Website design and SEO (search engine optimisation) are two separate disciplines. That said, few online businesses survive without good Google rankings. My core business has always been SEO, and I am one of very few NZ web designers with a comprehensive understanding of the issues, elements and best practices in website design and SEO.
In tertiary educational institutions, website design is usually treated more as art than as a business discipline. In contrast, an SEO consultant usually has a much greater focus on the business aspect, often at the expense of the artistic elements.
The challenge all business websites have is how to generate potential client leads online. Invariably, acquisition of new business is far more expensive than maintaining an existing client base. New online clients will usually find you via searches on the Big 3 – Google, Yahoo and MSN’s Bing search engines (SE’s). A small business SEO package will help improve traffic and enquiries.
In order for that to happen, your site must be carefully engineered to ensure that;
- SE’s can find and index it in its entirety
- SE’s can determine exactly what the site is about
- SE’s can assess its relevance to common / popular specific keyword search phrases
- SE’s can assess what external sites say about yours – i.e. external verification
There are 200 plus elements assessed in Google relevancy ranking algorithm, and the more of those that you are able to control and have working for you, the better off your site will be. Think of this as being like a library cataloging process, done by robots! If a robot picks up a book, how does it assess where in the library it should be placed. Obviously, it needs some clues to the content to determine a classification, and where it should sit in the library’s shelves.
Search engine robots / spiders operate in a fully automated “rules-based” methodology to first determine what the site is about. For external verification, they correlate the ‘about’ information against the descriptive titles within external links pointing to the website. Then, the search engine assesses the relevancy of the website against real-time searches as they are made. The process is similar for all the major search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing etc.
There are two aspects that impact on search engine rankings, usually referred to as On-site SEO, and Of-Site SEO.
- To assess how well your website is placed, please ask for a Website SEO Audit.
This encompasses the assessment of technical and architectural deficiencies that impact negatively on indexing and categorising a site. Problems are assessed and remedied. Then, every page must be accurately composed so that it targets a particular niche keyword set –usually, 1 primary and 1 secondary keyword phrase. In addition to on-page elements, its also vital that meta-data accurately describe the pages. Title and meta-tags for Description and keywords should accurately describe the content on the page. All of this requires keyword research on search engine databases, analysis of competition, and assessment of appropriate keywords to target on a page by page basis!
This encompasses building of links that include a range of relevant keyword phrases in the Anchor Text (link titles). In a competitive niche, a site simply cannot rank well for any current/popular keyword phrase that is NOT included in link titles of incoming links TO your website. 1-way links are better than reciprocal links. A broad geographic (global) spread of incoming links gives a higher perceived value / profile than a narrow range of local links.
Without that range of relevant keyword phrases in external links to your site, Search engines have minimal external verification of what your site is about! So, its imperative that you cast the “keyword search phrase” net across the pool of relevant keyword search phrases, and pull in a broadest range of qualified traffic / visitors.
Web SEO Summary
Achieving a concurrency between internal website content (what you say the site is about) and external links (what other people say the site is about) is the objective of the search engine optimisation exercise. In general, many designers and their clients don’t fully understand the mechanics of optimising / tuning a site, page by page to achieve a planned outcome on Google et al. Many designers regard this as a completely separate issue, one to be dealt with by the client at a later date.
That’s where professional SEO consultants come into the frame – applying all their knowledge and experience in identifying and addressing the technical and architectural deficiencies, tuning content, and addressing external factors. I’m an SEO specialist first and foremost, and can apply that knowledge to website design services for the best possible outcome for my clients.