10 Excellent SEO Tips That Will Improve Your Web Design

Mar 15 2011 by Adam Heitzman | 69 Comments

10 Excellent SEO Tips That Will Improve Your Web Design

A great website design is important to any business trying to find success online, but if a website doesn’t have a chance at good search rankings, very few people may ever get to see it. To avoid having a website that is not search engine friendly, you simply need to take into consideration some basic SEO principles and good content development practices.

As a web designer, I put a lot of thought into what issues I have encountered and issues I have heard others deal with when building websites with SEO in mind. Here are 10 great SEO tips that can lead you to a more search engine friendly web design without sacrificing your creativity and style.

1. Make Sure Your Site Navigation Is Search Engine Friendly

Using Flash for navigation on your website can be bad news if you aren’t aware of how to make Flash objects accessible and web-crawler-friendly. Search engines have a really tough time crawling a website that uses Flash.

CSS and unobtrusive JavaScript can provide almost any of the fancy effects you are looking for without sacrificing your search engine rankings.

2. Place Scripts Outside of the HTML Document

When you are coding your website, make sure you externalize JavaScript and CSS.

Search engines view a website through what’s contained in the HTML document. JavaScript and CSS, if not externalized, can add several additional lines of code in your HTML documents that, in most cases, will be ahead of the actual content and might make crawling them slower. Search engines like to get to the content of a website as quickly as possible.

3. Use Content That Search Engine Spiders Can Read

Content is the life force of a website, and it is what the search engines feed on. When designing a website, makes sure you take into account good structure for content (headings, paragraphs, and links).

Sites with very little content tend to struggle in the search results and, in most cases, this can be avoided if there is proper planning in the design stages. For example, don’t use images for text unless you use a CSS background image text replacement technique.

4. Design Your URLs for Search Friendliness

Search friendly URLs are not URLs that are hard to crawl, such as query strings. The best URLs contain keywords that help describe the content of the page. Be careful of some CMS’s that use automatically generated numbers and special code for page URLs. Good content management systems will give you the ability to customize and "prettify" your website’s URLs.

5. Block Pages You Don’t Want Search Engines Index

There could be pages on your site that you don’t want search engines to index. These pages could be pages that add no value to your content, such as server-side scripts. These web pages could even be pages you are using to test your designs as you are building the new website (which is not advised, yet many of us still do).

Don’t expose these web pages to web robots. You could run into duplicate content issues with search engines as well as dilute your real content’s density, and these things could have a negative effect on your website’s search positions.

The best way to prevent certain web pages from being indexed by search engine spiders is to use a robots.txt file, one of the five web files that will improve your website.

If you have a section of your website that is being used as a testing environment, make it password-protected or, better yet, use a local web development environment such as XAMPP or WampServer.

6. Don’t Neglect Image Alt Attributes

Make sure that all of your image alt attributes are descriptive. All images need alt attributes to be 100% W3C-compliant, but many comply to this requirement by adding just any text. No alt attribute is better than inaccurate alt attributes.

Search engines will read alt attributes and may take them into consideration when determining the relevancy of the page to the keywords a searcher queries. It is probably also used in ranking image-based search engines like Google Images.

Outside of the SEO angle, image alt attributes help users who cannot see images.

7. Update Pages with Fresh Content

If your website has a blog, you may want to consider making room for some excerpts of the latest posts to be placed on all of your web pages. Search engines love to see content of web pages changing from time to time as it indicates that the site is still alive and well.

With changing content comes greater crawling frequency by search engines as well.

You won’t want to show full posts because this could cause duplicate content issues.

8. Use Unique Meta Data

Page titles, descriptions, and keywords should all be different. Many times, web designers will create a template for a website and forget to change out the meta data, and what ends up happening is that several pages will use the original placeholder information.

Every page should have its own set of meta data; it is just one of the things that helps search engines get a better grasp of how the structure of the website is constructed.

9. Use Heading Tags Properly

Make good use of heading tags in your web page content; they provide search engines with information on the structure of the HTML document, and they often place higher value on these tags relative to other text on the web page (except perhaps hyperlinks).

Use the <h1> tag for the main topic of the page. Make good use of <h2> through <h6> tags to indicate content hierarchy and to delineate blocks of similar content.

