If you’re finally taking the plunge and having a website designed for your business, you may very well feel overwhelmed with choices. It’s not easy to gain traction online these days. On the one hand, you’ll enjoy access to literally millions of possible readers, viewers and customers, without much limitation imposed by your finances. But on the other side, you’re up against every other company in your market, both the tiny mom and pop shops and the massive international corporations. Each one of them has a website, meaning your customers will have instantaneous comparisons at their fingertips. You certainly want a smooth interface, an attractive layout and a nice way to feature your products or services. But without thinking about search engine optimization, also known as SEO, you’ll have little to no chance of really making a splash. Unless you expect all of those potential customers to already know your URL, you’ve got to make discovery as easy as possible. So here are five tips for designing a website with SEO in mind.

First of all, start things off by considering SEO with your site’s navigation. Many people end up designing sites that run using Flash, because of their attractiveness. But Flash in your navigation can make SEO quite tricky. Search engines just don’t know how to pull the data they need from embedded flash objects. While you can use flash effectively on your site, make sure that you use JavaScript or CSS for your navigation bar instead. You’ll still be able to do something attractive, but you won’t lose anything as far as your search rankings are concerned.

Quality content is what keeps casual searchers coming back to your site for more. But if you don’t pepper it with searchable terms, the search engines will ignore even the best of websites. There’s a simple structure to use in your posts, which includes a heading for each one, embedded keywords in each paragraph and clickable links that will guarantee search engine spiders will snag your data.

The URL you purchase is the address of your website, but it’s also a great way to start your approach into the world of search engine optimization. The best URL for this purpose will describe your site’s content in some way, and ideally include keywords that are also found embedded in the site. The last thing you want is for the additional pages within your site to have randomly generated number strings as their URLs. Make sure the content management system you’re employing gives you the option to customize the URL for each page. That way you can insure the pages you want to show up in searches actually do.

At the same time, there will be pages on your website that you don’t really want the search engines to pick up. They could be test pages, or back end pages for partners and your internal programmers. Regardless of the reason, make sure you are effectively blocking these pages from search engine indexing. Put these pages under password, or use a robots.txt file that specifically blocks out search engines.

Finally, make sure you find opportunities to embed quality, unique metadata. Do a quick search through Google Adwords, and you’ll see the sort of content you need to include. But in general, make sure the description of each page is different from its title, and that the keywords are different from both of those. If you’re building off of a template, all of the metadata will be the same. Take the time to make each page unique, and your website is far more likely to be picked up by search engines.