Manning Search Marketing

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This article touches on some common  web Design Mistakes that are sometimes encountered with a design. These suggestions are aimed for Improved Optimization.

After I initially designed my website, I thought this would be a good time to touch on designing a search engine friendly site. This is a very important stage, and its important that your newly built website will not need to have any major changes just to make it search engine friendly.

Before I started working in the search marketing industry back in April 2000, I have designed a few sites, for myself, for friends and for businesses. In the beginning, I fell for the same trap that most web designers do. The splash pages and framed websites. To a web designer, a splash page this gives them a chance to display their artistic and creative abilities. From a search marketing point of view, it is easy to see the big picture and notice that having a splash page with huge graphics and flash with very little or no content is not going to help the site achieve great marketing success on the internet. But from a web design view, having a splash page looks visually appealing and often the client is very happy with it.

The Problems with Splash Pages

The problem with splash pages is that it provides hardly any content for the users or the search engines, and there is usually only one link/path into the entire site. So, the users and search engine spiders have to make an addition click (sometimes two clicks or more) to get to the actual content. The more clicks a user has to make in order to get to the goods that you want them to see, the more likely they will go back to the search results page and continue on to the next site.

Search engines generally consider the main page (ie default/index for example) to be the most important page on your site. We always want to use this to our advantage. So, if you have a splash page on your site, it would be highly advised that you have this updated and have the actual page that you want your visitors to see (the actual content) when they come to your site.
Search Engine Friendly Websites

Ideally, you want the very first page on your site to have all the info that the user and search engines will need. That includes a proper navigation and content.

So, for marketing your business online. You still want to have a visually appealing website, but you also want it to be search engine friendly. Having the best of both worlds will provide to be a great asset to helping your online business succeed in today’s competitive market. You want your site to instill confidence to your potential customer. Its important to have a site that makes your potential customer want to buy from you.
Using Flash

It is still ok to use flash on your site, but not have your entire site done in flash. If you do have your site entirely done in flash, you will want to have a HTML version done up ASAP! Don’t forget people that are on dialup, and people that don’t have the flash plug-in installed, there’s a good chance they’ll click the back button and leave your site.

As always moderation is the key. This goes with graphics as well. We do not want to have the site too heavy in graphics. You still have to consider that a large number of people are still using dialup connection and we do not want to have a site that loads slowly. Having this happen can result in the visitor hit the back button and continue on the the next site.

One thing to note is that apple iphones, ipads, and ipod touch are not flash friendly.
Drop Down Menus

Search engine spiders cannot follow the links in drop down menus. So if you do have drop down menus on your site, you will need to incorporate some text links on your site to make sure that the search engines can fully index your site.

Avoid Using Frames if Possible

If at all possible, try to avoid using frames when building out your site. Typically what happens is the sub-page with the content is the one that starts to ranking and get traffic, and they are left without the navigation on the other frames pages.

Indexable Content

Always make sure that you have enough content on your homepage, and also make sure that the content you do have, can be read by the search engines. Content within images will not get indexed within the search engines, and this will provide you with little search engines help. While the design, look and feel might be what you are aiming for, having your content within an image will  not give you have advantage over your competition. Keep your main content out of the images.

Flash/Java Plugins

I have seen in the past, sites that have all their content within a flash file or Java Plugin, and when investigating further, finding out that the content was not even getting indexed by Google. I have seen other SEO competitors fall into this little trap with their own websites. While the design looked great, their content was not getting indexed. Always test flash and java if you have the bulk of your content within these files/plugins. Make sure that your content is getting crawled and indexed by the search engines.

Audio and Video Content

If you have and audio and/or video content that you post on your website, one of the best things you could do is have it transcribed and include the text onto your website. This is a great source of content that you can be adding to your site to gain additional traffic.

Always Get Advice

Lets say you found a web designer that you like, it is still a very good idea to hire a search marketing consultant/company to help you along with the process. The majority of search marketing firms will gladly consult you through the development of your site (there will usually be a fee involved). Making sure that your site is search engine friendly from the get go, will save you money and time.

Test It Out! See how your Splash or Frames page looks to the Search Engines

Lynx Viewer – use this program to spider your splash or frames page to see what the search engines will see. Generally we like the search engines to spider content, and with splash or frames pages, this poses a problem, but the good news is that it is generally an easy fix!