SEO vs. DesignThere’s a constant debate between designers and search engine optimizers… and maybe you can guess what it is! It’s the war between including fancy designs with images versus focusing on providing relevant text.

Web designers usually want to avoid lots of text that distracts from their aesthetic page and from their design standing out to visitors. They can get carried away with very fancy graphics and all sorts of things.

On the other side of the coin, SEOers know that just appearance isn’t the only characteristic of a good site, and they, therefore, try to achieve plenty of content that will work the magic of converting visitors into paying customers.

To be clear, design really focuses on the appearance of the pages. What sort of graphics you have on your pages, how they are laid out, and of course, the color schemes and such. That’s your design.

SEOers are looking to the optimization of your site. They focus on the quality of the text as well as the quantity. The copy also has to attract search engines. If search engines don’t find your page, you won’t have any visitors to your pages at all (unless you pay for traffic)… therefore, no one to admire the design!

You will have to get the important concept here. It’s vital that visitors receive your sales message. When you have an Internet business, you’ll have to ask yourself, “What will work the best so I get visitors, and once they arrive on my site, what will work best to have those visitors actually buy my product or service?”

Yes, like Iron Man, you can become powerful and in a causative position over the results your website gets. You have to concentrate on optimization. There isn’t such a thing as a complete balance in design and optimization. Not in this competitive world.

Simplicity in design is really the best way to go… in fact “overdoing” this simplicity. You can keep to black for your fonts and lines and use white for background. That simple. At the end of the day, it’s the content that will keep your site interesting to visitors.

When you do use images, use alt tags, title attributes, and targeted file names to optimize them for the Search Engines. But you must still realize that the old saying holds true, “Content is King!” You have to ensure that the copy on your pages contains keywords in the correct density… relevant copy too, I might add. ;-) This is where you should focus most of your attention.

If your Internet business is invisible to search engines, it’s like having a big store on a main street in town but leaving the doors locked and the windows covered. If an excellent message is lacking, people may find your site, but they will come and then go. It’s too easy for visitors to go shop somewhere else. They click the back button and they’re gone!

Online marketing is vital, and SEO is a large part of that. Without relevant, exciting and informative content, you will just sit in the dark, unvisited and unloved. Your shop will remain closed, virtually and every other way.

Paying thousands to have your site designed doesn’t automatically guarantee that you’ll be the newest and best on the Web, getting thousands of visitors weekly… or daily.

The two subjects of design and SEO don’t have to be in conflict. The visual appearance can be pleasing with simple design. It will load quickly and be easier to navigate without all the additional photos, logos, and other distracting graphics. Besides, rather than having your visitors stare at the design, make them read the actual content.

Bottom line, the content is what will keep visitors coming back, and ultimately doing business with you!

—Marcus Hochstadt

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23 Responses to SEO vs. Design

  1. Mr MultiVar says:

    I agree that keeping things simple is best. Like you have done, with professional looking graphic touches such as the bullet points and the odd image here and there.

    For some sites that don’t need return visitors such as landing page sites, I think you can relax on the visual quality though.

  2. Mark says:

    My commercial site is a landing page and I think has an attractive design. It is a dificult task to promote it though. I have been building backlinks steadily over the last few months though and keep finding new ways to promote it.

  3. Hi, great post!

    I think there has to be a happy medium, with a clean design and a lot of quality content a site can go a long way. As a content writer, I am bound to prefer sites with great content, but I like to site to look well designed also.

  4. Louis Liem says:

    unfortunately, content isnt the only one anymore. other factors like marketing and design contributes as important as content.
    a good design makes it easy to readers to take desired action by the author such as subscribing, reading more content, signing up, etc

  5. eBay says:

    Sometimes i do click “close” if the site take longer time to upload. And we know that sometimes design may give longer uploading time. But both design and SEO are important. Then i realized that with some modification, good design will not give longer uploading time. We may use .png instead of .jpg for graphic file for example…

  6. shawal says:

    I think that seo and design walk on the same track….

    Both are the same important….. Seo for search engine and design for visitor coming back….(repeat)

  7. I knew that there exist people who still overemphasize the importance of design… ;-)

  8. I definitely think that you do have to strike a balance between good design and content for SEO. Afterall, the way that your page is laid out, and the usability of the site is important, and it must look professional, and trustworthy, especially if it is for your business to make money. I think, though that the point that you are trying to make is that over designing your site, and focusing on the imagery and cool effects is not going to help you with SEO. This point, I agree with, as your content IS the most important thing, and should be presented in a way that is usable, friendly, and not clouded with extraneous code and graphics. When in doubt, go clean and simple. Great post!

  9. […] Hochstadt presents SEO vs. Design posted at Marcus […]

  10. Thatsblog says:

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    Thank you for article submission to the 4th Edition of the “Adsense Tips and Tricks” Blog Carnival.
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  15. Andy says:

    Both have their own importance. Ignoring one can harm your site with lower traffic, which doesn’t solve our purpose of having a Business site.

  16. SEO Houston says:

    Your web design should certainly take SEO and SEM into consideration. The design needs to be search engine and user friendly, and have good calls to action. Those calls to action convert visitors to customers. SEO and web design go hand in hand to make a website that works.

  17. Charles says:

    I will follow this tips and hope my adsense earnings will improve in the future. I will report back and tell you what happend to them.

  18. BLoG kiTa says:

    hm.. how about my theme? maybe you can check my theme.. need some suggestions :) Thanks!

  19. Elise says:

    I’ve taken web design classes at a local college here in Ottawa Ontario and am amazed at the disconnect that still exists when it comes to how designers think (teachers in this school, for example) about websites and their purpose in life.

    From my experience, designers are still being told to keep the focus on the visually appealing. Most do not take SEO into consideration…to the point where they may be completely unfamiliar with it. Yes, the fact that this new masterpiece needs to actually been seen by more than themselves and the poor client who hired them!

    In my opinion – keep your design simple and focus on good internal navigation. Deliver outstanding content. Learn the fundamentals of SEO and keep on taking action.

  20. Eric says:

    I’d have to agree. Focus on designing great content for your visitors. Everything else is secondary!

  21. Jessica says:

    “…the content is what will keep visitors coming back, and ultimately doing business with you!” – SO TRUE! As the cliché goes, Simplicity is beauty. The design can be “simply inviting”. And if the content is excellent, then all the more reason for the visitors to stay.

  22. I love the post, Markus. Tanks a lot. That’s basically how it works in real life. You need to find a compromise if a compromise is due. In order to achieve that easily, you need to ensure that your SEO guys know the basics of web design and your web designers are aware of the basics of SEO, because it’ll help them to cooperate and communicate in a seamless way. :)

  23. Web design has its importance
    but in this competitive world it’s not the only thing to focus on to
    get the survival. That’s true that now people are moving more towards
    marketing online and in this term SEO comes where it plays it role. Web
    design and SEO both together will be a good thing to have your

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