Guest Interview: SEO Web Design Company

New Shoe MediaThis week’s guest interview features Claye Stokes, owner of New Shoe Media (a business affiliate with Wordszilla). The following interview was conducted via email and covers topics related to SEO (search engine optimization), website design, and website copy.

The Goods

Luis Bonilla: What is the difference between a traditional website design company and New Shoe Media, an SEO web design company?

Claye Stokes: In my experience, many web designers have a tendency to cut corners when it comes to website development to save time and cut costs. Anyone who visits the website, including their client, doesn’t see the code anyways, so why spend time making the website standards-compliant? In the case of your nephew’s friend who can set up a quick website for free, he probably isn’t familiar with industry standards or search engine guidelines.

The unfortunate side effect is a website with sloppy HTML that is difficult for search engines to parse, or a website that uses Flash and JavaScript improperly, blocking search engines from the useful and important content that the website has to offer.

New Shoe Media emphasizes clean, lightweight code—the kind that search engines love. My websites also emphasize usability, with intuitive navigation structures and hierarchies, and design elements. Websites are useless if, 1) they aren’t getting any traffic, and, 2) when the traffic arrives, the website doesn’t offer a user friendly experience. My websites are the answer to both problems: my content-centric, search engine friendly websites will offer organic search engine traffic and are easy to navigate and use.

LB: What would you say are the top two most important aspects when building an SEO-friendly website?

CS: First and foremost: how content is displayed on the website. Website copy should never, ever, be displayed using frames, Flash, JavaScript, or images. Although each has their place, none is meant to display text (i.e. use Flash for animations and calls to action and use JavaScript to enhance usability). Instead, use simple, semantic HTML markup to display content and to make it easy for search engines to index and rank your content.

Usability is a close second. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines specifically state “make pages primarily for users.” Offer content that will benefit and add value for your visitors, don’t just try to sell. The usefulness of your website and content will determine how many links and attention your website will receive, so make content writing and construction one of your top priorities when building a website. You may even want to survey some of your visitors to ask if the content on your website is what they expected and/or needed, and make any necessary adjustments.

LB: Do you feel that anyone could write SEO-friendly copy (text) for a website? Why or why not?

CS: Well…yes and no. Search engines are intended to find the best content on the Web that is related to your search query, period—no matter who the author or what the content. So in that sense, then no. If you are an expert in your field, then whatever you write will probably be perfect.

However, it’s important to use buzzwords and keywords that people would use to search for your content as much as possible (while keeping the verbiage on the site natural and flowing). So, if you are in a competitive industry or if you aren’t completely familiar with the subject you are writing about, then it would be wise to hire a professional SEO content writer to optimize your copy and to research and implement copy based on the keywords that people are using most to find what you offer.

LB: You told me once in conversation that one of your biggest obstacles when constructing a website is waiting for your client to provide written content. What are some reasons you feel this occurs?

CS: I think it’s a combination of a couple things. First of all, I feel that my clients are surprised that they are in charge of providing the content. They need a website and just want somebody to make it, and they expect it to be a package deal: I pay for it, you make it, top to bottom. So I think that from the onset, they are normally unprepared to provide content, and it just takes time for them to formulate and construct the content for the website. I consult them on making good content from the sideline, but they are the experts in their field and will come up with much more useful, relevant content than I ever could.

And the second reason: I work most frequently with small business owners who have companies to run, so delay in receiving the content is just due to the many hats they wear that sometimes spread them thin.

LB : In your professional opinion, are the aesthetics of a website more important than the written content of a website? Equally important? Does it matter?

CS: I touched this lightly in the first question, but I believe they are equally important. Like I said, websites have to have good content that will provide natural traffic, but what good is it if it isn’t navigable or if it looks shoddy, unprofessional, or unexpected? As David Ogilvy put it, “You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it.” Use design to show off your professionalism, brand, and personality. First impressions are important, so try to impress the visitors who are coming to your site for the first time.

And returning to the importance of the written content: make it so useful that your visitors will want to link to it. Make it so remarkable they will share it; make it factual so that they will cite it in their blogs, articles, and reports. Finally, make it relevant so that search engines will deem it worthy of great rankings.

Interview Summary

Thank you Claye for a very elaborate and informative interview. I really enjoyed your answer on making the website for users. I feel that sometimes the optimization process can overshadow the user-friendliness aspect of a website, and that it is important to realize that the website should be built with navigation (and being informative) in mind.

As always, please feel free to leave a response or ask questions.

Ghostwriting Service - Copy Editing Service
Luis D. Bonilla
Wordszilla, LLC

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