Why should a designer learn about SEO?
• Keep in mind that SEO is not only for online professionals. Making an on-site SEO is your job as a web designer or developers.
• Making a site search engine friendly will help you to drive a lot of traffic to your site. After direct traffic and backlinks referrals, search engine is the only way for peoples to find your site.
• Search engine is commonly used by a potential user. So your site may help him for a topic and he might become a loyal visitor to your site.
• When you become an expert in SEO you can sell your skill in market as a extensive service. Because SEO is often used as value-added service.
The fundamentals: How search engines work?
Each search engine uses an automated algorithm program called as “Web Spider” or often “Web Crawler”. The main task of this program is crawls the web pages, read and collect content from them, and follow the both external and internal links. Then it submits this collected database to a index (search engine’s database). When user submits a query to a search engine, the search engine finds the most relevant results matching to the query from the information in its index. Search engine depends on an algorithm which determines that how well you have been answered when you perform a search. This algorithm is actually a set of factors that the search engine uses to say “hey is this page RELEVANT or NOT?” The higher your page indexed for these factors, the higher your page will get displayed in the search engine result pages.
Your task as a search engine optimizer
Every search engine has its own algorithm. SEO expert is hired for resolving the factors that influence the algorithm can affect your search result position. SEO job has two phases i.e. On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO.
1. On-Site SEO: This includes things which you can do on your site such as – site structure, HTML markup, internal linking, keyword targeting etc.
2. Off-Site SEO: These are things which you do not or less have control such as – backlinks, linking to your site etc.
We have focused on on-site SEO as this guide is for web designers and developers. Remember that if you have right and unique contents, beautiful design you have done well in off-site SEO phase. You will surely get backlinks and social bookmarking.
Top SEO mistake made by web designers and developers
1) Splash page
If you have a big banner image and a link “Click here to enter site” on your homepage, then you are doing a huge mistake. Worst is happened when it is embedded in a flash object that is nearly impossible for spiders to crawl. Homepage is a highest ranking page of website and is frequently crawled by search engine spiders. Until you do a proper linking structure to internal pages, your internal pages will not appear in an index database of search engine. Hence Homepage should include keyword targeting and proper link structure to important pages.
2) Non-spiderable flash menus
Flash menus are used by many web designers. They seem cool but they can’t crawl by search engines. Thus links in these menus can’t be followed by search engine and become useless.
3) Image and flash content
Text embedded in graphic contents can’t be read by web spiders, because they are simply text-based. And most of web designer make a same mistake by embedding vital contents like targeted keywords in a Flash or image objects.
4) Unfriendly URL
Use friendly URL as they as good for both human and search engines. And include relevant keywords according to topic into them.
5) Empty image alt attribute
Images are blank space for search engines. So always use alt attribute for image. This will improve your ranking of image search result.
6) Overuse of Ajax
Ajax contents are loaded dynamically, hence are not indexable by search engines.
7) “Click Here” link anchor text
Many people use a “Click here” or “Read more” as a linking text. This is absolutely right in SEO only if you want to rank your page for a keyword like these two. Better way is to use relevant keyword within link such as – “Read more about [targeted keyword]”. Remember that do not use exactly same anchor text everywhere on your site. This sometimes treated as a spam.
8) Common title tag mistakes
Same or similar title text:
If you use same or similar title tags within entire site, search engine will determines that your site includes same topic and is not unique than others.
Exceeding the 65 character limit:
Long post titles are useless. You should have title about 65 characters including spaces.
Keyword stuffing the title:
Do not overuse keywords. Use similar or relevant keywords in a title tag.
9) Versioning of theme design
Versioning a web theme into a sub level folders and redirecting to the new folder, makes URL constantly changing. This may lose your backlinks and ranking.
Common SEO – best practices
1) Don’t disregard your audience
Take a survey of your audience by performing a poll, scanning relevant forums, do a keyword research through free keyword tools (Google Keyword Tool or SEO Book’s Keyword Tool) etc. Then write about issue which matters more for your readers.
2) Think about keyword density
Keyword density is a keyword occurances in a page compared to the total number of words. You have to make sure that your keyword must appear in following essential ares:
• Title Tag
• Page URL (friendly URL)
• Main Heading (H1 or H2)
• First paragraph of content.
• At least 3 times in the body content (depending on a size of content)
You have to use your keywords in such a ways that it seem to be natural writing. If you are using a keyword phrase like “SEO for Web Designers and Web Developers”, then it is not a natural way to appear it many times in your article. Also, remember that excessive use of similar keywords in page is panelized by search engine for keyword stuffing.
3) Don’t ignore relations
Use other keywords and topics that make logic to your readers. The search engines also can compute keyword relations to decide relevancy too.
4) Don’t be scared of internal linking
Use sitemap or blog archive that links to all pages on your site or blog. So that search engine crawler can see your every page. If you want to support more vital pages, then you can insert links within body content by using anchor tag of similar keywords.
5) Don’t underestimate broken links
Use robots.txt to prevent crawlers from crawling and indexing your broken links. You can also use 301.htaccess to redirect to a new URL. For this utilize the Google Webmaster Tool to find and replacing broken links.
6) Be constituent with domain URL
Search engine consider a www and non-www as two dissimilar URLs. So keep your domain structure steady.
7) Use semantic coding
Use standard and semantic coding for allowing the web spider to read webpage better.
8) Search result ranking
There is no guarantee that you site will appear on the top of SERP (Search Engine Result Page); although you make your site SEO friendly. There are many factors that determine search position of your site. Among them “PageRank” and domain age are most important.
PageRank is the factor that tells you how importatnt your website is for Google. If you follow the tips given above, your PageRank will dfinetely get improved.
Old domain with good history is ranked higher than newer domain.
9) Be Patience
If you done every single thing well and still your site is not showing in search ranking for targeted keywords; then just be patient. Because everything takes time for work done especially for new domain. Also, it could be also another reason that the keywords you are trying can have high competition.
Resources to help you
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools allow you to view statics of your site. You can check following details:
• Last Googlebot crawl time
• External link calculation
• HTTP errors
• 404 Not Found errors
• Keywords used for linking to your site
• Top Search Queries
Free SEO tools
Here is the list of free SEO tools to check your Link Popularity, PageRank, Keyword Relevancy, SERP Position etc.
If you want to learn more about SEO then following are some resources:
SEO is the long process. It is not done within short amount of time. So do everything well according to these tips and do not lose your patience. All these SEO tips I have share in this SEO guide are based on my self-experience and knowledge of web design. And I hope that these will help you also.