Designing for SEO: 5 Key Elements to Include

Many believe you can have SEO or a great design, that they are mutually exclusive. But the truth is your glass will be half empty without both.

Without SEO (Search Engine Optimization), your search rankings, user traffic, and website visibility may greatly suffer. On the other hand, if your site is not well designed or does not provide a great user experience, you may also risk the loss of conversion rates, brand recognition and business credibility.

It’s no coincidence that our two most popular services here at PaperStreet are Custom Web Design and Search Engine Optimization. Knowing how vital they are to our clients’ websites, we work hard to ensure that the two complement each other. In fact, we take it a step further and use design to enhance SEO.

5 Design Elements That Directly Affect SEO:

1. Visual Prompts

Visual Prompts guide users to the important sections of your site and deeper into your pages. They prompt them to take the desired actions, such as sign up, buy, learn more about you, etc. They are important for usability and conversions. They can also be properly SEO’d.

Visual prompts can be Images (such as directional arrows, buttons, and illustrations), Bullet Points (to provide only the need-to-know info), and Headlines (to distinguish sections and their titles, also important for SEO emphasis). We created strong visual prompts for Bloom Legal with orange arrows: http://www.bloomlegal.com/.

Those arrows are not just graphics though; they are HTML text with font replacement and graphics applied. This gives it a great look and also helps with SEO. Getting your users’ attention usually leads them deeper into your site, and that means more page visits, ultimately resulting in higher search rankings.

2. Flash

There was a time when Adobe Flash was the “cool kid on the block,” but now we know it has major limitations in terms of SEO. To put it simply, sites built in Flash lack the capability to display the data needed for Search Engine Optimization.

We advise using Flash sparingly or for appropriate and specific interactive elements within the site, such as a 3D animation or Flash within an image to provide enhancement. A perfect example of this is on our client’s site: http://www.finr.net/ (Check out the 3D Brain on the right). The 3D animation is great in Flash. But all of the remaining elements on the web site are HTML and JavaScript.

3. jQuery

A perfect segue from Flash is jQuery, as it accomplishes animation and interactive elements in place of Flash. A jQuery is a JavaScript library that allows for faster development and, most importantly, still holds hidden content and retains the necessary page markup information for SEO. Check out how we’ve utilized jQuery functionality within our sites:

  • LakeLawhttp://www.LakeLaw.com – Look for the transitioning slides and expandable sections on the home page, all created using jQuery. This allows for SEO text to be indexed. It also makes the site extremely organized and usable.
  • Appellate Partnerhttp://www.appellatepartner.com/appellate-decisions/medical-malpractice – Click on the Cases and see how hidden content drops down. This allows the user to be in control and reduces the amount of text seen when initially landing on the page. Again, it is SEO friendly and usable.

4. Include a Blog

We highly recommend our clients have a blog on their site. It’s a great way to become an authority on a subject, drive traffic to your site, add fresh content continually and target key search words, all of which are fantastic for SEO. We design blogs that are visually stimulating, as well as functional. Take a peek at some examples:

5. Fatty Footer

Fatty Footers include valuable content, often a more detailed navigation menu or a call out from one of your site’s sections, like the blog. Having this additional content provides more keywords for the search engines. Although the text in a fatty footer is not a huge boost for SEO because the footer text is lower on the page, it still helps. We are pretty big fans of the fatty footer, as it gives us a little bit more room to be creative and any benefit to your SEO is one worth using. It is also the last item on the page that the user sees, so it is a great opportunity for related links, calls to action and branding elements.

Scroll to the bottom of these pages to see our fatty footer creations:

Conclusion

When great design is combined with Search Engine Optimization, you are setting your site up for success. When designing your site, make sure that you include SEO-friendly visual prompts, use jquery elements and not Flash, include Fatty footers, and a unique blog design.

If you need help contact PaperStreet to find out more at www.paperstreet.com for a free consult.


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