Everyone who’s anyone on the internet these days has their own two-cents on website design and development, SEO, and marketing in general. SEO content providers and firms, self-proclaimed ‘social media marketing gurus’, and amateur web designers-all share a common goal, yet very few of them ever realize the full potential of their work.
Whether they’re lacking in talent, technique, or plain motivation, they usually make the mistake of A. using outdated, outmoded web marketing strategies B. using a great marketing strategy but employing a user-unfriendly website C. not understanding the one of the most fundamental rules ever (everything in moderation!) and/or lacking motivation and adequate training or D. doing all the above.
Ten Basic Steps to Website Design and Development Paradise
I. Consider your web site’s homepage as the Holy Grail of your site. If no other single page is carefully and thoughtfully laid out for the visitor, always give 110% to the homepage. Which would you prefer to visit: a site that’s uncluttered and easy on the eye, with cleverly designed little pull-down or -out menus, and has easy-to-navigate [unbroken] links—or one that’s rife with mismatched pastels, broken links, pre-Web 1.0 (probably pre-ARPANET) programming and scripting, and in-your-face ads abound?
II. Place keywords and related keywords/phrases in a strategic way-this means use every iteration of keywords and phrases VERY sparingly. Google, for example, uses a process called Latent Semantic Index to automatically weed out keyword stuffed articles. Every bit of content on your site should be relative, in one form or another, with one another-and Meta Tags: forget they exist and don’t even think about this thing of antiquity.
III. When in doubt, remember the cardinal rule: less is ALWAYS more. Put another-and perhaps better-way, give them MORE with less. If you don’t understand the context behind this one, you’ve got a long road ahead of you.
IV. Whitespace, it’s that nirvana around all of your content that lets it “breath”, and keeps visitors from wanting to gauge their eyes out: use it. Anything that’s sparkly, blinking, going side-to-side or up-and-down and well, you get the point; just refrain from doing it.
V. Back-links and off- and on-page anchors are important tools to use-but make sure that they’re inbound and outbound, to and from quality, reputable sites that rank high with Google.
VI. The 3-column layout is almost always a winner.
VII. Website templates are great for novice-to-intermediate developers (in other words, those who can’t grasp the most technical details of, for instance-RoR, SQL, or JAVA). Expertly crafted ones help you save time and money-and we all know that time = money concept, right?-as well as deliver functionality and navigational ease that would otherwise be extremely time consuming. The downside to templates, though, is that many times they’re not that SEO-friendly, especially when they contain more code for multimedia than text. Google searches text, not images or Flash. Customization is usually quite limited as well.
VIII. Per the conventional wisdom, never discount the awesome power of all of the “Facebooks” out there. Get your website involved at the personal level; offer giveaways and other relevant, rapport-building tidbits to users (potential customers).
IX. Check out Google Trends and Google Insights for Search. They are completely free resources that list, rank, organize, categorize, and do so many more things nifty things concerning trending keywords/keyphrases.
X. Finally, keep Alexa.com in your bookmarks; hence, you’ll be on the right path to a thriving, vibrant, SEO-friendly website.