November 28, 2011, 11:43 AM

Merchants can benefit by intertwining SEO and design

Birthday Direct’s vice president offers search optimization tips at the IRWD conference.

Lead Photo

Tim Elam

Search engine optimization requires intricate planning as it can affect the design of an e-commerce site. And when designing site pages, e-retailers must carefully scrutinize the end result from not one but two perspectives, says Tim Elam, vice president and chief technology officer of Birthday Direct Inc. “Too often online retailers focus on how their web site is seen through the eyes of their customers but neglect to realize how it is seen by the search engines,” he says.

Elam will speak from 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at the 2012 Internet Retailer Web Design and Usability Conference in Orlando, FL, in a session entitled “SEO mistakes that are costing you serious money.”

Crafting a web page based on search engine optimization techniques can enhance pages by including elements that might otherwise be left out, such as a greater number of helpful intra-site links leading customers to a bounty of information. Those links simultaneously can boost a page’s standing in natural search rankings.

“It’s often said you shouldn’t worry about SEO because if you design your web site for your customers then the SEO will take care of itself. That’s not always true,” Elam says. “The key take-away from my presentation will be that you must design your web site for SEO while maintaining the focus on the customer experience. This will be achieved through identifying the major sections of a web page to optimize for search engines, which will ultimately improve the customer’s shopping experience.”

The editors of Internet Retailer asked Elam to speak because of his long history in web development and search engine optimization. Enrolled at the University of North Alabama while also on active duty with the U.S. Army, Elam was responsible for the development and search engine optimization of the university’s Military Science Department web site, which received more traffic than the rest of the university’s sites combined, he says. Upon leaving active duty in 2001, he worked with a number of local retailers to develop their initial web sites. He joined Birthday Direct in 2005 and continues to consult with local businesses on web development and search engine optimization.

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