SEO and Site Architecture – developing search engine friendly websites

You are looking at creating an online presence, revamp an existing site or just want something fresh and innovative but are not sure what design or structure to follow?
With a number of choices available deciding which firm to use for a small business website development service or an ecommerce website development service is another area of concern. Added to this is the awareness that the design and the site coding must be in accordance with search engine crawlability. Well here is a simple tip – Keep it Simple – SEO is just an extension of the best practices of web design. Identify these with the firm you choose to carry out your website development services.

What is common between good SEO and good design is simple navigation and simple architecture. In other words make it easy to find information on your site. Let the important pages be no more than 2 clicks away from the main page. Keep pages as close to the root as possible by avoiding deep sub-directories. Keep in mind that what works for Users works well for Search Engines.

Stuck on Navigation! top, left or right? A top navigation is the most common pattern followed. It is most natural to use the top bar for the first level of navigation as the numbers of items placed on the top bar are normally fixed. The second level which would normally hold the services or products works well as a second top bar or a side bar. In either case keep the important pages no more than 2 clicks away from the Home page.

Using drop down boxes is not very user friendly as unless a user clicks on the text link the destination page is not known at all. For deeper navigation it is good to follow breadcrumb navigation. Breadcrumb trail is the part of the navigation that shows you where you are currently with respect to the site hierarchy and structure. This is useful both from the perspective of search engines as well as from a human visitor point of view – as breadcrumbs let you see how far from the root is the destination page.

If there is a lot of information to present it is better to split the information – this keeps the amount displayed limited to a single page which encourages users to read the page as well as search engines to crawl the page faster.

If graphics are used keep those limited to certain sections of the site. This allows the page to load faster – allowing for users to stay on the page rather than make an early exit. If you have added links, within images also make sure that these are repeated as text links on the same page. This increases the relevancy of the page for both human visitors and search engines.

Keep the code short. If Java script is being used make sure it is called externally. Search engines cannot follow JavaScript’s. If you offload JavaScript and CSS code, it provides easier access and a better load time. Avoid using frames. If it is really necessary to use frames then create a NOFRAMES version of your site. Search engines avoid frames. Restrict the use of flash, QuickTime or other plug-ins on your HTML pages.

There are a few other areas which should not be overlooked. Check the way the files within your site are named. Keep this name relevant to what the page is about and the page will hold well for both search engines and visitors. It is a good idea to keep the same keyword for naming the files and the keywords selected for the page title. Many websites choose dynamic content over static content. Even for dynamic sites the Urls displayed should appear as static. For a visitor to understand what the page is about, it makes better sense to display a page as: www.abc/services/service1.htm rather than a string of characters such as: www.abc/services/thread.php?threadid=12345&sort=date.

The visitor is more likely to click on a static url as it makes sense as against a dynamic url which looks vague. Furthermore Static URLs are typically ranked better in search engine results pages, and they are indexed more quickly than dynamic URLs. In addition keep the url keyword rich.

When working on the layout of a landing page to keep the following in mind:

Identify the most important elements for the site. These are the elements that you want to focus or target. These elements need to be placed somewhere on the top half of the page rather than on the bottom.

Identify what is it that you want the visitor to do on the site. For example if you are offering a free report, or you want to aim at getting newsletter subscriptions etc. – Instead of writing long sentences – keep words to a minimum, highlight these in a way to draw attention. These should enable the visitors to take action. Besides highlighting use of contrast also draws attention.

Use the right medium to display your message. If graphics are used make sure these portray what the site and page are about. An image is a representation of your business – make sure that the images used across the site are consistent with each other.

Make sure your words describe what you are, what you stand for, what is being offered on the webpage. This helps both visitors and search engines to understand what your webpage is about.

Keep information simple and easy to present. Display information only if it worth a read. Having a News section with only one or two headlines is hardly of interest to anyone. Make sure you remove outdated information. Provide error pages where necessary

Keeping these parameters in account can help you decide in choosing the right website design firm to create landing pages designed for better conversions.

For more information on website design services visit: http://www.cranvas.com/website-design-services.htm

About the Author

Sabinder Kaur is the Director of Cranvas (www.cranvas.com) that provides custom website development services, website design and SEO services. To get more information on web development services please visit: http://www.cranvas.com/website-development-services.htm