I don’t recommend using multiple <h1> tags on a single page so that your key topic is not diluted.

10. Follow W3C Standards

Search engines love well-formed, clean code (who doesn’t?). Clean code makes the site easier to index, and can be an indicative factor of how well a website is constructed.

Following W3C standards also almost forces you to write semantic markup, which can only be a good thing for SEO.

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About the Author

Adam Heitzman is a web designer/developer with a strong background in SEO. He’s a Managing Partner at HigherVisbility, a Memphis-based internet marketing agency that offers a full range of marketing services ranging from SEO, Pay Per Click Marketing, Web Design and Development, and Social Media Marketing. Connect with HigherVisibility on Facebook and Twitter.

69 Comments

Brian Scott

March 15th, 2011

No Sitemap.xml?

David

March 15th, 2011

Hi, good post. But i would like to know is it bad to use same meta descriptions and keywords for a posts that are same kind, like in my website.

Intrahost

March 15th, 2011

Great SEO tips here. Have you considered creating Internal links throughout your website or blog. Wikipedia is common for this and there are a lot of opportunity to improve SEO.

rashid

March 15th, 2011

nice i like this

Bill Bone

March 15th, 2011

Thanks for sharing. Think I do all of these apart from the unique meta tags on each page. Makes sense, I should probably do that from now on.

Tim444

March 15th, 2011

Thanks for the post. But these tips are for the absolute newbie beginners.

TheKoolDots

March 15th, 2011

Great tips.

I’m in the process of # 7. Update Pages with Fresh Content.

Thanks

Jeffrey A. Haines

March 15th, 2011

Although #5, “Block Pages You Don’t Want Search Engines Index,” is a great practice, I’m not sure that using robots.txt is the ” best way to prevent certain web pages from being indexed” (I also don’t claim to be a SEO expert, so I’d welcome correction or clarification from someone more knowledgeable).

I’ve read that robots.txt prevents page content from being indexed, but does not necessarily guarantee that a page will not show up in the SERPs. Also, if that page has any inbound links, any potential value will not be passed.

I believe a better way to block pages you don’t want search engines to index would be to use the robots meta tag on the individual pages to ensure that they are not listed in the SERPs, but that inbound link “juice” is passed.

sanji

March 15th, 2011

Good Post! would like to add that the page speed is important too! most of us do not have the same speed of internet, especially in certain countries.

Kevin Saunders

March 15th, 2011

These are some great tips to follow. I will have to provide these to any new designer I hire. I catch newbies making some of these mistakes too often!

Madeline

March 15th, 2011

Great article! Thanks for the tips. I didn’t know some of these Like having unique meta data on individual pages.

Blue Fire Media

March 15th, 2011

The one thing I don’t like about using H1,2,3,4 tags is that they are not consistent in size. Any tips on using them so that they might look more consistent in the content?

Ahava

March 15th, 2011

Awesome post. Thanks so much for sharing–can you skywrite it now? :-)

Tiffany

March 15th, 2011

I have a passion for web design, however fairly new at it. I’ve heard and read about a couple of these, but I appreciate you posting the rest. I didn’t know I could externalize the JAVA scripts.

Thanks

Ross

March 15th, 2011

Great Tips there Adam.

This structuring of a page is definitely worth following for designers of all levels.

Thanks

Jean-Hugues bretin

March 15th, 2011

Google announced they would not pay attention to robots.txt anymore, at least they will check what’s inside folders and pages no matter what! http://www.seroundtable.com/google-robotstxt-advice-12759.html

Gabriel Ortiz

March 15th, 2011

Excellent recommendations that are often only minor details that do not take into account for our website

Jovan Jay

March 15th, 2011

Also a good point, that Search Engine Robots are trained like how human behave when they stumble upon a page, which means they can also analyze a pages content and keyword weight, so its also better to highlight keywords that is strongly related to the entire content of the page.

