Explaining Search Friendly Design To The Marketing Department
Sometimes they just don’t get it. They mean well, and of course they have the best intentions of your company in mind, but they continue to insist on just getting the company’s web strategy all wrong. Does this sound all too familiar?
If your company’s marketing department insists on applying traditional, but often outdated marketing tactics to your website, then this scenario probably does ring a bell. Unfortunately, experts at using the web to its fullest potential all too often are fighting an unnecessary battle with traditional marketing folks who don’t quite see eye to eye with how a website and overall web presence can be used for maximum effectiveness.
Hopefully, you’re one of the lucky ones—working with marketing professionals that really get the web. But if not, here are a few talking points you might consider bringing up the next time the inevitable conversation takes place again...
Flash is great—just not for searchable text! While using Flash as part of a website’s design can look really great and really appeal to the visitors, relying it for 100% of the website’s presentation is a fatal flaw for search engine friendliness. Search engines rely on the text within your site to index and rank your site. The bottom line is that the search engines can’t read or understand your site if all text is presented to the readers as a Flash design.
Web visitors want more than your company’s brochure copy. Yes, web visitors are looking for more than the traditional company brochure—they’re looking for detailed, easy-to-read content. Sales copy can and does often work on the web, but there’s a time and place for it. Lengthy, formal dissertations are not acceptable to most visitors of your site; instead, visitors want the details presented in a friendly context.
It’s about more than looks. Graphic design plays a vital role in both offline and online marketing, but websites must be about more than graphic design alone. Websites have to have real content to attract visitors through the search engines—a pretty site alone that’s informationally empty just won’t cut it.
A good website is easy to read. Remember, visitors to your site want to find the information they came for quickly and easily. Believe it or not, the way the information is presented has a huge impact on whether or not they’ll stick around long enough to find it. The first rule is to keep the default font size large enough for comfortable reading. Next, it’s a really good idea to keep paragraphs short and use bullet points, headers, and subtitles frequently to add whitespace and guide the reader to what they’re seeking. This might not be necessary in traditional print, but it is the way of the web.
In the end, it’s all about keeping in mind that the web is a completely different beast than offline marketing. While some ideas are cross-functional, in practice, all web experts will tell you that there are major differences too. Understanding how visitors use the web and offering a solution based on those facts (rather than just the offline marketing goals) is the best way to build upon a foundation of success.