by: John Buchanan
one of the biggest mistakes webmasters make when first
starting out on the web is in the design of their site. This is
extremely understandable, considering that, in the brick and
mortar world, a business's success is often dependent on it's
appearance. The more money put into the look and design of a
business, the better it often does.
this doesn't completely transfer over into the
world of the web. In the world of the web, there is a huge
difference between creating an aesthetically pleasing site, and
creating a site that is going to be functional and have the best
possibility for success.
too often, when people first begin on the web, they
their site as if to be a work of art. Making sure it has lots of
these things can definitely create a beautiful site, they are
also some of the biggest hindrances to a business's success.
On the net, there are two key things a webmaster must always
keep in mind when designing a site; the visitor and the search
engines. If a visitor has to wait to long for a page to download
or a search engine can't properly index a site, it doesn't
matter how beautiful and informative the site is, it will not
generate the business needed to survive, much less excel.
look at a few of the most common things you should be
broadband access is gaining ground, at least half of
internet users still use dial up connections. This means that
the majority of a sites visitors will be downloading the pages
at about 3-4 kilobytes per second.
is estimated that if a page doesn't load within 8-10
you will lose 1/3 of your visitors. That means that a page
should not be any more than 30 kilobytes total including text,
backgrounds, and other images, are great, but if they
are causing your pages to load too slowly, they are doing you
more harm than good. Quite honestly, your visitors do not care
about your logo, graphics, backgrounds etc. They are there for
one reason and one reason only....to see what you can offer them.
you must use graphics keep their file size as small
possible by optimizing the graphics to the utmost extent
possible and keeping the image size small.
*Splash Pages/Flash Intros*
are the bane of the internet. If you have a splash page
whether its made up of a large graphic or a pretty flash intro,
you are crippling your chances. Design firms often love to talk
their clients into these pages because they get to be creative
(oh..and charge more).
truth is, creating one of these pages as the entrance
your site is one of the single worst things you can do. Visitors
hate splash pages, because they often take too long to download
and they don't provide with the visitor with anything. Remember,
the visitor is there for one reason, to see what you have to
offer them and get the information they are seeking. A huge
graphic doesn't answer any of their questions, it only delays
Flash into is much the same, while it will generally
very quickly, it still delays the visitor in finding what he or
she is looking for.
of the biggest rules you should remember is to keep
amount of clicks a visitor must make to get to quality
information down to a bare minimum. With every successive click
a visitor must make, there is more of a chance he/she will give
up and go somewhere else.
seen many reports from different sites that used (notice
the past tense) Flash Intro pages. Hardly surprising is the fact
that on average, a whopping 20%-30% of the visitors left the
site after accessing ONLY the homepage (where the splash page or
flash intro was).
second reason to stay away from these is that it has
affect on search engines. Search engines can only index text, a
huge graphic or flash intro doesn't give the engines anything to
index. As a result the homepage, which is often the highest
ranking page on a site, has almost no chance of ranking well at
all. In addition, depending on how the links from the graphic or
flash to internal pages are coded, the engines may not be able
to follow the links to the rest of the pages on the site which
means your site will not get spidered properly.
summarize, stay away from splash pages and flash intro's.
Give the visitor some actual text to read and the engines
something to index. Your visitor retention will go up, and so
will your search engine traffic.
are your bread and butter when dealing with the
search engines. They are the way in which search engines find
all of the pages on your site and index them. If a search engine
can't follow a hyperlink, it won't be able to index the
destination page, meaning parts of your site may become
invisible to the engines.
sure to use only true hyperlinks in your site. I've
hyperlinks. While these will work for most browsers (about 90%),
they don't give the engines anything to follow.
A true hyperlink should say:
href="URL of page here.html"
other type of link is most likely not going to be followed
I mentioned before, engines can only index text. Too
see sites that use graphic representations of text or a large
graphic that has some of their most important text within it. Do
whatever you can to stay away from this. If your most important
words are in graphic format, you have taken away the thing that
the engines need most to properly index and rank your site.
also want to see continuity in the structure of a page.
When a webmaster uses lots of tables, frames, and other design
elements, it breaks up the flow of the text on the page, and can
have a negative effect on your rankings.
possible, use as few tables as possible. When you do
use tables, do your best to not break up a paragraph or sentence
into separate cells in a table, this destroys the flow of the
text and causes the words to be seen as unrelated fragments
instead of part of the same continuous sentence/paragraph.
is important to realize that engines do not see the
same way a visitor does. While the visitor sees the page
displayed properly with all of the next flowing nicely, an
engine sees only the HTML code behind the page that breaks up
the flow of the text.
general, the simpler the page and the HTML behind it,
better the ranking will be.
be sure to be aware of the impact that a particular
design element will have on both your visitors and the ability
of the engines to properly index your site.
understanding how the engines work, what they look for,
they can and can't do, you will vastly increase your chances of
successfully achieving the rankings needed to make your business
John Buchanan is the author of the book "The Insider's Guide to
Dominating The Search Engines", and publisher of "The Search
Engine Bulletin", a FREE monthly newsletter. Visit him at
http://www.se-secrets.com for more information or to sign up for
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