Saturday, April 28, 2007

Are You Google Visible?

“Beauty and brains, pleasure and usability - they should go hand in hand.” -- Donald Norman, Nielsen Norman Group
When designing a new site from scratch or redesigning your existing site to increase visibility on Google... where do you start?

People always talk about useability. It's a buzzword, I admit that, and like most buzzwords it doesn't really mean anything. BUT today CVoD is going to define it two ways...

1. Ease of use for the reader, and
2. Ease of use for Google

When you design... you must make your content easy to find by your visitors. Don't be seduced by graphics, creative visions or flash programming... make the flow simple, easy and logical.

10 designers can make 10 differ layouts and 5 of them will no doubt be good enough for the reader... (we are not taking conversion landing pages here just general template level web design) but the most important question remains...

Is the design good for Google?

The biggest mistake "so-called" designers make is not making their site navigation crawlable.

How do you do that?

You keep it simple and design the site through a Search Engine’s eyes.

Think of the mind set the Google bot has... it's not giving you points for great colors, or a flash intro... you must think like a computer. Think substance over glitter, shine or sparkle.

Practically speaking... make it pretty and organized and then view it through a text browser. By doing this you'll see your link architecture... and this is what the Google bot sees.

Here is a free browser I use to view my sites in text. Lynxview Text Browser

Pretty cool, eh?

It's like going back in a time machine to the first Internet sites. If you can get through your entire site using only a text browser, then the Goolge bot can too!

AND you'll have a crawlable design that Google will like.

This brings us to the second most important feature... a site map. I've mentioned this many time before so I'll be brief...

Create a site map so your users can navigate through your site easily. DON'T list all links in random chaos. Be organized.

The goal of this page is to help people find your best pages... it helps your readers navigate AND Google loves a well organized site map. Really.... so much so that you should make a site map of your own AND use the Google Site Map tool in addition to that.

In sum, it's all about useability... helping the reader and the all-powerful omnipresent master - Google - easily find what your site has to offer. (or find what to index for that matter.)

What else? Stay tuned...