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Graphic Design Flaws to Avoid When Optimizing Websites for Search Engines

Aug 5, 2008
If you have a business website, its design is extremely important. Undoubtedly, you want a website that is visually appealing. It's the main reason why the web-designing business has grown in the last decade. Savvy web-builders with a flair for graphic design are in high demand. However, catchy graphic design is only one element to running a successful web business. In fact, sometimes graphic design can actually hinder a website's ability to reach its intended audience. It's important to choose a web designer who is artistic as well as search-engine friendly.

The statistics vary depending on which expert you believe. However, it's safe to assume that about fifty percent of your website's visitors will find you via a search engine. Therefore, a high search-engine ranking is vital. Your site must rank in the first page. Otherwise you're unlikely to garner any traffic at all from that search engine. If you can land in the top three listings, your chances increase dramatically.

The problem with many websites lies in their graphic design. Search engines cannot index the graphics on a page. They can only crawl text. If a page is loaded with graphic design or pictures but has little text, search engines will ignore it. No matter how visually appealing the website may be, it may get largely overlooked. A balance between graphic design and text is essential to achieve a good search engine ranking.

Sometimes web designers get carried away with the graphic design element of a website. Consequently, they downplay or ignore the only element that search engines can index. Website owners end up with a flashy site that can't be located on the first ten pages of a search query.

What site owners should aim for instead is a balance between graphic design and text. Graphic design should enhance but not overpower any given page of a website. It should be thought of as the background, not the focus of a web page/site. When you plan your website, keep these things in mind:

* Strive for 300 to 700 words of text per page. Less, and there may be too few words to index. More, and search engine robots may get overwhelmed. The text should be one solid block. You can have smaller blocks of text elsewhere as long as there is one large block on the page.

* Keep pictures small. If you need to put pictures on a page (i.e. a web catalog of products), use thumbnail versions. This leaves more room for text. It also helps your pages to load faster. Visitors who want to see larger images can simply click on the thumbnail version.

* Avoid flash player. Flash player is a favorite of some technically-savvy web designers. It may be fun for her or him to put his flair for graphic design to work this way. However, some visitors cannot view flash player images. Flash player video cannot be indexed either. If you feel the need to use flash player, make it optional for your visitors to click on. Make sure there is still text on the page that can be crawled and indexed.

Remember: Balance is the key. Graphic design should never overpower or choke out text on a web page. Impressive graphics and images are useless if your audience can't find your site in the first place.
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