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Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?Views: 1321
May 15, 2005 5:31 pmSearch Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Dean H.
As I continue my search for the right SEO professional for my business project and look over dozens of portfolio work, I've become convinced of something; That effective copywriting and good webdesign doesn't seem to be as big of a factor in Organic SEO than it should be.

I've reviewed a few websites that rank high on Google within their respective keyword categories and their web design & usability could use alot of improvements. Their copywriting isn't the best in the world. It just seems like they throw in a few keywords here and there and that shows up on Google's ranking.

So, I can only come to one conclusion as to why these websites rank high on Google. I believe the one deciding factor in having these sites rank high is that they all have engage in alot of reciprocal linking and link popularity campaigns. All of them link to each other and thus boosts each others Pagerank. Any business professional who has the time can certainly engage in such practices. I mean, how hard can it be to send out some emails to other real estate websites and give a win-win proposition? You link to me and I link to you and we all win. If you don't have the time, then of course, it's so much easier to find a SEO expert to do it for you.

Of course, even if their website ranks high on Google, it doesn't mean they have high conversion rates (ie; getting prospects to call you). A good design and effective copywriting can help boost your conversion rates.

Getting business from the web and having a successful search engine markting strategy should include the following factors;

-Reciprocal linking & search engine submission tactics,
-Solid Web Design,
-And pursuasive copywriting.

One without the other isn't enough. You gotta have all three. It seems some SEO experts are good at that but not good at web design usability (Use of CSS, fast load time, minimizing the flash features, html markup, etc...) And then it seems that good Web Designers can make your website say "Wow" but haven't a clue about proper organic SEO tactics.

Am I right or wrong? You tell me.

Dean

Private Reply to Dean H.

May 15, 2005 5:45 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Russ Howard
Dean,
You are dead on. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Russ Howard

Private Reply to Russ Howard

May 15, 2005 7:11 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Adrian Fusiarski
My best advice is for you to go and read up at the search engines directly as they all have guidelines for SEO freely published online. Just remember that they are only guidelines too. If there was some magical hard and fast formula that we could all follow then we wouldn’t need ‘SEO experts’ would we and they would be out of work anyway.

Its only because there are no hard and fast rules that SEO services manage to stay in business!

Here’s a few quote from Google’s SEO guidelines page itself.
http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html

“SEO is an abbreviation for "search engine optimizer." Many SEO’s provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, there are a few unethical SEO’s who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.

While Google does not have relationships with any SEO’s and does not offer recommendations, we do have a few tips that may help you distinguish between an SEO that will improve your site and one that will only improve your chances of being dropped from search engine results altogether.

Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue. Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEO's that claim to guarantee rankings, or that claim a "special relationship" with Google, or that claim to have a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is by using the page at http://www.google.com/addurl.html. You can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do.
Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you. “

And the other major two search engines, Yahoo/Inktomi and MSN.

http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/basics/basics-18.html
http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp
http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/ranking/ranking-02.html
http://beta.search.msn.com/docs/siteowner.aspx?t=SEARCH_WEBMASTER_REF_GuidelinesforOptimizingSite.htm

Other Helpful Links….
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_usability http://www.useit.com/alertbox/
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/01/31/link_spamer_interview/print.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_farm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyword_stuffing

The two most authorative websites on search engines and related are these two. They were the first and they are rightly the most respected by industry pros.
http://www.webmasterworld.com/index.htm
http://searchenginewatch.com/

>>>>I mean, how hard can it be to send out some emails to other real estate websites and give a win-win proposition? You link to me and I link to you and we all win. If you don't have the time, then of course, it's so much easier to find a SEO expert to do it for you.>>>

If you think its that easy to get incoming links from rival companies Dean, I'm afraid you've got a very rude awakening coming! Some SEO'
s can guarantee incoming links because they own 1000's of networked domains and websites solely used to create link farms and a network of reciprocal linkers, which is exactly why reciprocal linking has lost some of its effectiveness of late, as new updated search algorithms spot the spammers.

