Friday, August 24, 2007

5 Top Design Tips to Help Your Site in the Search Engines

It seems pretty straight forward. You are designing a website because you want people to look at it, maybe participate in it, maybe buy from it. You will have spent a lot of time thinking about color schemes, headers, and pages. Your website might be an original idea that looks set to make you a million. What you need to do before you even make a single click of your mouse in your favorite HTML editor is think about your website marketing strategy.

I am not going to go into the realms of advanced search engine optimization techniques in this article, but rather look at the very basics needed to get your site in the search engines. Believe it or not, web designers don't always pay attention to this. There are some amazing looking sites out there with no visitors because nobody can find them.

This is not an exhaustive list of tips nor are they in any particular order, but they should give you a sound basis with which to get your website out into the world.

1. Decide what services or products you want people to use you for and use these as your keywords. Keywords are single words or phrases that people use to find things on the net.

2. Put your keywords into your meta tags in the header of your page. Nowadays some search engines don't put too much importance into the meta tags but it is still worth putting them in for the ones that do.

3. Make sure that all of your keywords are mentioned in your main content. This may sound silly but a lot of people pad their meta tags out with keywords that they never write about. Search engines don't like this because it can be seen as an unethical technique to get high rankings for a broad range of subjects and could get your site banned.

4. Use your title tags to tell people what your site is about. I see lots of sites with title tags that are so wishy washy, it's no wonder they don't get many visits. It is simply not enough to put your business name. Try and get into the mind set of the searcher - think about what they would type into the search box to find a company like yours. Unless they know your company name and what you do, they will not search for it. If your company is called Visage and is a hair salon, don't just put 'Visage Hair Salon' in the title. Think about what people want from you and what they would search for to find you. Things like 'hair cuts' or 'hair colouring' is a much better bet. Use your imagination and get results.

5. Use your H1 and H2 tags as a headline to tell the people on your site and the search engines exactly what the page is about. Forget about catchy tag lines or intriguing marketing wizardry, tell it as it is. If your page is about 'Rainbow Trout in the River Trent' put 'Rainbow Trout in the River Trent' in your H1 tags. Then all things being equal and you have followed the other points, a searcher or a search engine will know what your site is about because it says so in your meta tags, content, title tags and headings. In fact it will be so obvious that it would be a crime not to include it in the search.

Now you may be thinking that it all seems a bit obvious but take a look at some websites and check out the source code. There are plenty out there not following the tips mentioned above.

If you want to know where to find these sites - go to the last page of a search listing.

Andy Stocks is a web designer for a website design company specialising in web development, search engine optimisation, hosting and corporate identity. You can email Andy direct at

By: Andy Stocks

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