So you've decided to declare your online presence with a stunning web design project. A robust online presence can aid your business in a number of ways. You can let customers know about pricing, hours, policies and events, and you can make sure that your loyal followers know what's new. These visitors will come to your site through advertisements, business cards, or in-store posting. On top of this, though, a well-designed website will draw in a new base of clients every single day that it's online. The key to bringing new people to your site (and thus, to your business) is the integration of web design and SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
Many hosting companies offer free web page design software. Every year, this software gets better and better, and will help you to make a pretty slick looking page in relatively little time. What this free software won't do for you, though, is SEO, which leads search engines and their searchers to your site - hopefully.
If you sell ice cream and you use a free web page designer, you can set up a pretty page, but when someone types “ice cream” into their search bar, they'll still end up at the Dannon or Ben & Jerry's home page. Learning about SEO before you design your page or hiring a web design or marketing professional to help you will ensure that someone searching for “ice cream” in your area will end up at your web site. New site visitors mean new customers, which means more money in your pocket.
How does Search Engine Optimization work? Web sites are made up of a lot more than you see when you visit them. Behind every site are lines and lines of computer code – usually in the HTML language used for web pages. Every bold title, every picture, and every text box you see on a web site contains all sorts of information that is invisible to the eye.
Most of this information simply tells your browser how to show you the content – should the picture be on right or the left? Should the test wrap around the picture, go on top of or behind the picture, or skip the picture entirely and leave an empty space? Web designers tell the computer all of this and more with HTML code. Inside of this code are a number of fields – metatags, image titles, and other “hidden,” attributes that do little to change the user experience, but that significantly alter the way that Google looks at a site. As a very simple example, if your site has ten pictures of your ice cream products on it, that represents ten opportunities for an SEO-savvy web designer to tell Google that your site is serious about ice cream.
Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly crawling the web. They use complex algorithms to “index,” the web, following link after link and collecting information about the sites that they visit. The proper integration of web design and SEO places all of the right markers in all of the right places for these search engines; in the case of our example, making it clear that this site has a whole lot to offer when it comes to ice cream. Search engines make their money by delivering the most relevant sites to their customers, time after time. If you sell the best ice cream in your area, the search engines have some pretty strong motivation to tell people about your web site.
Sure, you can make a pretty good site with a free website generator, but if you really want to ensure the integration of web design and SEO on your site, you need to pay attention to this from day one. Taking an online course on SEO or hiring an experienced professional when you set up your site will pay off quickly in the form of high rankings, a lot of traffic, and ultimately, a healthy ROI.