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Don't let web designers design your web site!

No - the headline isn't a typo.

I feel despondent and find it hard not to roll my eyes when a client says. "first let my existing web design company do the site and then you can optimise it".

Invariably web designers don't understand internet marketing and inadvertently put in place massive roadblocks to search engines that can be costly and time consuming to remove.

The top offending sites are Flash. Now I don't mean "flash" as in extravagant but rather that they were developed with a programme called Flash. You will know if you have seen a site created in Flash because the web designers have usually gone to town on it. For several seconds (seems like longer) you are confronted with twirling objects and lines shoot across the screen usually accompanied by sound effects from a Darth Vader convention. Flash sites have the "wow factor" but they have one massive drawback.

Read on to find out what the drawback is. You'll need to be online to get the most from this but it's worth the effort...

Search engines use "robots" or "spiders" whose job it is to:

  • read websites
  • store the copy they read (we clever types call this "indexing")
  • bring up the pages they read in search engine results

The text on the pages of sites created entirely in Flash cannot be read by search engines. It is going to be difficult to bring up a page in search engine results if it can't be read.

If you don't believe me move your cursor over the words in this article while holding down the left hand mouse button. You can select individual bits or chunks of select which turn blue.

Now go to this site: http://www.autoscreens.co.uk

Try selecting some text with the mouse - you can't do it - it's impossible.

Now go to www.google.co.uk and type in the web address:

http://www.autoscreens.co.uk in the search box like the example below.

It might seem strange to type a web address into the box above. However Google tells us some great information when we do this. Click on the "Google Search" button to see what they have to say about this site.

Google returns the information shown above. When Google reads the pages of a website it takes snapshots. We call this a "cache" of the page. Let's see the cache of Autoscreen's page by clicking on the blue word "Cached" in the box above.

The cache looks like the box above. The text in the white box at the top is of particular interest. Click on the words "cached text" to see what Google can read on the page.

You can see that there is absolutely nothing in the grey or green box above. Google has not been able to read one word on this site because of the programme it has been written in.

This business made the fatal error of letting a web designer design their web site.

The lesson to be learnt is to use the services of a search engine optimisation consultant at the start of a web design project.

This article was written by David Clarke - a partner of DBS. David is an internet marketing consultant and is working with Employers4Lawyers in optimising their website. DBS's client base includes numerous small to medium sized law firms.

Website: www.dbsinternetmarketing.co.uk Email: david@dbsinternetmarketing.co.uk

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