We understand that as a designer, you hate to be told what to do or to be given guidelines to follow. While we don’t want to stop the creative juices, there are just a few things designers can keep in mind for the benefit of the website, more specifically, from an SEO point of view. We pen down for you some common issues with designing a website that can hinder SEO. Here’s what to avoid:
1) Replacing text with images
Text is still important. Sure, images are more attractive but if you want to boost your SEO, text is still the most easily comprehended by search engines.
Text is important for keywords which are the foundation for well optimized website. Although, you should be wary about using too many keywords as Google recognizes “keyword stuffing” as a black-hat tactic and will penalize a site by either demoting or not ranking your site at all.
If you however, you do insist on keeping images, ensure you provide ‘alt-text’ to your images. Assigning alt-text to your images in gifs, jpgs, pngs gives search engines a text description of visual content.
According to Google’s Ranking Algorithm, text accounts for 15%!
2) Lack of breadcrumbs
A common mistake designers make is to leave out breadcrumbs. A well designed breadcrumb tail would boost your website’s SEO. Text links are easily recognized by Google. Additionally, they provide a transparent hierarchical navigation which makes your website user friendly.
3) The m.yoursite.com Issue
Many designers & developers debate between building a mobile site and a responsive site. A responsive site might be a wiser alternative since a mobile site can end up dividing PageRank, reducing your overall website rank. This is primarily due to different URLs for the desktop and the mobile versions. In a responsive site, the use of the single URL cross platform ensures this does not happen.
4) Flash Elements
Flash is an SEO disaster. There are a bunch of problems associated with Flash:
- Search Engines cannot read them
- Users typically disable Flash players
- They aren’t mobile-friendly
HTML5 is a great alternative. It is SEO friendly & is successfully indexed by search engines.
5) Confusing & Improper URLs and File Names
A descriptive link not only is user-friendly, it is understood by search engines & contributes to your page ranking. Including descriptive words & keeping the URL short are essential things to keep in mind.
For example, http://www.books.com/top-10-best-books is much easier than http://www.books.com/top/f=38235FG not just for search engines but even for site visitors.
6) Overlooking the 404 Error
The 404 Error is possibly the worst thing that can happen to a developer. Or is it? Customisable 404 Errors can be designed to be extremely hilarious or creative. Although this may look like a doable, temporary solution, designers forget to add necessary elements even in this. Navigation elements like a link back to your website might not only improve user experience but also improve SEO. A failure to do so reflects as broken links to a search engine.
We leave you with some of the most creative 404 page designs. Check them out!
We’d love to hear from you. Share your inputs in the comments below!