A recent study I came across said that 2011 is going to be the year of websites. So if you don’t have one or yours could do with a refresh, now is the time to get the ball rolling.
The folks at Search Engine People sum up the situation perfectly – “The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so it’s useless to pretend that others don’t, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.”
Here are some tips to making your website appealing to visitors and the search engine crawler:
As our lives get busier and busier, searchers don’t have time to wait for your site to load. Your website should not take more than 15 seconds to load, otherwise you can kiss your visitors goodbye.
With so many computer types available these days, screen resolution size can vary greatly. They can range from 640 x 480 to 1024 x 768 and go even higher. The task for you is to produce a site suitable for all resolutions. Sound tricky? I came across a great resource here that will help you out.
- Get creative with page titles
These days, forgetting to name a web page is inexcusable. Search engines use the title of a page as a factor in the ranking algorithm, so you would be crazy to not have a valid name for each page on your website. Use your main keywords and write with the search engines and customers in mind. For example, this is the title for our SEO service page.
Using the keywords ‘SEO’, ‘search engine optimization’, ‘top rankings’ and ‘ineedhits’, our page title helps the search engines and visitors easily determine what information is on the page.
- Avoid bright and fancy fonts
How many times have you seen a website with bright red font on a black background? Unfortunately, they are all too common and look terrible, not to mention impossible to read. I suggest sticking to neutral colours (white, black, grey) and a font that is available on all computers. The most common, professional and easiest to read fonts are Arial and Verdana.
Stick with JPEGs and GIFs images between 5 and 20 k. Just remember your visitors may leave if they have to constantly wait for images to download.
These are the pieces of text that appear when you hover your cursor over a picture. While ALT tags are quite common in emails where some email clients automatically turn off images, they also play a similar role in websites. Think about those who turn of graphics when browsing or people with a visual impairment who are likely to use a text-to-speech web browser that uses these tags to interpret graphics. In both cases, ALT tags play a massive role in ensuring all the information you provide gets to the visitor.
I’ve really only scratched the surface when it comes to website design, so if you have any other suggestions, feel free to share them with your fellow readers.