Patrick Altoft

March 15th, 2011

I disagree with point 2 totally. The way Google spiders a page is to request the entire html file so having inline script makes no difference at all. Google doesn’t execute the script like a browser does so there is nothing to slow it down – it just ignores it.

itsmartie

March 15th, 2011

great article and totally agree with it. we have had ours website designed by another company before i got into seo and web design and about the meta data they have used the same throught the whole website and at the moment not sure wether to go through and alter it or not see if will help slightly for the non cmega competative long tails

Jacob

March 15th, 2011

A bit obvious tips. But a nice reminder.

kivovo

March 15th, 2011

Think it was nicely done…:D

Gleenk

March 15th, 2011

Good but imho not really detailed and exhaustive. This things are not the most important and not sufficient. Improve it ;)

dcolumbus

March 15th, 2011

Great arcitle. Very useful, indeed. Spelling error? “No alt attribute is better than inaccurate alt attributes” should probably be “No alt attribute is better than accurate alt attributes”?

dorkus

March 15th, 2011

Blue Fire Media – have you never heard of CSS? You’re a web development company and you don’t know how to style Header tags?

Noel

March 15th, 2011

Thanks for this article, it’s always good to get a reminder on important topics that can often be overlooked.

HTML Codes Dude

March 15th, 2011

With regard to the script tags you should put them at the bottom of the page then the content will load before the scripts. Great article though.

Hiram

March 15th, 2011

I think point #1 is default for any SEO web designer or developer. Also #7 should be up higher on the list as it has greater weight than other points mentioned.

Overall I think this is an awesome article and very useful to those starting to build SEO friendly websites.

Jack

March 15th, 2011

Your statement “I don’t recommend the use of multiple h1 elements” – if you’re using the html5 spec, you’re encouraged to use the h1 element to denote the heading element in articles and sections; if you put an h1 inside of a header element, that is found to be the site’s title. Just throwing that out there (xhtml and html4, if I recall correctly, do ask that you only use one h1)

Giannis

March 15th, 2011

Any tips about keyword density?

Bfred.it

March 15th, 2011

For Pete’s sake, guys, leave the validation out of SEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XlKn6I9rSc

Jay Sethi

March 15th, 2011

Great post, I would love to see more regarding SEO.

Farhan

March 16th, 2011

I have got good knowledge about SEO with this article.

eldar

March 16th, 2011

nice post, but there must be more tips i think

Sankar Datti

March 16th, 2011

Simple and common points for every website… Good post

Dennis Sievers

March 16th, 2011

About #2
If you have only a little bit of JS or CSS code, just put it in the HTML file since ‘loading’ an external file usually takes more time then processing a few lines of script. You benefit more of having a faster page, than excluding all JS for the sake of ‘cleaning’ up your code.

Put the script in the bottom of the HTML file of course, so SE’s get to see the content first.

Tuấn Ven

March 16th, 2011

Thank you!, but i like make it with backlink

Hds

March 16th, 2011

Don’t want to be a pain in the ass, but… you are calling this “Excellent SEO Tips”? Really?? Same things over and over again, nothing new – this is nothing more than a very basic list of basic techniques for total beginners.

Hannah Hurst

March 16th, 2011

Some nice tips given here. A little basic but good for people just starting to learn.

brian

March 16th, 2011

Re Point 9 HTML5 now uses the hgroup and activly promotes using multiple instances of H1
http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/sections.html#the-hgroup-element

Young

March 16th, 2011

@Hds (and everyone else who keeps commenting on these SEO articles with “I knew all that”) I’d LOVE for you guys to for once comment with some of those advanced SEO techniques you speak of. Yes most of these tips are the first things you find when you look into SEO, but I’ve rarely heard of techniques beyond – and I get so frustrated when you guys are always saying “this is amateur.” If you’re going to be condescending about it, then at least provide some insight to what gives you the right.

Ryan Stryker

March 16th, 2011

Thanks for the tips, a little due diligence goes a long way. I always forget #8 and end up having the same meta-data on every page – thanks for reminding me to double check that!

Roy

March 16th, 2011

Great article, I am glad I found your blog. I have been working on a few websites and I need all the help I can find. Thanks

Jeremy Streich

March 16th, 2011

#2 — Modern web spiders are smart enough to ignore script tags.
The real reason for making CSS and Script external are performance.
External CSS and JS can be cached and thus reduce the weight of subsequent pages.
Note, Javascript should stay at the bottom of the document if at all possible, as when a browser reaches javascript in a page it is rendering, all rendering ceases to decrease the likely hood of “page flashing”
and in CSS should only be added in the to make it comply with w3c, the page render faster and prevent “page flashing”.

