SEO-Focused Website Redesign

Designers often believe that their work only plays a minor in the user experience and how sites visitors interact with a website, and doesn't impact anything else in the broader marketing initiative of an enterprise. They could not be more wrong.

Here are three ways a Web design (or redesign) plays a major role in the success of a website in the search results. Whether you are designing a new site or redesigning one, the following three points are absolutely necessary if you want to rank on top of the search results pages.

: CODE :
The quality of the code and the resulting structure of the website, believe it or not, plays a major role in how well search engines's spiders can index a page. When Web pages are filled with rudimentary HTML for tables, or fonts, or element positioning, there is a lower ratio of content to code. Since search engines want the content, including code that is unnecessary limits the ability of a page to rank well on the search engines. Many of the popular WYSIWYG editors are notorious for producing low-quality code. Do yourself a favor and stay away from these solutions, opting for a website that takes full advantage of separate CSS files which include many of the worst perpetrators.

Make no mistake: images are a fundamental and arguably crucial part of websites. Making images that can't be seen by search engines spiders, images which convey some form of vital information, is a major mistake when it comes to SEO-focused websites. Images should be used to emphasize relevance and nothing more. While there is, or used to be, a great deal of discussion surrounding image optimization, another important area for designers to pay attention to is the size of their images (as images that are too "big" boost the page size). Fully rendered pages which leave a smaller footprint can be crawled more quickly by the search engines and are, therefore, better when it comes to SEO-focused website design.

Accessibility is one of those terms that means very different things to different people. For some it will have a technical connotation; for others it will be less technical and more "experiential". Accessibility can really be defined both ways - 1) as not preventing users (or search bots) from crawling or seeing a site), and 2) not limiting which users can see and experience content. For example, blocking bots with a robots.txt file is definitely something to stay away from, as is putting content behind a "paywall." There are, of course, other types of accessibility designers should be aware of. Designers, for example, should always include ALT text on images, never use Flash (seriously, never), and opt for HTML navigation instead of JavaScript.

These are just some of the major issues facing designers when it comes to SEO and should top the list of considerations for those developing a Web presence for their client (or themselves).