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Designed to be Found – Part 1

Most designers and developers think that Internet Explorer is the biggest used user-agent online. However, while over 80 percent of your visitors may use Internet Explorer, the fact remains that over 90 percent will first discover a site via search. Have you designed for the all-important user-agent of search?

Think you already have? Perhaps you are an experienced designer with scores of projects under your belt. You figure that with a site that validates fully, and good accessibility, you are covered for search. You have keywords META tags, lots of keywords in the META description, and you feel confident.

However, let me tell you that of all of those factors there, from validation to META tags, the only one that has any effect on search rankings is the accessibility. This practical guide, which I will post in bite-size sections, will help you to catch up on the search technologies of this millennium, and not to base the success of all your hard work on outdated advice.

The Importance of Search Engines - I probably don’t need to spell this out, but it is better to include it even as a refresher than to risk any misunderstanding. The fact is that people use search to find information. Not a small group of people, but pretty much everyone who actually can find stuff.

There have been thousands of studies made across the years highlighting all kinds of statistics. If anything, the statistics actually downplay a lot of things, because while the stats say that 90% of sites are found via search, it doesn’t point out that the other 10 percent includes finding a site via a link on a site that itself was 90 percent likely to have been found via search. It also includes sites recommended by email - from someone who is 90 percent likely to have found the site via search.

While knowing that some percentage of users will start with a destination in mind – like deciding to browse the latest DVDs on play.com, or looking for model railways on eBay – that’s really only useful if you’re already that sort of destination site, and synonymous with something. For everyone else, and for every product not synonymous with a brand site, search is where the market is.

Look out for part 2 next week…



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