I'd say there was two kinds of usability to consider too. One for the end user and one for the search bots.
CSS is purely for the end user and has nothing to do with what a search bot will see when its crawling your site. All it picks up is text.

http://www.unlv.edu/depts/web/searchengines.html


Ade

Private Reply to Adrian Fusiarski

May 16, 2005 8:54 amre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Sagar
Dean,

I think what you say is right, it is my beleif that website design which is primarily either run by designers who only have a look goood factor, doesnt help in 1 SEO and 2; conversion, there has to be a mix of the marketing team and the design team behind the whole website else it fails to meet its objectives that we set for the success of the site.

Any comments??

Sagar

Private Reply to Sagar

May 16, 2005 11:37 amre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Jonathan Clayman
Spot on Dean!

The problem is that nobody is looking at the big picture. I am currently working on a project where I am devising the SEO strategy and working hand in hand with a copywriter and designer who know how each other tick.

Most people fall into the trap of making it look pretty or the obsession of press a button and send it to 50 million search engines in one (yes, exaggeration here but to make a point)but they don't bring it together.

The industry hype doesn't help though. You see endless offers of free templates and low cost do it yourself site builders and the "build it and they will come" talk doesn't help either.

As you point out, what's the point in bringing traffic to your site if it's not targeted and if your site has poor conversion statistics.

I was reading an article last week by a self-proclaimed "get the number one spot on Google" guy and he was suggesting that reciprocal links be exchanged prior to your site going live. How insane is that!


Jonathan Clayman

Private Reply to Jonathan Clayman

May 16, 2005 11:54 amSearch Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Sergej Bashir
Great Article Dean.
Please keep us updated about the progress and your future experiences.

Cheers from Bangkok
Serge

Private Reply to Sergej Bashir

May 16, 2005 11:55 amre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Adrian Fusiarski
>>> what's the point in bringing traffic to your site if it's not targeted and if your site has poor conversion statistics.>>

Johnathan has a good point here, having a Google PR of 10 and being the number 1 result for your chosen search term in the search engine results page's (SERPs !)doesn't guarantee a flood of paying customers or a flood of traffic even.

Then its down to how convincing and enticing your on page content is. What you will find though is the higher your Google PR is, the easier it gets to set up a succesful linking campaign.

Ade

Private Reply to Adrian Fusiarski

May 16, 2005 4:00 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Garland Coulson

Hi Dean,

You've hit the nail on the head!  This is why so many web sites have problems.

A successful web site, i.e. one that sells well, isn't just high ranked.  It has to have a pleasant welcoming design, great content, great copy, search engine friendly elements AND a traffic building program.  Remember that search engines results are only one source of traffic! 

The problem is that it is difficult to find a single person with all these skills.  Someone who is an amazing graphic designer might inadvertently design a site in such a way as to block search engine indexing bots.  A great search engine optimizer may change the text on your web site, but will the text still be able to convert visitors to customers well?   And will a web designer or search engine optimizer also be an expert on how to set up other traffic building techniques?

It can be expensive to hire a web designer, search engine optimizer, traffic builder AND copywriter!  This is why I teach courses and coach people on how to learn some of these areas themselves.  This lets them save money and be more knowledgeable when they hire professionals.  I also have an Internet Marketing Virtual Assistant people can hire to update their web site and set up newsletters and marketing campaigns.

In regards to your comment about linking, it is actually very difficult and time consuming to get quality links to your web site.  High ranking sites are constantly bombarded with requests from people wanting them to link to them.  I know I get these requests daily and I ignore most of them.  This is why I focus so much on writing articles.  A good article writing program will get you links from 100s of other sites without having to approach them individually.

Garland Coulson, "The E-Business Tutor"
Download my FREE e-book, "Questions to Ask Your Web Designer"
Moderator, Internet Marketing Tools

Private Reply to Garland Coulson

May 16, 2005 4:48 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Adrian Fusiarski
I have to agree with Garland...

