Many excellent web designers know next to nothing of web marketing, and this can be a big problem. Marketing a site in search engines requires that the site be designed in a search engine compatible format. Many beautiful sites do not fare well in search engines at all simply because of the way they have been designed. Here are some things web designers should know about web marketing.
Beautiful sites with lots of graphics may look awesome, but are often so slow to download that web visitors, particularly on dial-up connections, will simply go elsewhere before the site even finishes downloading. Some search engines also may penalize sites for being to slow.
When designing a site, all of the file names of the site should be representative of what’s on each page. File names like page_1.html are not helpful in conveying what is on the page. Search engines look for sites that are relevant and that are clear about the information being provided. Descriptive, yet short names, like web_marketing_design.php tell not only search engines spiders what’s on a page, but humans as well.
Similar to file names, URLs should be created in formats that that are meaningful to humans and search engines. Often URLs are a combination of domain names, directory names and file names. All of these elements should be descriptive of what’s on the site, the directory and the page respectively.
Also, many shopping cart use URLs such as http://www.somesite.com/store/index.php?pid=2786247642. Looking at this URL, neither search engine nor human can determine the contents of the page. http://www.somesite.com/store/widgets.php?product=sky_hook_widgets is much better. It seems most major search engines will now index pages with question marks in the URL, yet this may still hinder some smaller search engines. Shopping carts that do not use question marks in the URL are available and make for cleaner looking URLs that are easier to remember, such as http://www.somedomain.com/store/sky_widgets.
Alt tags are displayed when graphics have been turned off. A surfer may turn off graphics to get better Internet speed or may rely on alt tags because of physical impairment. This is probably why search engines still seem to weigh alt tags into their search ranking algorithms. Many web designers leave alt tags blank, when in fact they could be populated with keyword laden and accurate descriptions of the images.
There are certain elements that users of the web have come to expect of the sites they encounter. Examples would be Home and Contact buttons. Have you ever been to a web site and found yourself digging for the Home or especially the Contact button? I don’t know about you, but I find this quite annoying. Ahh… What a breathe of fresh air to go to a web site and find the menu in the same location on every page and have the first button be Home and the last button Contact. Mmmm, I get warm just thinking about it. Yet, designers are driven by aesthetics and beauty. “How boring to always have the same menu format!” might be one web artist’s cry. Boring – perhaps. Easy to use? Yes. When it comes to marketing and web sites, easy-to-use goes a long way toward making a sale.
Commonly Web designers will put the same meta tags on every page of a site. This is not nearly as effective at getting ranked in the search engines as focusing the meta tags of each page to a few specific and accurate keywords on the page. The goal of search engines is to bring relevant data to its users. Having page specific meta tags is another way of showing not just search engines, but your visitors as well, exactly what your page is about. This makes finding your pages that much easier.
Generally, before designing a site, it is a good idea to determine your keywords first. Determining your keywords is the topic of another article altogether. Once keywords have been determined, the site can be designed in such a way as to focus most on those keywords, in the domain name, directory names, file names, the menu names, the alt tags and meta tags. Designing your keywords into your site will give you a huge advantage over many competitors and is much easier than designing keywords into a site after it has been designed.