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WiSEO / SEO Guide / Design & Architecture Optimization

Design & Architecture Optimization

When developing a website's design and structure, there are several useful tools that allow more efficient and effective traversing of the site. In order to allow your content to be properly indexed, we describe the tools to consider. These include: responsive design, Flash, JavaScript (considering which is the best to employ); why it is advisable to use CSS instead of Graphical Menus; why you want to use content management systems (CMS); how to arrange content placement, and other important aspects of website development and structure. Each section is broken down for your review.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is an approach to website design that allows users to view all of the content on a certain site, regardless of platform (agnostic). Responsive web design, at its most basic, is a combination of adjustable screen resolutions and resizable images that can be stretched, squashed or even overlapped to allow users to navigate a website without having to zoom in and out to see the entire content of the page if they are on a mobile device or tablet.

Responsive design achieves this flexibility through a number of means--most importantly by dividing portions of a website up into fluid grids and flexible images. When a user accesses the website using a device with a wider screen, like a personal computer, the elements within the grid will expand to fill the new area. Similarly, when the screen is smaller, like the display of a mobile phone, those same elements can decrease, becoming narrower, or even be re-organized entirely while still displaying the same information.

Responsive website design allows webmasters to avoid creating separate pages for PC, mobile phone and tablet users. More and more devices have mobile access to the internet, making the use of responsive web design increasingly beneficial, and often necessary. Utilizing responsive design can also help prevent lowered ranking by avoiding the serving of duplicate content to the search engines.

Despite its many positive features, employing responsive website design may not always be the best choice for webmasters and website owners. Implementing this sort of web design takes a significant amount of time, technical and development know-how and, often a team of designers to execute it properly. For smaller websites with lower budgets, responsive web design might not be the correct choice. Websites that display a particularly large amount of content can also have difficulty with responsive website design, as heavy content quantity can be difficult to insert into resizable grids. Also, if a website has a complex user interface or navigation system, such as Amazon, it becomes increasingly difficult to resize the screen appropriately.

Flash

Flash is one of the technologies that became popular in the 2000's and caused a lot of havoc for organic search engine rankings, as websites solely based on Flash could not provide what the search engines needed to properly evaluate the contents of the site/page. So, if you are going to use Flash, make sure that your entire site is not comprised of Flash, and that you are only using Flash components that are not going to take the place of your main content.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a great tool, especially with the advent of web 2.0 and modern web interfaces. It allows for the creation of dynamic web pages; however, it can have drawbacks when it comes to SEO. Since not all search engines process JavaScript the same way and to the same extent, it is important to try and minimize the amount key content that requires using JavaScript, because if content generated by JavaScript is not visible to the search engines, then that may be an opportunity missed when it comes to search engine rankings. It is important to consider how JavaScript is utilized in your content delivery system to make sure that you are not leaving the indexing of important content to chance.

CSS Instead of Graphical Menus

Images are powerful tools for making a visual impact; however, it is important to make sure that it is not at the expense of the search engine friendliness of the website. So instead of using full image-based menus, why not utilize cascading style sheets, to not only make your navigational menus visually impressive, but also search engine friendly.

CMS Selection

Using a content management system (CMS) can make the life of a site owner much easier, and, once set up, require less support from a webmaster for maintenance and updates. However, picking the wrong content management system, or setting it up in a manner not conducive to good search engine rankings, can be detrimental to the website's ranking ability. So it is important to make sure to pick the right content management system for your needs while keeping its search engine friendliness in the forefront of your decision-making process. As a hint for anyone uncertain, there is almost never a good reason to not pick WordPress as a content management platform, unless you would like to develop your custom system. Making your own custom CMS can be costly, but will give you exactly what you need/want without much (if any) bulky code.

Content Placement

Search engines go through web page HTML from top to bottom and from left to right, so it is important to give the crawlers as much content as close to the top of your HTML code as possible. This way, the crawler does not have to wade through extraneous code to parse out the content which it is going to use to determine what the page is about, which will ultimately impact the site's ability to rank well in the search engine result pages.

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