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Website Advice 2



Website Advice 2

3. Don’t engage a website designer without speaking to an SEO consultant.

OK, it seems like you shouldn’t get up in the morning without asking the search optimising guys first, but…

The main thing you have to realise is that today it doesn’t matter how good your products or services are, or how brilliant a deal you are giving your customers, or how marvellous your website is, or just about anything else - there will be no traffic on your website without good search engine optimising. The search engines put the food on your table, simple as that.

Of course, this means that for the best possible results you start with the SEO and then think about the rest; and that’s just pure and simple logic.

Web designers do the job none of the rest of us either like or can do properly: making a website look good. It’s much, much harder than you think, and only a pro can do it right. A ‘web designer’ could be a graphic artist, as he will be in one of the larger agencies; or he could actually be a misnamed website constructor; or he could be a combination of the two. Designers, naturally, are good at designing; and other issues often take second place.

Like the vast majority of other web professionals these days, in the main they are not really up to speed on SEO. By this we mean that designers, webmasters and so on, do not realise the issues that are now of vital importance in creating traffic. The science and art of search engine optimising has moved on so fast that many people are still three years or more behind. Search optimising is now such a vast and fast-moving field that you have to be working with it every day to be successful. There are more than a dozen specialities within SEO, so how it could be otherwise; and how non-professionals imagine they can cope is hard to understand.

You wouldn’t expect a one-Sunday-afternoon-a-month nuclear physicist or brain surgeon to be fully up with the game, and it looks as if search optimising is going the same way.

4. SEO for images

There are many issues within the orbit of web design / SEO blending, but the most obvious is the question of images. As far as most of us are concerned, a website needs plenty of images, graphics, photos, or whatever you want to use. This brightens up the page and creates a better viewing experience. But: you can go too far down this road and end up with all sugar and no meat.

Search engines are only interested in text - that’s all they can see. A spider (the search engine’s indexing bot) cannot see images, only text; and therefore only text has any value. Or to be precise, it has so much more value than images they are almost invisible.

In the business of traffic generation, photos are of no importance; but text is vital. The search engines completely disregard images, since their automated indexing tools cannot see them at all - they can only see and evaluate text. 'Content is King' is a saying we use; and it refers specifically to text content.

The worst websites (purely in terms of search results and therefore traffic, and leaving aside any other factors, and assuming an average-value business idea) would be firstly a website comprised entirely of Flash, which is almost invisible to most search engines; and then one of three pages, mainly images. The best would be one with a thousand pages of valuable reference material in text form, that contains information people from all around the world are continually searching for. It might of course be a little boring to view, but that is not the point.

The search engines place a value on websites, and provide search results to enquirers based on this value - which we call page rank, PageRank or PR. The specific term PageRank refers to Google, as it is their registered term, but they are of course not the only search engine to use it. Therefore, a website with a higher PR will be given higher priority in search results than a site with a lower rank. This has nothing to do with the quality of the products displayed or how well they are displayed. The key elements are links and text: the number of other websites that point to you as a useful resource, and 'rich copy' content. As an example of this, and provided they both had the same number of links, a website with two hundred pages on the manufacture of dogfood will rate more highly than a site with a thousand pages of historically important photographs, because of the importance of the text. Actually the subject of dogfood was carefully chosen there, because the content could easily be optimised to appeal to the huge international pets and animals search market...

This situation exists because the search engines see the Internet as an information resource, rather than a place to be entertained. Customers come to them for sources of information (as they see it).

So, having taken all that in, do you see the relevance to web designers? Let’s hope so! Firstly, no matter how smart the website is, it has to have text. This starts on the very first page: you need some text. If you don’t have any text, then you have very few opportunities for keywords, which are how searchers find you.

Images take second place when creating traffic on your site; for a business, therefore, images have much less importance than text. You should make sure your web designer takes this on board before a finger touches a keyboard, or rather a stylus touches a graphics tablet…

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