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Search Engine Optimization Design Guidelines

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by | Filed Under: Web Design

In the harsh world of search engine optimization, if you’re not first, you’re last!!!

In the Search Engine Optimization 101 tip, we looked at the need and importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In this tip, we’ll look at some design guidelines that’ll help search engines find, index, and rank your website efficiently. The goal is to be ranked in the first page results.

Pre-requisite to SEO
Optimizing websites for search engines only makes sense after you’ve designed the site for high usability. This is because website visitors scamper from poor user experiences. Therefore, ensure your website provides a great user experience before you decide to optimize it. Read the Usability 101 and Usability 201 tips for more information on how to make a website usable.

Guideline 1: Create a Site Rich with Information
People visit your website for a service. As part of this service, there is information transfer that occurs. To search for a particular service or information, people type in criteria in a search engine. This criteria are called keywords. The search engine then locates websites that contain the keywords you have specified. Let’s take an example.

Suppose a person is looking for a closet light. She might type keywords, such as Closet Light, Fluorescent Closet Light, or 6” Fluorescent Closet Light. The search results for each of these keywords is different, as shown below.

Closet Light

6” Fluorescent Closet Light

It is more difficult to rank in the first page with broad keywords, such as Light and Closet Light. This is because there are more sites competing on those keywords. Therefore, you should optimize your site for specific keywords, such as Fluorescent Closet Light. After you’ve thought of the specific keywords a potential visitor will type in a search engine, the information or content in your site should include those exact keywords.

Having said that, don’t include too many instances of these keyword phrases because it reduces readability and simply annoys the person visiting your website. So, even though your site is ranked in the first page, it won’t produce higher sales because the visitor will perceive your website to have information that is not useful.

Guideline 2: Use Accurate and Descriptive Titles
Every website page has an HTML title. The Title is what is found in the top right hand corner of the window, as highlight in the screen grab below. The keyword phrases you’ve chosen should also appear in the Title tag for search engines to locate your website.


For example, if you type Search Engine Optimization 101 in Google, you’ll notice that the WorldStart Search Engine Optimization 101 tip is not displayed in the first page. However, if you type “Search Engine Optimization Computer Tip” or “Search Engine Optimization 101 Computer Tip”, then it is ranked number 1 (see below). This happens because as the search engine crawls the web looking for web pages that contain the keywords you’ve specified, it comes across fewer web pages. The Title must be adequately descriptive.


Guideline 3: Use Text
When search engines crawl a web page for keywords, they do not understand the text written in the images. Keywords should always be written in text. Also, when you use images, specify the keywords and some descriptive text in the ALT attribute.

Generic Website Design Guidelines
Mentioned below are a few website design guidelines that you should never forget:

– Your site should have a hierarchy and text links.
– Check for broken links and correct HTML.
– Every page of your website should be accessible from at least one static text link.
– Limit the links on a given page to fewer than 100

~Rupen Sharma

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