About a year or two ago I had a potential client contact me to inquire about our services. They had heard a lot about us and were really interested in our services for their website marketing. But our discussions ended up hitting a snag before we could get a contract signed. In fact, I basically told them that we were not the ones to be able to help them.
What was the snag? They were unwilling to make any changes to the visible look of their website. They said they had poured thousands of dollars into the design and they liked it exactly the way it was.
That’s fair and understandable. When you pour so much money into developing the “perfect website”, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that it may not be so perfect after all. While it may be great visibly, you may have to make changes in order to make it search engine friendly. That’s the danger of designing without your SEOs in place. They can provide feedback along the way that is invaluable.
The site in question contained about fifty words of text on the home page all embedded within an image. While most people would be OK with converting that to standard text, in this case the text “layout” was perfect. Perfect font, perfect line spacing, perfect character spacing, etc. It would have been impossible to duplicate it perfectly outside of an image. Unfortunately, that was a deal breaker for them.
And for us.
Making sure your text is indexable by the search engines is paramount. Search engines cannot read text embedded in images. Sure, you can load your alt attribute with a paragraph of text, but that just won’t give you the same effect. If the search engines cannot “read” your page, they have no way of knowing what’s on the page. This makes it (near) impossible to rank for any given keyword phrases. In most cases the Title tag, meta description, and alt tags won’t be enough to compete for first page placement.
A great looking design is paramount for usability issues, but don’t be so married to a “perfect” design that you have to throw out search engine marketing as a viable option. Work with both your designer and SEO to create a search engine friendly website that is appealing to both search engines and visitors.
Other articles and posts related to optimizing content:
Previous posts from this series:
Search Engine Friendly is NOT Search Engine Optimized
An Argument for Website Validation
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: The Domain Name
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Tile and Meta Tags
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Code Bloat
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Headings
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Navigation & Links