How Search Engines See Your Web Design

by Ed Tsunoda on October 5, 2009

Sure, it’s beautiful to the eye, but how do search engines see your web site? Search engines spiders are designed to see your site in a way that rates the usability and relevance of your site compared to similar sites, relative to the specific search terms entered.

A lot of the functionality and usability of your web site can be measured by how the search engines index your site, how you show up in search results, and how much relevant content is currently being shown on your site.

Unfortunately, search engines can only see text, not things that are embedded in images or flash pieces, so while your site might look beautiful in the static Photoshop mock-up your design firm presents you with, the reality is that no matter how beautiful it looks, if it can’t be seen by search engines, it won’t be seen by people. Search engines prioritize as most relevant, the text it sees closest to the top of your site, so having big images or Flash pieces in the main content areas of your web pages is a disaster. To the search engines, it means you have no content there. No matter how beautiful the images are, or the layout is, if its embedded in an image, it’ not there when the search engines check out your site.

So how can you tell if your designer is doing a good job of getting the keywords and relevant text about your site up front and present so you can see it?

At Untraditional Media, we like to recommend using a web tool called seo-browser.com. seo-browser.com lets you look at your site and your perspective designers sites as search engines see them, so you can tell in advance, before you write the check, if your designer does a good job on search engine visibility.

Check out how it works:

First take a look at seo-browser.com and type in untraditionalmedia.com:

http://www.seo-browser.com/results.php?user_agent=1&address=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.untraditionalmedia.com%2F&action=Parse+URL

Then, do a Google search for the predominant terms as search engines see it, in our case “Web Sites for Treasure Coast Businesses”

http://www.google.com/search?q=web+sites+for+treasure+coast+businesses

the seo-browser.com results show a nice clean readable page for search engines, with clear text, navigation, relevant keywords, etc., and it pays off in good search engine positioning when you search for phrases relevant to our business.

Try it on your site, and your design firms site. If they’re not designing even their own site to be visible to search engines, they probably won’t design your site so the search engines can see it either. Even if they claim to be providing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) they may not be, and seo-browser.com gives you a tool so you can check to see if they are actually creating web sites that are optimized for search engines or not, instead of just taking their word for it.

And, as a rule of thumb, if there’s nothing but images ‘above the fold’ when you first get to a web site, it means the search engines see nothing at all, no matter how beautiful it looks to the human eye.

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