Tips for SEO Web Design and Site Architecture
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• The code used to design and develop your site can help or hinder your search engine optimization efforts.
• The way you structure the content on your site is a large part of your SEO strategy.
• Don’t forget about the back-end of your site as an important part of its SEO health.
You have a website that you’re pretty proud of. It’s beautiful in every way (and of course, “perfect” to you because it’s your baby). But you’ve decided it’s time to really focus on SEO and you’re not quite sure what the beginning steps are for restructuring and redesigning your site in a way that’s SEO friendly.
And once you start really examining the structure, design and the back end of your site, you’re finding out that beautiful, perfect baby is actually really ugly and stinky. And an ugly, stinky baby = big, messy problem for SEO.
In this post, we’ll take a very high-level look at some of things you want to address to make sure your site is set up for SEO.
Designing/Developing Sites for SEO
- Make your code as clean as possible for the spiders to crawl quickly. You want to avoid code bloat when designing and developing your site. The more you can simplify and streamline the code, the better. It’s helpful to understand basic HTML so you can identify unnecessary tags. Software like Adobe Dreamweaver can help you clean up your code.
- One way to ensure your code is clean is to validate by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. Web pages that are W3C compliant are considered to be healthy and spiderable by the search engines. Run the validator and address the important errors. W3C also provides tools to validate CSS, so you can see if any design elements are causing issues. Use the data provided by this tool plus your wisdom to decide which errors to address that may be affecting the health of your site and SEO.
- If you’re just starting out and haven’t designed the site yet, consider developing in HTML5. The functionality of HTML5 offers sleek presentation – the type that many aim to achieve with software like Adobe Flash, but HTML5 is much more SEO friendly.
Website Content Architecture
- Designing a site for SEO starts with your content structure. As we’ve been saying for years, content is at the heart of your SEO efforts. Architect the site by categorizing your content into themes, which will ultimately serve as your navigation. The architecture of the site is driven by both user experience and keyword research. You want to design the site in a way that’s set up to be found for the queries your target audience is using when looking for products and services similar to yours. Then you want to deliver the most relevant and useful information on those topics. Learn more about this by reading our content on theming a site through siloing.
- Since the navigation helps to clearly communicate to both your users and the search engines what the site is about, the nav structure needs to be clear and easy to follow. It needs to be both user-friendly and allow the search engine spiders to crawl with ease, associating related topics together in a cohesive manner. You also want to make your navigation elements crawlable, so creating them in text is useful since you’ll also likely be using keywords in your nav.
- Individual Web page construction is important, too. Ensure your Head section that contains your Meta tags (Title, Description and Keywords) is at the top of the page, so it’s one of the first pieces of code the spider encounters. You want to, as quickly as possible, convey to the spider what the page is about. Use CSS positioning for tags to reorder the code if it looks as if other mounds of code are piled on top of the Head section (such as navigation or design code).
- Check to see if your server is in good health. You need a server that is going to deliver your site quickly to the user. Site speed is a confirmed ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Try our free site checker tool to see how yours stacks up.