>>>>"In regards to your comment about linking, it is actually very difficult and time consuming to get quality links to your web site. High ranking sites are constantly bombarded with requests from people wanting them to link to them. I know I get these requests daily and I ignore most of them.">>>>


The other thing that makes building a linking campaign so difficult now is there is so much spam, so its kind of made email ineffective in many ways as a marketing tool. I know personally I've unsubscribed to any email newsletters that have an RSS feed to free up the inbox and my own inbox is 'locked down' tight in my constant battle with spammers.

I think you have to be more creative in finding new ways of making your subject line in your emails and link requests 'non-spammy' so they dont end up unread in the trash.

Ade

Private Reply to Adrian Fusiarski

May 19, 2005 7:30 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

R. Nelson Fernandes
Dean,

I will not agree with your factor rankings. and here is why :

From a latest Press Source :

"" Google has recently filed a patent that details many points that Google uses to rank web pages. The title of the patent is "Information retrieval based on historical data" and it reveals details of algorithms that Google uses in addition to its main ranking algorithms.

How search results and user data can affect your rankings

The patent specification indicates that Google might track how often users click on a page when it is listed in the search results pages. Google might also track the amount of time that users spend "accessing the document".

It seems that Google might be tracking click-throughs and rewarding those sites with higher click through rates (similar to what Google does with their AdWords program).

The patent specification also indicates that Google might track the behavior of web surfers through bookmarks, cache, favorites, and temporary files (possibly with the Google toolbar and the Google desktop search tool).

The patent specification indicates that Google might track the following information:

- The volume of searches over time is recorded and monitored for increases.
- The information regarding a web page's rankings are recorded and monitored for changes.
- The click through rates are monitored for changes in seasonality, fast increases, or other spike traffic.
- The click through rates are monitored for increase or decrease trends.
- The click through rates are monitored to find out if stale or fresh web pages are preferred for a search query.
- The click through rates for web pages for a search term is recorded.
- The traffic to a web page is recorded and monitored for changes.
- The user behavior on web pages is monitored and recorded for changes (for example the use of the back button etc.).
- The user behavior might also be monitored through bookmarks, cache, favorites, and temporary files.
Bookmarks and favorites are monitored for both additions and deletions.
- The overall user behavior for documents is monitored for trends changes.
- The time a user spends on a web page might be used to indicate the quality and freshness of a web page. ""

Good links might get you a ranking but getting and staying on top of the ranks is the name of the game.

I would give equal importance to all three factors that you have mentioned to be successfully optimised. The content design and copywriting factors make a difference not just later but also initially in advancing one's SE listings and should be an inetgral part of one's SEO strategy process.


Nelson.




Private Reply to R. Nelson Fernandes

May 20, 2005 10:00 amre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

R. Nelson Fernandes
and i have experienced this first hand too. Some of my travel websites listings have climbed up gradually in time with Google when proper care was taken to incoporate proper titling and meta description as compared to those with a generic titling and description. so copywriting skills do help in SEO too.

Private Reply to R. Nelson Fernandes

May 25, 2005 4:48 pm re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Anita Cohen-Williams
In order to do well on ANY search engine, a site needs to be well designed and have good, solid content.

One reason a lot of these web sites are at the top is that they probably have bought into the Google AdWords system. That seems to automatically raise their ranking.

A good SEO campaign (BTW, Google is wrong, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, not "optimizer")includes making sure that the web site is both user and search engine friendly, that the content is solid and well written, that the meta tags are all in place, and that the web site is submitted to all the relevant search engines and directories.

It is better to get inbound links, i.e. links that are pointing to your site, rather than reciprocal links. Either way, these links are often hard to get and such a campaign can take up to a year to do.

SEO is not a one time thing. You have to constantly monitor it, and tweak the keywords. That is why it can be expensive.

Google is NOT the only search engine out there.

Anita Cohen-Williams
SEO

Private Reply to Anita Cohen-Williams

May 26, 2005 3:32 amre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Dean H.
>>>Google is NOT the only search engine out there.

