Facts

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Fact: Many (most?) website design companies do not design with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Placement (SEP) in mind.

Most web design developers and companies do a fantastic job of designing great looking websites. If they didn't they wouldn't be in business long. But as there are many invisible "on-page factors" that can be manipulated and added to give a web page much more visibility and topic relevance. If your web designer doesn't know both about these factors and doesn't understand your business and the relevant keywords you are trying to be found for, it is like building a beautiful billboard in the forest: few people will see your gorgeous website[1]. The appropriate use of descriptions, titles, alt tags, meta data and well-written relevant content improves the chances of appearing at the top of the right search results for your industry and page topic. These factors also allow an increasing number of browsers and social networks to aggregate and filter your content so they can accurately understand what your content is about.

Ideally this means that your web designer should have a fairly deep understanding of your business and industry during design. As this is rare, it is important to have content authors and thought leaders for your business and industry work closely with the designer to incorporate behind-the-scenes content into these invisible factors to improve your website's visibility and positioning in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Many people think meta tags are important for SEO. Actually, up to 72 behind-the-scenes invisible factors affect search engine results.

Meta tags do not improve search engine positioning. The meta description tag is important though because once search engines use up to 72 other on-page factors to find a web page / website, this tag is the first place search engines look to fill in the listing in their results. If the meta description tag does not exist the search engine goes to the next likely place - the first paragraph of the page. Including meta description tags is extremely important so you can display an accurate summary in the small amount of text that appears below your link in the SERPs. But it is a mistake to believe that any meta tag is used by search engines to help your site get found.

Let's say you have a mortgage website - an industry with just about as much competition as any other. Each web page will have a topic, like current interest rates, mortgage and amortization calculators, homeowner's insurance, purchase topics, refinance topics, application, etc. and the home page will have the most. You think you have a fairly accurate keyword phrase list for each page but your designer didn't have these during design nor would s/he have understood your industry nomenclature if they do not work in your business. Many of the invisible on-page elements that are used to size and position content can have any or all of:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Alternate or 'alt' tag
  • Caption
  • Comment
  • Identification or 'ID'
  • Anchor
  • Class
  • Style
  • Link
... and others. All of these tags are not seen by the website visitor, yet they all must have a name. Your mortgage website can use the list of relevant keywords for each page to name these items. These keyword phrases should be strategically used in creating the CSS and HTML tag names and properties that pertain to your business and industry to make your web pages robustly search engine optimized to be discovered for each mortgage topic. Even graphics can have two, three or more words used as their names separated by dashes - phrases that relate to your business, the web page and the goals of the page itself. This technique is not specialized knowledge, web designers know how to design web pages and Internet marketing specialists know how to optimize a website for a list of relevant keywords. The combination of doing both simultaneously can make your website many times more effective than doing these tasks separately.

Fact: If your website content doesn't immediately and emotionally engage the visitor, your website won't
convert to sales.

As alluded to on the home page, first-time visitors are less patient today and read less content than just a few years ago. Just as movie audiences are becoming more demanding over time, today you have as little as 2.7 seconds to emotionally engage your visitor once your page is found, because those surfing the Internet are more demanding as well. All elements of your website must present well, from the layout to displaying relevant and helpful graphics to an easy-to-follow user interface to the actual content, all aspects of your website are under more scrutiny than ever. Even the speed at which your web pages load make a huge difference: improving the load speed by just the tiniest fraction can stop many more visitors from getting frustrated and clicking away. Studies on shopping cart abandonment alone reveal the challenge: as many as 88% of online buyers admit they have abandoned an online shopping cart without completing a transaction,[2] and it is thought that at least 50% and as many as 90% of all shopping carts are abandoned before completion.

This is why you must diligently question those who would design or improve your website on their knowledge and qualification of each of these four factors:

  • User interface simplicity and effectiveness.
  • Use of graphics philosophy: how many, general size and usefulness to the visitor.
  • Modern design knowledge.
  • Engaging content authoring and/or blogging experience.

Find a web developer or company that can show you examples of each of the above four factors to your satisfaction and you'll likely end up with a satisfactory and well-converting website that will keep your marketing costs down by being well-built for organic search engine placement.

References

1. Unless you use pay-per-click advertising like Google Adwords to make your website appear on sponsored links sections of search engines.

2. Forrester Research: Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment.

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About the Author

Don Henderson is a San Diego Internet Marketing Specialist with over ten years Internet management and marketing experience. He has managed dozens of Internet development and marketing projects and has experience in product management and business planning.