First off, what is SEO? Basically it is a way of optimizing your site so that it can perform well in search engines. Obviously the search engine king; Google is the main protagonist of SEO. Climbing up the rankings is the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) has become the life of many a web master, but could life be made easier by combining initial design and SEO to save time and money.
Many web designers have complained that SEO has “plagued” the ability to design websites that work well from a user perspective or an “Aesthetically pleasing” point of view. In some areas this it true, but can there be a cross over between the two, where a harmony and equilibrium can be found, in order to create the “ideal” site.
I am going to show you how SEO and design can work together, not only to create a perfectly operational SEO based site, but also a fetching and unique design.
I don’t really want to take any other sites to illustrate mistakes in designs and SEO, so instead I will take a site that I work on, and describe how things work. This site is a Diving holidays tour operator:
This site uses a very striking design with some very powerful features. However it is quite difficult to see how this site is separated unless we actually take it apart and have a look. So below is a framed diagram of this home page:
At the top of the site there is a very clearly labelled Navigation menu, with a drop down list for separated areas. Then below is a very striking banner image, however to utilise the SEO aspect of the site it has text overlaid to incorporate keywords.
The third section of this page clearly labels the sites top diving destinations, providing a usability perspective and the opportunity to naturally maintain some more keywords on the site. Mentioning destinations where diving is prolific gives the site more relevance and the opportunity to utilise the alt text in the images, and the header tags as well.
The next section is purely informational, which is one of the most important aspects of the site. The main advantage in having a CSS designed site is that you can quite easily and effectively layout the site exactly how you want. Some very good programming using Java Scripts and CSS can allow the site to be portrayed in almost anyway the owner wishes. Back to the informational part, you can see the text and the clear header tag as well, both using keywords in them. Many H1 tags across other websites will clearly label the term the owner is targeting. This one takes a more subtle approach using a more natural header. The Blog posts are a great way to bring in news snippets from other parts of the site, and also allow fresh content to be dragged onto the front page.
Next up is the footer sections, an easy way for people to quickly navigate to and from the site. This website allows users an easy way to travel through a website, but also to experience a very calm and pleasing design structure. If you visit the site you will notice that no Flash has been used and Java Script is the dominator for scrolling techniques. This site is only 1 year old and is already ranking number 3 for the term Diving Holidays. This shows the power of a well designed site with an SEO perspective placed behind it.