That's true Anita. But the Big 3 drive most of the traffic to these websites right? You have Google, then Yahoo, and then MSN. There's a few minor ones such as AlltheWeb and Teoma, but if most of your traffic is coming from the Big 3, then why bother with any of the others?

Dean

Private Reply to Dean H.

May 30, 2005 8:02 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

R. Nelson Fernandes
"In order to do well on ANY search engine, a site needs to be well designed and have good, solid content."

yes, but in the race for the rank, many discount the importance of getting appropriately listed in the SERPs.

Getting noticed is also as important as getting listed and i hope that all website owners who will be reading this will give the due importance to the SEO perspective while setting up content.

" One reason a lot of these web sites are at the top is that they probably have bought into the Google AdWords system. That seems to automatically raise their ranking."

But Anita, why do you say that Adwords participation makes it easier for websites to get good listings. If that was the case, then wouldn't advertisers would stop investing in the Adwords programme when that happens. And wouldn't that be something which would not make good business sense for Google?



Nelson Fernandes.
<a href="http://www.mindstarnetcorp.com>SEO Consultant</a><br><br>

Private Reply to R. Nelson Fernandes

May 31, 2005 2:47 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Chen Sun
>>>Getting business from the web and having a successful search engine markting strategy should include the following factors;

-Reciprocal linking & search engine submission tactics,
-Solid Web Design,
-And pursuasive copywriting.
>>

On a basic level, you are correct. Most people, though, underestimate how much work the above 3 requires--a lot of thoughtful work. Maybe several man months, even if one understood search engines.



www.WebAndNet.com
Why Web Marketing?

Private Reply to Chen Sun

May 31, 2005 3:07 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Chen Sun
I agree with you too Nelson. Maybe Dean is discussing the basics, and you're discussing advanced methods.

www.WebAndNet.com
Why Web Marketing?

Private Reply to Chen Sun

Jun 03, 2005 2:34 amre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Craig Kiessling
I am afraid that I would have to disagree that those are the only 3 aspects...

One factor to think about when discussing the Reciprocal Linking...is Why? I mean, why do some search engines use that to gauge ranking? Just an arbitrary measurement they came up with?

No, and we all know why.

It is Content. Nothing but content.
The idea is that if all those reputable people feel in your site, as it is a clear site that does what one thinks it should do, then bingo!

If I enter in "cars" into a search engine, because I want to learn about them, the search engine wants to provide us with a listing of websites that will help us in our search.

Relevant content, keywords/phrases, headings/subheads, filenames/urls and much more...Are the most important of all in SEO...After all of that, small efforts are needed in the campaign of linking, but pays off easily, because there is no argument or question as to the site's validity.

Private Reply to Craig Kiessling

Jun 09, 2005 10:01 amre: re: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

R. Nelson Fernandes
ok chen... point taken. my motive was to update members abt the new trends and also put forth my case for dean's SEO projects. no escalation intended.

dean : i hope you have received my initial PM for your SEO consultant's requirement. I would be happy to receive some feedback abt it. (via PM please.)

rgds.

Nelson.
http://www.mindstarnetcorp.com

Private Reply to R. Nelson Fernandes

Jun 09, 2005 2:23 pmre: re: re: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Dean H.
Nelson and Chen,
I didn't see escalation ;) This is a good debate brewing. We learn more when we disagree than agree. Let's keep it up. When I finish some other stuff today, then I'll respond to Craig's recent post as well.

Dean

Private Reply to Dean H.

Jun 10, 2005 5:51 pmre: re: re: re: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Brian Gruss
I am not an expert in this by no means, but through my personal testing, I have found that content is king. If you have good solid content not only will the search engines regard you as an expert in your field and rank you accordingly, other businesses in your field will also want to link to you therefore bringing the search engines and their visitors to you. And then once you have a visitor they will also regard you as that same expert, and will want to purchase your products/services. If I were to start another company I wouldn't use a designer, but a copywriter.

