Don’t let your developer’s lack of Search Engine Optimisation knowledge penalise the results you website delivers for you.

We always try to impress on potential customers that the effectiveness of a web design is determined by more than just the visual elements: instead it is a careful balance of design, structure, content and technical implementation (and thereafter a myriad of ‘off-site’ factors).
Just recently we’ve been asked for advice on a couple of brand new websites that weren’t ranking; after a very brief investigation it was clear that the original developers had a shocking lack of SEO knowledge. Don’t fall into the same trap…

One example, produced by a Peterborough based design company (note design, not web design) was, in all honesty, stunning: it clearly took a lot of effort to create and cost a lot of money. Unfortunately the developer had developed the entire site using Flash technology. Flash is great for adding visual adornments to a website, such as slideshows and videos, but all the search engines struggle to ‘read it’ – it is very much a visual medium. So, in this case, the only way the web site could be found was by searching for the site name itself because the search engines couldn’t see any content to index the site by. What was worse, however, was what showed up in these search results. Google uses the content it can see on a page to create the ‘fragment’ that it displays for each site it lists. People scan these to determine which link to click on in the search results. In this case the only readable content on the page in which the Flash was embedded was the copyright, so that is all that appeared on screen. And worse – the developer had, incorrectly, listed the copyright as being their own, so the snippet that appeared merely proudly announced the site as belonging to them: a very confusing message for any potential customer, presuming they ever found the site in the first place. And the only real solution to this problem: throw the whole lot away and start from scratch with a less beautiful but more Search Engine friendly site.

Admittedly this is an extreme case, but most sites we come across – even brand new ones – are far from perfect when it comes to optimisation; so make sure when you are developing or re-developing a website that you pick a developer who understands what Search Engine Optimisation is all about; after all, it might make the difference between the success and failure of your business.