Your website is the foundation of your online presence. Users get an impression of your brand based on their experience on the site.
If the first impression is poor, it could decide whether users will keep coming back to your website or leave it for good.
However, many business owners make a frequent mistake when creating websites. They hire web developers, dealing only with the site's aesthetics, which, although important - is not the most critical element of website design.
Consulting and collaborating with developers and marketers and why not, some of the top data analytics companies could easily help you avoid omissions and bolster your search engine optimization (SEO) from the get-go.
How does website design affect SEO, and what web design practices should you pay special attention to? Whether you are just starting to make a site or have an existing site that needs improvement, this article will provide helpful insights.
Let's start from the beginning:
(Image Source: Unsplash)
SEO-friendly web design refers to designing and developing a website that achieves its SEO goals.
An SEO-tailored website leverages the best optimization practices, such as providing a customized mobile device experience, fast loading, and descriptive URLs.
Boasting an SEO-friendly website design will make it easier for search engines to understand and rank your website in their search results, increasing traffic and conversions.
Web design promotes your company 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The site's design leaves the first impression on most people who meet your brand.
Focusing on creating a site that leaves an excellent and long-lasting first impression is a must.
Since design has everything to do with visual aspects, and SEO optimization affects how users will find your site, it may seem that SEO and web design are separate fields of digital marketing. That's true.
Web designers and SEO specialists perform different tasks, and they should collaborate on this job to provide the best results.
However, this does not mean that SEO and web design do not work together.
Therefore, if you consider designing or redesigning a website, you must know why website design and SEO are essential - and how they can work together.
Web design itself is not one of the ranking factors according to Google's own rules, but it does affect the preference of the most powerful search engine for your site.
Yes, all on-page and off-page optimization elements are essential for user experience. And web design is directly responsible for keeping them in harmony.
SEO-friendly web design affects the following:
It provides an improved user experience. Precise and predictive design is easy to navigate and makes users dwell for a lot longer on your pages.
It makes it easier for crawlers to index your website. Crawlers travel the Internet searching for new information that needs to be indexed to make the site visible in search results. If the design of your site is counterintuitive and complicated for users to navigate, it will be the same for the search engine crawlers. It will make it hard for them to move from page to page, hindering their indexing efforts, thus negatively affecting your rankings.
On the other hand, SEO-friendly design, fast page loading, visibility, easy navigation, predictability, and related pages will make it easier for crawlers and users to navigate, thus improving your rankings.
You can avoid these mistakes by blending web design and SEO from the start.
Your developers should format all of your content when designing the site so that web crawlers find it with ease.
There are a few things you can do to make the web design and SEO synergy work:
An increasing number of internet users are looking up sites on smartphones and other mobile devices (in 2021, the percentage of all conducted mobile searches was 63%!), and your site must be accessible to all internet users.
Responsive web design will make your site work seamlessly on all devices and browsers. It will also provide a better user experience and boost your chances for a higher ranking, now that mobile accessibility is one of Google's main ranking factors.
A responsive website also eliminates the potential for duplicate content, which can happen if you have a separate mobile site.
The loading speed of your site is another essential factor in ranking on Google, and the design of the site has a significant impact on the loading speed.
The ideal loading speed should be less than one second, but 2 seconds is tolerable. If your site takes 3 seconds or more to load, it will be considered slow, and users will leave it.
Just two seconds of prolonged loading will cause 87% of users to opt-out of viewing your site.
Check the loading speed with one of the many online tools available for this purpose, and then review the site to find out what slows it down.
Compress files and images, optimize code by removing unnecessary lines, reduce the number of redirects on pages, regularly clear cache and choose your server carefully because a lot depends on its speed (optimal server response speed would be below 200ms).
Navigation is one of the most critical components of a satisfying user experience, and it should have the following characteristics:
- It should be simple and easy, even for inexperienced users.
- It should be consistent and intuitive.
- All categories within should be properly named.
- It should offer the possibility of returning to previously viewed pages.
- It should provide a proportionate level of activity and time spent.
- It should suit the purpose of the site.
- It should support the goals and behavior of the user.
The easier it is for visitors to find what they need, the more likely it is for them to convert.
Easy-to-use navigation also decreases the chances of your visitors getting confused and leaving your website, reduces the abandonment rate, and improves your rankings.
Although designers may primarily focus on non-textual elements of your site, it is important to choose fonts and sizes that are easy to read for your visitors.
We would suggest that you set aside your personal preferences in this field. Choose clear and concise fonts, make sure they're not too small, and avoid using pale colors.
For example, beige letters on a white background can be challenging to read, while white letters on a black background are tiring to follow, and readers will quickly give up on reading.
Also, your designer should know to leave enough room for copy unless the base copy is extracted from a current webpage (or pre-written) and included in your design specifications.
You will need a lot of informative, optimized content to rank well, and a design that looks good with just a few sentences of text will frustrate your SEO specialist.
(Image Source: Unsplash)
As we mentioned in the introduction, site aesthetics is not a crucial factor for SEO but for the users.
Have you heard about the 15-second rule? According to HubSpot, that is the average time users spend on your website. If they don't like it within those 15 seconds, 55% of them will probably never come back.
Poor design is one of the top reasons for the high bounce rate.
For your quality content to reach the eyes of end-users, make sure it has an "attractive packaging."
So, think about the site's structure and choose the right colors (colors encourage different emotions towards your brand), but do not hesitate to add a lot of infographics and visuals to the site, which are often easier to understand than the textual content itself.
This way, users will stay longer on the site, which will send a positive signal to search engines regarding your site's authority in your business niche.
There are additional aspects that you should consider in terms of SEO:
Both internal and external linking have great importance. An appropriate linking strategy will connect pages of your site, while backlinks will boost your authority and trustworthiness. Internal and external links provide better insight into your site and a better user experience.
Of course, you should use a backlink checker for a backlink audit to get a high-level view of your backlink profile and make the necessary adjustments.
Images and other forms of media content, directly and indirectly, improve SEO. By embedding YouTube videos on your site, you can create a better user experience and improve your online visibility.
Media content makes using the site much more enjoyable and prolongs the user's retention time.
Here are a few tips for images placement:
- Please make sure the images are the right size, so they don't slow down the site
- All images must have alternative text (alt-text) (i.e., why the image relates to the website)
- Properly optimize videos with keywords, descriptions, and links to your site
Ensure that your website puts your company in a good light; this improves your SEO.
When creating a website, factor in your target audience and make sure it is well organized and built to suit their needs.
Hire a good and proven web design company to develop your website. Branding is essential, and to do it well from the start, click here.