Don’t sacrifice design on altar of SEO

site-under-constructionWith search engine optimisation often viewed as the be-all and end-all of any website build or redesign, it is crucial that the design of the site does not take a back seat.
SEO should be built into any site development from the ground up, not simply as an add-on. Once you have determined your keywords, transferring them effectively into the design and site structure is the main goal.
It is important then that you build a flat structure into your information architecture – how your data is labelled.
Sticking to the three clicks to deepest level rule ensures that users can easily reach what they’re looking for and enable more visibility in the search engines.
Internal linking is very important from both a user and search engine perspective. Create an internal link mapping rule to ensure you cross link to pages that users may find useful and are on topic, leading to greater engagement onsite.
Design is usually where the fight to compromise takes place to accommodate content on an image heavy site, but this does not need to be the case. You can create a site that sticks to the core principles, and here are a few common situations and solutions for combining design with SEO:

Image heavy pages with little opportunity for content and SEO
Create images overlayed by absolutely positioned text that is hidden once the page loads. When you position the mouse over the image the overlaying text is revealed using Javascipt

pic0306 Helene HallLead in text which expands (read more) on click to unveil more content
Javascript can be used to hide an extended part of the text: when you click the ‘read more’ link the remainder of the text becomes visible

Tabs which offer further content when selected
Tabs will reveal content based on what “tab” the user clicks on, hiding all other unrelated blocks of content

And don’t forget, it’s well worth investing in both the design and optimisation of your website. After all, this may be the first (and last) contact a client, or perspective client, has with your business.

Helene Hall is director of search at Gravytrain

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