In our experience, we have found that designers’ preferences are often initially at
odds with optimization for search engines. A conflict between SEO and graphic design-
ers exists because SEO is, at least in part, optimizing the website for a nonhuman visi-
tor (a search engine robot), while designers are entirely focused on the human user
As the ambassador of SEO, your job is to find common ground. Sit down with
the leadership—the department head, the style guide developer, the senior designer, or
whoever happens to have the website graphic files on their computer—and figure out
how you can make SEO work for everybody. A website that nobody can find is worth-
less, but you certainly don’t want a site that people immediately leave because the
design doesn’t speak to them. So, you must recognize and acknowledge this fact:
Make a commitment to the graphics department that you will never sacrifice the
human user experience for SEO.
Educate and Empower
It’s important to educate your designers about the reasoning behind your SEO proposals.
Give them a quick course on the graphics-related factors that you learned about
in Chapter 3 and 4. Again, it’s best not to overwhelm with too many details, so you
should limit your explanations to elements that you are looking to change. Is your
won’t follow those links. Stuck on big graphic headlines? In Part III, we’ll tell you how
to get a peek at your website the way that search engine spiders see—or, more appro-
priate, don’t see—these elements. Show this to your designers for a shocker!
Naturally, there may be too many changes to make in one fell swoop. Go for the
big-ticket items first—for example, getting rid of frames, wrapping Flash elements in
robot-friendly HTML pages, replacing major graphic headlines with HTML text, and
creating a lower-priority list for less significant SEO changes. In other words, do this:
Pearl of Wisdom:
Start with big changes for quicker tangible results.
Pearl of Wisdom:
The human audience will always be the most important.
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