Plan A Website Design Strategy To Include Search Engine Marketing

The phrase “web design strategy” means different things to different people, and involves a lot more than just the design decisions. The term seems to imply that it is all about colour, page layout and the use of Flash animations. These factors are part of the big picture, but the bigger picture is about the overall web design.

One needs to find out how the website overall architecture will affect its visibility to the major search engines. Specific web page elements like the navigation and technologies used like CSS or JavaScript can either interfere with or help a search engine’s ability to “spider and rate the website. Sometimes an element can do both, at the same time!

A high ranking in the Google results is useless if site visitors aren’t being converted into buyers. A successful site architecture and web design strategy will address the needs of both the search engines and your visitors/customers.

Directory setups
Generally speaking, the pages in or nearest the root directory are the most important pages of your site. Essentially, by placing them near the root you are telling the search engines your priorities, strengths, and focus. One of the SEO myths is that search bots won’t “crawl farther down that a third subdirectory. This is not true nowadays. As long as related pages are linking with each other in a spider-friendly way, the search engines will keep on searching. Many experts in the field recommend that the most important pages be kept in the root directory.

Navigation is key

A key element of your website design is the navigation. Sets of buttons are generally friendlier than pull-down menus (DHTML), but plain old hypertext links are even friendlier than those buttons. While it is true that these text links are easiest for programmers to format, the website design must consider the preferences of the end users, not the site designers or owners.

File names, directories, URL’s

When queried on which URL is more memorable – domain.com/car/seats.html or domain.com/carseats.html – more than 90 percent of people in an online survey reported preferring the one without the subdirectory. A surplus of “forward slashes” is a common complaint heard by website designers who take the time to check in with actual users.

Many SEM experts create extra subdirectories as a means of adding another keyword in a URL, assuming that it will help ranking. It is fairly well established that keyword-rich title tags are far more beneficial than keyword-rich URL’s. Never forget for whom you are creating those URL structures. It’s the users. URLs that are easy for users to remember are also easy for them to pass on to others.

Web page categories

Some usability professionals have broken web pages down into seven specific types, while others assert that there are 11, or an even dozen, or more. The actual number is not really that important. The knowledge to take away is that there are different types of pages that SEM-oriented web strategies must consider. Which ones you will employ depends both on your type of business and your approach. And how you will conceive, design and promote each web page will depend to a great extent on the type of page that it is.

Some web page types are home page, category/gallery page, advertising (landing) page, product page, news/media page, form page, services page, shopping cart page, search/results page and “credibility page. Each one naturally requires a different approach. It would be silly to optimize your product page the very same way you optimize some other kind of page, since optimization and design strategies differ according to many factors, not the least of which are the calls to action (CTAs) for each page type.

Layout, look and feel

Naturally, layout strategies will be as varied as the different page types, and a product page will not work according to the same principles as a news page. Of course, you also have to have an integrated and consistent overall design. When you are planning for a site, you need to focus not just on the overall effect, but all the individual ones that are put into play on each page. There must be some overarching sense to the site, while still allowing for differences at the page level.

Successful website design and web strategy entails issues of language, design, colour, shape, layout, look and feel. The strategy must make sense while allowing for sufficient flexibility and creativity “along the way.” Certainly you want to improve the ability of search engines to access your keyword-rich content, but the bottom line is that you want to increase those site conversions.

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