If you’ve ever explored the upper echelons of Google results pages, you’ll know that certain queries generate the kind of unflattering websites better suited to page ten, or even ten thousand. In other words, slick, professional website design is no guarantee of a strong presence in search engines such as Google. Slick, professional marketing strategies, though, can take even the ugliest sites to the top.
It’s been an industry buzzword for years now, but many people still want to know: what is SEO? Search engine optimization – better known by its time-saving moniker, SEO – consists of so many individual tools and practices that entire books and websites have been dedicated to it. In a nutshell, though, SEO covers anything that helps position a website higher in search engine ranking pages when certain keywords are used. Well-thought-out marketing strategies help boost a site’s presence in these search engine rankings and usually work in tandem with SEO.
In a simpler time you could open a phone book or Yellow Pages and flip to your desired destination. But with so many websites and so much online content (not to mention the ever-changing nature of the web), a new way of indexing and organizing topics was needed. And rather than appear alphabetically, search results today are largely determined by popularity, which ties in closely with criteria such as authority, relevance and so on.
A marriage of convenience (for the user)
SEO also enjoys a close bond with website design – or at least it should if an SEO campaign is to be successful. Certain design practices, both visible and invisible to the average user, make a website more or less favourable in the eyes of the search engines that index them. And although the criteria for determining whether the design of a website is SEO-friendly seems to change daily, the most progressive design firms will understand and cater to these nuances, however insignificant they might appear.
Because search engines continually work to improve the experience of users, website design that incorporates SEO-friendly structure and practices is also inherently user-friendly. That typically means the site features logical, uncomplicated architecture with room for lots of fresh content (e.g. news or blog sections), uses clear and relevant URLs, avoids Flash where possible and labels visual content strategically.
These are just a handful of the many intricacies that come into play. Marketing strategies, such as link building or social media marketing, will be more effective when they are combined with an SEO-primed website, one whose design makes it easy for users and search-engine crawlers alike to access.
If you’re still left wondering, “What is SEO?” and better yet, “What can SEO do for my site?” then it shows you understand this vital field is no passing fad. ITW Consulting, a Toronto-based website design agency that has also worked with clients in Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, Brampton and beyond, knows that a stunning and functional site can only take a business so far. Websites today need SEO-friendly structure and professional marketing strategies to propel them to the first page of Google. Great design is what helps keeps these sites there and visitors coming back.