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Today I would like to look at SEO in the eyes of a web designer. Before becoming a full-time SEO specialist I studied web design and worked on designing professional websites. Since those days, and after many years of experience with search engine optimization, I find myself looking at websites from an SEO point of view. So then my question today is, “is it possible to have the best of both worlds?” Can a website that has an amazing professional design also be SEO friendly? Or can a website that is very SEO friendly also have the “perfect” professional design? My answer is yes.

To explain how this is possible, I am going to use a specific website for an example. Donald Trump is known to take pride in having the best of what is offered when it comes to golf courses, resorts, hotels, and luxury high-rise buildings. He complements these establishments with clean and professional looking websites. But are these websites both professional in design and SEO friendly? Let’s take a closer look at this question with a specific example: Trump Tower Philadelphia.

My initial impression of this website was similar to my impression of each of Mr. Trump’s sites. It has a clean professional look that gives a great user experience. I was able to find a lot of good information about the tower and the accommodations offered there.

But is Mr. Trump’s website SEO friendly? I only found the website because I knew exactly what I was looking for, “Trump Towers Philadelphia.” If I didn’t know about Mr. Trump building a tower in Philadelphia, I might search for something more general like “Philadelphia Luxury Condos” or “Philadelphia Resort.”

Although the website does rank number one for “Trump Tower Philadelphia,” when I searched for the other key terms I did not find similar ranking results. In fact, the website was not even listed in the first page of results. By only searching on those related terms, I would not know about the prestige and lavishness that the Trump Towers has to offer. So, it appears that the website is not SEO friendly.

To maintain this site’s professional look while making it SEO friendly, here are a few things that I would change.

  • Flash: Flash is not very SEO friendly. I would not have the entire site in flash and I would not make the index page of the site be a flash introduction movie to the website. Flash movies can still be used as elements on the pages of the site.
  • Content on index page: I would make sure there is plenty of good content on the index page and all other pages outside of the flash movie.
  • Static text links: I would make sure that the main navigation of the site was coded as static text links to make it possible for each page to be able to be crawled by search engine spiders.

Combining these changes with the optimization of various other elements on the site pages will have a great effect on search engine rankings. These changes will take a site that has a professional design and make it SEO friendly as well, thus giving the website the best of both worlds.