Private Reply to Brian Gruss

Jun 14, 2005 11:24 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Peter Davis
Web design that "wows" can be overcome by clever use of SEO techniques. I've been watching one experiment in this, where someone has applied a simple technique to a website who's home page is in flash, and without the owner of the website even knowing, and watching the website rise in rankings over three search engines. Somehow I get really fascinated by such things. ;)

Private Reply to Peter Davis

Jun 19, 2005 4:14 amre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Dean H.
Peter,
Can you be more specific on the techniques that you are referring to?

dean

Private Reply to Dean H.

Jun 23, 2005 3:53 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Kyle Firner

Were they using a noflash tag in their CSS file?

KJF

Private Reply to Kyle Firner

Jul 01, 2005 9:51 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Tina Rawlins
Hi. Thanks for your post. I just returned from a conference with Google and Yahoo engineers. Content is important for Yahoo.. but with Google, its more about link popularity.

If you have questions or would like assistance in gaining search engine rankings. I'd be happy to do some free analysis.

Thanks,

Tina Rawlins
tina@textlinkbrokers.com
www.textlinkbrokers.com

Private Reply to Tina Rawlins

Jul 01, 2005 10:57 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Dean H.
Tina,
I'm surprised to hear that Google isn't factoring in fresh content as part of their algorithms. I've read news that are contrary to that fact and that Google loves new fresh content which is supposedly why blogs will play an important role in future algorithms, IMHO.

Dean

Private Reply to Dean H.

Jul 01, 2005 11:02 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Dean H.
>>>Web design that "wows" can be overcome by clever use of SEO techniques. I've been watching one experiment in this, where someone has applied a simple technique to a website who's home page is in flash, and without the owner of the website even knowing, and watching the website rise in rankings over three search engines. Somehow I get really fascinated by such things. ;

Peter,
I think that the only idea that I can think of overcoming a frontpage with all flash on it is the use of Google Bombing. If that's the case, those rankings can drop just as quickly as they rose.

dean

Private Reply to Dean H.

Jul 01, 2005 11:18 pmre: re: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Tina Rawlins
I have found that fresh content just helps the spider come to your site more often. Sites such as Dmoz.org does not refresh their content per say except for small amounts when links are added and what not.

Content is more for Yahoo in my opinion. With MSN.. I had a site that was nothing but an image and it ranked really well in MSN. Linking however.. is the most weighted ranking factor.. all the smaller factors are simply to try and eliminate spam.

Tina.

Private Reply to Tina Rawlins

Jul 02, 2005 4:20 pmre: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

Garland Coulson

Google recently put an aging delay on ranking new domain names.  The reason for this is that many people were artificially inflating their ranking by using automated "link farms."  So now Google is suspicious of new domain names that suddenly have 1,000s of sites linking to them.

So a new site may rank well for a day or so, then disappear from the rankings for 6-8 months while Google makes sure the domain and links are legitimate.

Garland Coulson, "The E-Business Tutor"
Download my FREE e-book, "
Questions to Ask Your Web Designer"
Moderator,
Internet Marketing Tools

Private Reply to Garland Coulson

Jul 25, 2005 2:18 pmre: re: Search Engine Optimization and proper web design go hand in hand?#

R. Nelson Fernandes
very much true. Google recently seems to have made some changes to it's algorithms recently which have affected not only the new sites being held for reviews but also one's with already present rankings. Some site's with good ranks for popular keywords have reported a noticeable drop down in their rankings (incuding mine :( ). Seems like listings are being changed more frequently for common popular keywords to keep the user interest levels high. A clear indication for Website owners and optimiser's to be on their toes all the more with Google.

The aging delay or also known as the Google Sandbox, is yet another factor affecting SERP listings for new sites. And can also scare the hell out of any website owner.

here is a link to a recent article about it which also includes some handy tips to get out of it asap.

Nelson Fernandes
SEO Consultant

Private Reply to R. Nelson Fernandes

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