When the time comes to design your new website or rework your old one, you should keep a few guiding principles in mind. One of the most important ones is SEO since it can directly influence how many people will visit your site.
However, many people aren't sure how they should approach web design or how SEO fits into the picture. Luckily, SEO and web design go hand in hand, since they have the same goal – getting more people to your website and selling more products. You can consider SEO to be an approach, or better yet – a mindset you should have while designing your site. In this article, we will dive into how SEO and web design should work together.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it represents a set of design techniques and principles that you can apply to your website. Their end goal is to get your site a high rank when users look up specific keywords you are focusing on. Basically, you are making your site more appealing to search engines, and by doing so, you'll be getting more visitors. On the other hand, if you cannot reach a high rank for your chosen keywords, your website might just as well not exist. Honestly, when was the last time you looked past Google's first page of results?
Key concepts where SEO and web design should work together
Make mobile-first design choices
Nowadays, designing for mobile devices needs to be the number one priority. The number of desktop searches is going down every year, and most users will access your site via their smartphones. Google is aware of this trend and has been "punishing" websites that aren't optimized for mobile by giving them a lower rank when delivering search results. Don't fall for rookie mistakes, and ensure that all of the elements on your pages load correctly on mobile and that your website is responsive.
Navigation should be simple and intuitive, so try to avoid complex forms which can alienate users who have disabilities or trouble with navigation that requires multiple button presses and keyboard inputs. A key feature of the mobile-friendly design is making everything accessible with one-finger button prompts.
Create a thrilling landing page
The landing page is probably the most important page on your entire website. This is where all of your PPC ads, as well as links shared on social networks, will lead users who click on them. That's why your goal should be to design high-conversion landing pages that are money makers. If the first page your website visitors see doesn't instantly hook them, you can expect a high bounce rate and lost profit. Instead, your landing page needs to have a clear call to action that will encourage visitors to start their journey with your company.
Create and host quality content
An often overlooked fact of web design is that search engines prefer websites that offer valuable content to users. Your site needs to have properly structured articles (separated with headings and subheadings), images with alt tags, and a meta description. Most importantly, they need to be well written and contain information that will be of interest to users. The same can be said for any other content on your website – it should appeal to users. For example, images and videos need to be optimized and relate to the matter at hand. If your website offers video tutorials and guides, you will quickly rise to prominence as an expert in your field, and your following will grow. A key area where SEO and web design should work together is keywords and hashtags. Structure your content so that users can find it, both on your website as well as through a search engine.
Fast load speeds matter
As internet speeds have gotten faster over time, users have gotten used to pages loading quickly. If your website takes forever to load, you can expect customers to get frustrated pretty quickly and leave. Mobile users are even less prone to waiting for pages to load, and since they represent the majority of web searches, the math seems obvious. A slow and unresponsive website will cost you potential clients even before they have had a chance to hear your sales pitch. Additionally, having to wait a couple of seconds after every button press will get you flagged by search engines. Google will take longer crawling your pages, and that will result in negative SEO.
Work On Your Sitemaps and Links
Here's a quick test for you: take a piece of paper and draw out your website. If you are having trouble visualizing how your pages connect to each other, that probably means your site structure could use improvement. A tangled mess won't make sense to Google either, so make sure you don't get penalized with negative search engine karma. Instead, your SEO and web design should work together to create an intuitive and naturally flowing website. After all, your website is the foundation of your online presence and how most users will interact with your company.
Avoid dead ends and missing content, which result in 404 errors. Go through the pages of your website and fix any broken links. Additionally, you should check if all your images are loading correctly. Navigational dead ends will not only confuse users but will also cause your website to load a lot slower – while it tries to retrieve data that isn't there from the server.
Always use logical names for navigation buttons and links so they don't confuse your visitors. All of your anchors and links need to be intuitive and lead users to where they expect to be taken. Your external links should point to authoritative sites, which will only work to further boost your SEO.
Your key takeaway from this article should be that what's good for the user will also boost your SEO. When trying to figure out how SEO and web design should work together, you can start by putting your users first and then design everything with them in mind. This approach will bring you plenty of visitors and result in a better bottom line.
Meta description: Website owners need to have both users and search engines in mind. Here’s how SEO and web design should work together to create the perfect website!