SEO 101 for designers

Search engine ranking affects the amount of traffic coming to a website in a big way. Rarely do users go past the second page of search engines when searching for something. Therefore, it is important to have your website on the first two pages for you to get any substantial traffic.

There are a number of things that may be making your website to rank poorly. These can include both on-page and off-page search engine optimization factors. On-page factors refer to things or actions done on the website to improve its rankings while off-page factors are those that are done outside the website.

Below are on-page and off-page factors that could be making your website not to rank well in search engines:

On-page Search Engine Optimization Factors

Does your website have meta tags?

Meta tags are short descriptive words that search engine robots read to define what a website is about. The tags are place within the head tag and should contain the keywords that the business is targeting. Ideally, each page should contain its own set of meta tags, which should be revolving around the niche of the website.

What about title tags?

Does your website have a title tag? The title description is what is usually seen at the menu bar when a person opens up a website. Most websites simply have a “welcome to our website” or “home” text in the title bar. Such websites miss on leveraging on their target keywords. Put a short description about your website or service at the title tag and make sure you include your keywords.

Are your images optimized?

Search engines robots cannot read images. Thus, it is futile to write your keyword as an image. However, you can optimize the image by using alt tags. These tags should describe what the image is about and should also contain the keywords that you are targeting.

Off-page Optimization Factors

Off-page optimization techniques refer to link building. This is the single most-powerful way of making a website rank well in search engines.

Link building can be done by submitting articles with a link back to your website to article directories, submitting blog comments with your an anchor text linking back to your website, social bookmarking, creating profile links, exchanging links with other webmasters, submitting the website URL to web directories, building link wheels among others.

However, it is important to remember that link building should be more about quality than quantity. Websites are given a page rank (PR) of 0 to 9 by search engines, with 0 being the least value and 9 being the highest. A link originating for a higher ranking page is more valuable than one from a low ranking one. For example, a link from a PR 9 site may be valuable than hundreds of links from a PR0 page.

Check that the links you are building are originating from high PR websites.

Duplicate Content

Is your content unique or has it been scrapped off from another website? Duplicate content is usually penalized by search engine and websites with duplicate or copied content usually rank poorly. There are two forms of duplicate content:

• Copying content from another website and not rewriting to make it unique.

• Using the same content in your website on different pages.

In the first instance, the website that originally had the content will be ranked whenever a search query that can be addressed by the content is initiated. In the second instance, only one page of your website will be ranked for the content while the rest will be ignored.

Flash and Video Websites

While Flash websites are very appealing to the human eye, they do not rank well because search engine robots cannot read Flash objects. If you would like to use flash in your website, keep it to a minimum. Also, avoid using too many videos and images as they will not rank as well as text. Ideally, 90 percent of your website should consist of unique text optimized for specific keywords.

Black Hat Techniques

If you use unethical, also known as “blackhat“, methods to achieve higher rankings, you may have to pay with poor rankings. Blackhat techniques include keyword stuffing, using iframes, link cloaking, getting links from link farms among others. In fact, your website may be penalized by Google and banned from appearing in search engine results.

Another technique that is usually penalized is automatic link building. If you have just started a new website and suddenly get 1000 links in one day, your website may be temporary ranked poorly. Webmasters refer to this temporary drop in ranking as “sandbox”. It can take as many as 12 months to get the sandbox lifted.

If you are building links automatically, build them gradually and in small numbers so that they appear to be natural.

Does web hosting affect rankings?

Web hosting may have an impact on the performance of your website in terms of accessibility and load speed but it does not affect search engine rankings. Websites on both shared hosting and dedicated server hosting have a level platform when it comes to search engine rankings. However, it is still important to get a good web hosting solutions company to host your website.

Add to the discussion:

The above are some of the things that may be making your website to rank poorly. Anyone who has other points or experiences with poor rankings is welcomed to share. If you have any more questions or problems with SEO, leave a comment, and let’s have a chat!

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  1. says

    G’day Ellee,

    I’m really interested in this topic as I’ve heard conflicting opinions about SEO.

    A blogger I follow called Tentblogger claims that Meta tagging is all but useless – he has 1000′s of visits per day.

    Yet there also seems to be an industry around it that perpetuates the ‘need’ for SEO services.

    Is there an kind of practical demonstration that I can get to see similar sites with and without SEO optimisation?

  2. says

    Can somebody explain step by step how to add sitemap to Blogger blog. All tutorials I have read till now have poor descriptions like: upload site map and add to blogger template from edit html and then start with description with end to point to site map. Which host to use, how to link to that file (site map).

  3. eirene says

    wow, this is a good guide for beginners, thanks for sharing!

    my friends are planning to have a blog, however we are not that very knowledgeable when it comes to these stuffs,we started reading articles and so far this article is a big help! :) do you know other resources or perhaps give me any info that I can review and consider before starting our blog? thanks!

    • says

      nice to hear you’re going to start your own blog! :D
      for you to have idea on how and where to start, it is important to review certain resources. read articles, visit diff sites/blogs that provide topics of your niche, visit forums. in that way you can gain new idea and friends. ;)

  4. says

    @Bojan – Go to and type in sitemap generator. Click on one of the top results and then the site will generate a sitemap for you. After it’s generated; upload it to your site and submit it to Google and etc. If you switch to WordPress there are several great plugins for it. For Blogger, a quick search told me that you can submit either your atom.xml file or as the sitemap for your blog. Not sure on the validity of that – I found it on a forum. Hope it helps.

  5. says

    Hi Ellee, I find the good definitons with the details of SEO. Thanks for sharing. I like to share some On Page SEO ttechniques. On Page SEO- check canonical issue, Add sitemap.xml and sitemap.html,Url optimizatin, Content optimization, Include important HTML tags and keyword density.

    • says

      yeah basically a beginner/designer should understand what SEO is, SEO can either make or break you that’s why it is important to, at least, have a primer or idea about it.

      And oh, thanks for the tips you shared also, I agree with these ;)

  6. says

    Nice article! One of the most important things is to implement SEO right from the start. This safes really a lot of time. You can write proper alt texts, meta tags etc. right from the beginning and don’t have to edit this later on.

    • says

      By being on the first page position in multiple search engines, will greatly help facilitate the prospective buyers both within and outside the country to find the products or services you have through their search activity in some the largest search engine such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

  7. says

    I dont know why people discuss on-page optimization first and then off-page optimization. On-page optimization thou good to have is not essential. Proper off-page optimization delivers results many hundred times than what on-page can achieve.

  8. says

    Exactly search engines optimization effect upon the traffic a lot and it direct more people towards your website but it is your responsibility to give some interesting and exciting information or services to people so that they keep browsing your website. In this regards, on-page optimization plays vital role to make your web pages, posts, images etc users and search engines’ friendly. I think its time to say good bye to black hat techniques and follow organic ways for getting hire rank and save yourself from Google’s penalty.

  9. says

    Its so import to understand the basics of SEO as a designer most clients wont be to happy if there site tanks buy looks amazing.

  10. says

    Google has developed automatic algorithms that rank your site. They send out what are called “spiders” to “crawl” your site and check it for over 100 indicators that determine whether your site is valuable or useless. These indicators include things like backlinks, domain age, traffic, fresh content, etc.

    SEO is the art of making sure those spiders are happy with that they find. It is an extremely complex field that is constantly changing but in all that chaos there are a few constants that have remained true since the beginning.


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