to make sure that your pages are well designed to fit into your SEO strategy from the beginning.

Planning your SEO Strategy

Your web designer will work with you to establish baseline information that will underlie your search engine strategy. After identifying the visitor groups who will be visiting your site, your designer will help you to identify the search terms that those visitors might enter into Google or Bing and help you to understand what will be necessary to make your site appear in their search results.

Pages that are built to highlight those terms will help the spiders to understand that your page is a good match for people using one of your targeted search terms. Your designer can also help you to make sure your site appears to be ‘authoritative’ and relevant to the search engines.

SEO and Your Budget

It’s hard to “see” the optimization that goes into a webpage, and website owners are cautious about spending money on things which they can’t see. Sometimes, you need to spend a lot — but not always. We’ll teach you enough about SEO so that you can make the right choices. At a minimum, we’ll always help you to understand the basics of SEO — and more if you’d like — so that you can make decisions on how much optimization is appropriate for your project. We can also help you to decide on an appropriate amount of optimization for your budget, help you to get the most bang out of your dollar, train you to create your own ‘link building’ campaign and much more.

Our goal is to give you the information you’ll need to make the best decisions for your website, and help you to reach the SEO goals you’ll set.