How to Design Search Engine Optimized Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is commonly viewed as a complex and difficult subject by web designers  generally, and is often neglected. On the other hand, many web designers claim that they build ‘search engine friendly’ website. The fact is that not every "search engine friendly" website is search engine "optimized."

The design of your website has a profound influence of how search engines crawl the site and its ranking in SERP (search engine result pages).  It is essential to critically review the site design elements to make sure your website is optimized for search engines.

Below are some proven SEO techniques to make your website search engine optimized.

Site Navigation

The architecture of your website has a huge influence on its SEO capability.

The most important factor to consider in navigation should be to avoid using navigation styles that make it difficult for the search engines to crawl through your pages. Navigation developed in Flash or JavaScript should be strictly avoided. These types of navigation may look appealing, but they are difficult for the search engine spiders to crawl. Navigation structures developed using XHTML and CSS are search-engine friendly.

Your website’s depth is another factor to be considered. Depth refers to the maximum number of clicks necessary to reach any page from the home page. In general, a shallow website (which requires three  or fewer clicks to reach every page) is preferable to a deep website. Keep your site navigation hierarchy as flat as feasible.

Link Pyramid

For a large website, managing the depth of your website through navigation hierarchy alone is not possible. You can also decrease your site’s depth through the use of internal linking. Internal links offer opportunities to use keyword-rich anchor texts throughout your site. The internal links can be placed on right side bar (preferable) or the footer of the page.

The optimal structure for a website would look similar to a pyramid (where the top node is homepage. It increases the ranking potential for each page by allowing link juice to flow through the entire site.

URL Structure

Incorporating your  target keywords in url structure confers an SEO benefit.

HTML websites / static websites

Each file name should include your target keyword. Multiple words should be separated with dashes, rather than underscores, as the search engines may interpret words separated by underscores as a single word

Dynamic Websites :

If your website is large, it is not feasible to develop and maintain a HTML website. It calls for a database driven website, which in turn will generate dynamic urls. A dynamic url will have characters like: ? = &.  Most such websites are developed using a content management system (CMS). Many enterprise-level content management systems are a nightmare when it comes to SEO, churning out URLs like

www.mysite.com/IWCatProductPage.process?
Merchant_Id=1&Section_Id=691&Product_Id=7819251&
Parent_Id=531&default_color=RED&sort_by=§catcolor=&
sectionsize=

The above bad example is drawn from an actual retailer’s website.

It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few. Wherever possible, avoid the use of session IDs in URLs. CMS like Wordpress and Joomla have built in facility to generate search-engine friendly urls.

Which is better : static or dynamic URLs?

It is not quite true that static or static-looking URLs are  an advantage for indexing and ranking sites. This is based on the presumption that search engines have issues with crawling and analyzing dynamic URLs. Google recommends to avoid reformatting a dynamic URL to make it look static. Googlebot can crawl dynamic URLs and interpret the different parameters. There is no limit on the number of parameters, but a good rule of thumb would be to keep your URLs short (this applies to all URLs, whether static or dynamic).

However other search engines such as Bing would have issues crawling and indexing dynamic URLs. In addition, dynamic URLs do not provide the same opportunity for SEO (can be made to contain keywords), usability (enjoys higher click-through rates in the SERPs) or portability (easier to copy, paste and share ) that rewritten, keyword-optimized URLs do. Hence it is advisable to optimize urls by rewriting them to static form.

But make sure you rewrite URLs properly, and not mess it such that your users and search engines will struggle to find content properly on your site.

Use Text over Images

As far as possible, use text in content  instead of images files, since search engine spiders cannot “view”  the text in an image file.

Site Map

Your website should have an HTML and XML sitemap. These sitemaps help search engines crawl/index your site and help users to find content.  Sitemap pages can make your website user-friendly. Navigating large sites can often be cumbersome and many people   simply use sitemaps to find what they are looking for.

Author Bio: Anand is the managing partner of Ananya SEO Services. Prior to starting Ananya, Anand worked in marketing  for over 20 years in software services companies in India. Ananya offers affordable SEO packages and Google Adwords Management