Cast your mind back a few years, can you remember when pretty much every website design had a flash intro with a loading message. You’d have a little text link saying “skip”? Thankfully the web designers trend to flaunt technical prowess has now largely subsided as the big players (and the enlightened) realised that the search engines and in particular Google wasn’t as impressed with the bling as the website designers themselves were.
Search engines employ spiders to crawl the web looking at websites, reading content, exploring links, reading alt tags and so on. These bots and spiders are now quite advanced but they still haven’t learned to say “wow” and nor do they discuss technically brilliant websites in the pub on a Friday lunchtime. The use of flash intros, revolving graphics and other stupid website glitter is today only seen on amateur websites or websites designed by people who have huge egos, drive ten year old BMW M3s and own a copy of The Matrix movie on blu-ray.
The competition to appear in the top search results has become so fierce that the emphasis has switched from impressing visitors with flashy website design to actually attracting visitors to the website and ranking high with search engines. This has meant that the M3 driving brigade have had to stop playing with silly graphics and instead do a spot of speed reading on what food the Google spider likes to eat. Spiders like text, plain and simple. They don’t like photos, or java or scripts of any kind really. They like logos that they can read as they can’t read text on a jpg image. They like text link menus in the website design and not flashy rollovers. A H1 heading to a search spider is like a Chateaubriand served by Gordon Ramsey.
And so take a look around the internet. You’ll see it has become less flash , no pun intended, less bells and whistles, more of a zen approach towards website design and in turn a better place. You need to bear this in mind when designing a new website. It may be that your old website has been around for ten years or more and that you are looking for a complete rebuild. Try to remember when in the design stage that good SEO means lots of spider food. You are as much designing your new website for the search engines as you are for the end user.