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Website Design, most people just don't get it - Part 2

While search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on text quality and density, web design focuses on appearance and aesthetics. Designers loathe text-cluttered web pages. They like images stand out on their own. Business professionals have little time for images, on the other hand. Images, of course, can be optimized for search engines by adding relevant alt or title attributes, but this is not enough for a site to be optimized correctly. Web page text is still the most important factor for SEO.

You are caught in the middle of this conflict as a business owner. For your website to turn potential visitors into click-through participants (who,hopefully, will make a purchase, right?), there is no middle ground: you need to get design and optimization both right.

To be competitive, you cannot have one or the other. Without optimization your website may as well be invisible to search engines and, therefore to your potential customers. Conversely, without a good design your website may be visible but it will only receive hits. Fickle web users finding nothing of interest on your website they will just continue on to the next website. Having a beautiful website no one can find is like having a store and keeping the doors locked. You know it is there, you've done a great job decorating it, the products are waiting for the customers, yet no one comes in.

When you pay for web design don't automatically assume that by paying thousands of dollars on a layout you'll be a hit on the Web. The Web is a highly competitive place. There are already thousands entrepreneurs who, just like you, invest in design and hope to become the new "it." Without online marketing (SEO being an important part of the discipline) all these entrepreneurs will remain in the shadow, with their beautiful websites closed to the world.

SEO is the key to that virtual door you need to open for your customers. It is important that you consider this tool when you first conceive your site. Web design and SEO don't need to be enemies. Find a firm that employs both web designers and SEO professionals who work together to develop a good business website, a site that is SEO ready, accessible and readable with any browser. Choose a company that answers your questions in a timely manner and proves a clear ability to design with a clear understanding of online trends and realities.

At this stage, balancing content with visual appearance should be a realistic achievement. Choice of font style with graphics and colors that harmonize with your website layout are key to your project. However, if your website is not SEO-ready from the first stage of the project you'll face additional costs after you launch. SEO ready means a site that is properly coded (errors in the HTML code might stop some search bots from indexing your site correctly), with good navigability and internal link structure.

If your business is brand-conscious, the broader question is what works best to convert visitors into clients? Studies show that over optimized pages may inhibit the ranking your website is given by many search engines.

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