#4 — This is myth in modern search engines. This hasn’t been an issue for sometime. If you want your URLs to be pretty for other reasons,
like to helping advanced visotors to get arround, you can use ModRewrites in yuot .htaccess or apache configuration (or equivelnent in other web servers).

Like mentioned by other commenters, should mention XML sitemaps.

Vikram

March 16th, 2011

Thanks to put light on robots.txt, for now i know how it can be used to avoid data redundancy problem.

ferruh lermi

March 17th, 2011

thank you . Ferruh Lermi

Karla Swarovski Koi

March 17th, 2011

I had a problem with a projects robots.txt. Even i stated disallow/all the googlebot crawled the site and put it to the index, so my client could see it. Next time i will use the internal wordpress function to noindex the page…

Sydney Miles

March 17th, 2011

Good cheers to the author for sharing his first-hand experiences on the subject matter. As in anything, we just have to take the good with the ‘bad’. Pick up what we think is really useful, and discard those which we already know, or just use them as a reminder. Yet, for so many others in need of good, innovative, and fresh ideas, this article is great!Keep on writin’ and keep your ‘juicy’ ideas flowin’! Smiles and cheers!

michael

March 17th, 2011

What do W3C Standards have to do with Seo ? Nothing..

Clipping Path

March 18th, 2011

Excellent and helpful SEO tips! I like it…:)

Jocelyna

March 18th, 2011

Excellent SEO tips for web designing. This the basic root of on page factor of the website. Thanks for sharing… :)

Frank

March 18th, 2011

Very helpfull tips. Thank you very much!

jay

March 21st, 2011

Commonly known List
The issue #10 (W3C) ist not proven. SE like authentic and slim code, not just clean code.
Not sure if it has an impact on your ranking at all.

Jeff

March 24th, 2011

wonderful and informative article and it really helps me

Al

March 29th, 2011

Great article. Going to start doing some SEO soon for a project, these are some really good starting points.

Ryan

April 4th, 2011

#6 is one I commonly see people miss. Alt tags for images can really help bring in some extra “long tail” traffic.

Tom Durkin

April 8th, 2011

Great tips thanks for sharing.

Image ALTs are something that are quite frequently overlooked. They are essential for usability, and they are also a good way of increasing keyword density in your source code.

Tom

Avenir

April 11th, 2011

I use the Firefox Web Developer tool bar for this, which is very useful for quickly checking new pages and CSS. It’s a great idea to bring designers into the SEO equation.

Smirs

April 26th, 2011

Thanks a lot! I liked your post!

Prince Zermic

May 22nd, 2011

When producing content, there are many places you can use it. You can leverage the power of social media, you can optimize your own website with plenty of pages of rich and informative content, and you can execute an effective off-page strategy that helps you build links to your site and gain attention from other websites.

Henry Kelly

June 26th, 2011

Internet/Digital Advertising is still and emerging field that we’re just scratching the surface. With any on the web technologies and field those that master the in person/offline methods too are what we call the true gurus of the market. They are developing a brand new way of branding and corporation interaction thats not 1 sided in any direction but a holistic approach. The jobs that will flurish from this market will be similar to the introduction of the personal laptop or computer as well as the progaming field. My suggestion for everyone would be to read, understand, and innovate. Tradional techniques still apply in a digital world.

John M

August 8th, 2011

Thanks for this great post. I especially liked the part about image alt tags. I used to question how much impact they have…they are great to get that extra keyword optimization in!

Jenni

August 23rd, 2011

I think these tips is useful for newbie in the blogosphere only :)

Piyal

August 29th, 2011

Can googlebot read alt tags dynamically inserted by javascript?

Volha Hunt

September 13th, 2011

Thanks a lot. I really enjoyed this article. I already follow some of the steps you advocate.

ews

September 19th, 2011

awesome post!everyone want to get good rank for site so this post very helpful for us.keep it up……

Topic Simple

November 24th, 2011

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the power of video. Having a video (with suitable title and keywords) is a great way to increase search rankings. As video has become more popular, Google has started to rank it higher and higher. It’s another great way to get eyeballs back to your site, and Search Engine friendly!

Green Apple Studio

August 28th, 2012

Great tips. I would also mention the Title Tags. Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site, it could make a huge difference.

Cheers

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