5 writing habits to avoid

5 Signs Your Web Designer Knows Nothing About SEO

Finding a web designer that understands SEO and incorporates SEO into the design of your website is a rare find. When you’re building your website you want to make sure you’re getting that ultimate sweet spot between designing a beautiful looking site, that’s easy to use whilst also incorporating both Organic and Technical SEO best practices. Because, of course, one without the other simply won’t cut it! After all, what’s the point in spending a fair bit of money on a brand spanking new site that no one can find?

So when you’re picking your web designer, if they mention any of the following, axe them before you can say “search engine optimisation!”

1. Search Engines LOVE Flash and incorrect HTML and CSS elements…don’t they?

First things first: crawling. When you’re interviewing a potential web-designer, you MUST ask the following:

In regards to Search Engine’s crawling and indexing our site, what kind of code will you be using to render the major design elements?”

Big words, we know. But this is a seriously important question. Without a correct response to this ever-important question, you may find yourself in a lot of trouble further down the line. If your developer suggests any of the following, say goodbye:

  1. Flash
  2. Javascript
  3. The code doesn’t matter
  4. I’m great at coding, don’t worry about that.

Big, big no. Bad web developer! Search engines cannot index stuff in Flash, they don’t execute Javascript too well, and it matters that they use the correct HTML and CSS coding to create major design elements, and can negatively impact your site’s page speed (check out our Google Lighthouse Blog here).

How disappointing would it be, if you set your site live to find out that it can’t be indexed due to your HTML navigation being triggered by Javascript, and can’t be accessed by search engines because of the flash used within the pages code?

Make sure your web-designer knows his stuff before getting stuck in on coding your design.

2. Let’s make your homepage image-heavy, shall we?

After you’ve cleared up the answer to the whole “what coding should we look into” question, let’s move onto the next step: content.

“What would you recommend for home page content?”

Home pages serve more than one purpose, and actually adding content to this page is really important for SEO and crawl-ability  purposes, as well as for users. However, if your developer says any of the following, you should look else where:

Your homepage should just be a splash page asking the user whether or not they want the Flash version of the site, or the HTML version

  1. Your homepage should be a splash page with a one-time introduction that is bypassed once the site has been able to place a cookie into the user’s browser.
  2. Your homepage should be copy-less with some really snazzy high-definition photos of your products that play via an embedded Flash player, with a link to the “contact” page.
  3. Your homepage will be great with many links and picture movies.

All of these – no. Splash pages truly are an SEO nightmare. Think of basically locking your site behind a door from crawlers – the splash page acts as a front page to the rest of your site, so you create not only duplicate content issues, but think even bigger: the splash page acts as a total void of non indexable copy. Therefore all of the beautifully scripted content you create is going to get locked from search engines, all due to the splash page.

On top of all of this, search engines don’t download cookies, so in case suggestion two comes along, crawlers will never get past the splash page or being to index any internal pages on the site. So basically, none of your site will index. Leading to…not listings in the search engine results page! Nightmare! Terror! Turn back now! If you’re not sure how to implement SEO for sites with little to no content, then this blog is for you.

3. Sorry, what’s a redirect?

By now you should be scared of this web designer. Flash, splash pages, the wrong type of coding – please run. However, if you’re still planning on torturing yourself with asking this designer more questions, we’d recommend the next step would be to ask them about their SEO knowledge. Many designers pride themselves on their knowledge of SEO, and say they incorporate SEO features into the site (we’ve found most of this untrue) whilst they’re building out the website. Therefore, best thing to do is test their knowledge – see if they can actually walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk. We’d recommend:

“What’s the difference between a 301 redirect and a 302 redirect?”

A pretty standard SEO question if we say so ourselves. Although user experience is the same for both kinds of redirects, only one passes across that lovely SEO benefit of inbound links (also known as sweet, sweet link juice): the 301 redirect. The 301 redirect is a permanent link type, so as soon as this link is popped in place, that’s it – kiss goodbye to the page you’ve redirected. Whereas a 302 redirect is temporary – so if you’re looking at a sale page that only happens once a year (like Black Friday), you can find a page that’s appropriate to set 302 redirect this page to until you need it again!

If you’re developer is saying any of the following, please, please, turn them out on their ear:

There is no difference between a 301 and 302 redirect – they both do the same thing.
No need to worry about redirects. We’ll take care of it
Heard of a meta refresh redirect? Everyone’s using them now!

Redirects are SO important for so many factors: link equity, domain authority, user experience and site migrations. Know your redirects!

4. URL structure doesn’t really matter much to SEO

“What will the URLS look like?”

Surely, this is a straightforward, easy to answer question. They should follow structure, be keyword-rich and reflect the page they’re mapped to. Oh, how developers get this wrong. We’ve heard responses like:

It depends on how users get to the page. There are loads of parameters we’re going to add and you don’t need to worry about it. They will be dynamically generated – search engines don’t mind that. Lot’s of sites use dynamically generated URLs.

Search engines really, really, really DO CARE about the way your URLs are structured. Dynamic URLs are just asking for trouble. Search engines can’t index a URL that is always changing – still to static URLs that replicate the layout of your site and the page it’s associated with.

5, SEO is a piece of cake!

Finally, if your web designer is bragging about how easy SEO is, please, show them the door. If you get any of the following, don’t feel bad about kicking them out of the premises:

  1. SEO can be done after the design process is complete, so don’t worry about it now.
  2. SEO is SO EASY! We do it all the time – don’t worry.
  3. SEO is as complicated as website, so I can’t really explain it to you as you won’t understand.
  4. I promise that if we design your site, you’ll rank in position 1. I swear.

SEO needs to taken into consideration at every step of the way – you’ll get way more for your money if the foundations of your site are SEO friendly. SEO is really not easy – that’s why you get the experts (us!) to do it for you. It’s time consuming, and forever changing – even if your web designer knew what he was doing 1 year ago, he definitely won’t know what he’s doing now with the amount of SEO changes happening. Also, anyone who claims they can guarantee rankings is a liar. And full of it.

If you’ve experienced any of the above, we know how you feel, and you’re not alone! There are so many ways your site rebuild, restructure or creation can go wrong – but we’re here to help. Contact us today if you’re looking for SEO solutions for your website, and we can help you to find the perfect strategy for the best outcome.

*FYI, we don’t hate developers.