SEO vs Website Design

Search Engine Optimisation Vs. Website Design - The Dilemma

We've all gone to the Search Engines and performed a search on our keyword or keyphrase, and found that  when we click on the number one result, the page is drab and boring - just text and links - no pictures - no style. Infact you may think these sites look unprofessional.


Conversely, you may know of a really whizzy looking website with a flash movie introduction, fantastic products and innovative ideas, that never seems to come up in the search results. In terms of which site would someone trust and spend their money at, in the vast majority of cases, it would be the latter, because they look like a big, professional operation, deserving of trust.

And here lies the SEO vs Website Design Dilemma.

The first site has probably been deliberately designed that way so that it is optimized for the search Engines, hence the high ranking. This website will likely receive very high volumes of website traffic as a result of its search engine placement, but unfortunately, very few visitors will actually buy from this web site and therefore the click to sales ratio will be very high.

The second website, on the other hand has probably been designed with purely the human visitor in mind, which often means that the Search Engines cannot give it a high placement, because they can't read what's on the pages. So this site probably converts many of it's visitors into sales, but sadly, doesn't receive enough visitors to get the volume of sales it would like.

Resolving the Dilemma

Let's take a look at what Human visitors have in common with Search Engines:

What Search Engines Like
  • Clean Code
  • Lot's of text (Spider Food)
  • Clear Internal Linking Structure
  • Small Page Sizes (certainly less than 100kb and much much smaller if possible)
What Human Visitors Like
  • Pictures & Graphics
  • Easy Navigation
  • Professional Image
  • Fast Loading Sites
  • Lot's of relevant information
  • Interactive / Dynamic pages

 What Search Engines Dislike or Ignore

  • Pictures
  • Movies
  • Dynamic pages
  • Javascript & DHTML
  • Overly "optimized" pages

 What Human Visitors Dislike or Ignore

  • Adverts & Pop Ups
  • Irrelevant overly repetitive text
  • Slow loading pages
  • Messy Inharmonious Styling

The solution - a website needs

  • Lot's of (relevant) text (information),
  • Clean simple code,
  • Fast loading pages,
  • To be designed to present a professional image
  • To make moderate use of graphics and interactivity
  • Easy to navigate without the use of Javascript or DHTML

A Website designed this way will manage to sufficiently impress the human eye without deterring the search Engine robot from it's mission.

We call this "Striking the Balance". When planning your website, first think of your human vistitor and plan what you want them to see, and then see if this can be achieved in a way which will enable the search engine robots to see it too !

A good example of the balance between visual appeal to the human eye and Robot appeal, is our navigation menu, which can be seen on our web page, it has a level of dynamic movement and interactivity, without using javascript or DHTML and can be adapted to include pop out sub menus.

Article Search Engine Optimisation Vs. Website Design - The Dilemma
by Sales & Marketing 365

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what they say ...

Thanks for designing a site that brings us into the 21st Century! and for your patience & help along the way.

Mike - Systems Administrator,
Bristol Bending

I wish to thank Annette Read at S.A.M. 365 Ltd, for assisting me in discovering the source of the problem. Annette, thank you very much for your help. Your suggestion did the trick.

Kenneth L. Anderson,
President - Ten Spider Enterprises
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