Web design and SEO work well together. The two work so well together that it’s like a match made in heaven! Working seamlessly together can drive traffic, boost online visibility, and generate a positive user experience. We cover 11 web design essentials to consider for SEO so you can benefit from seamless web design and SEO.
What is SEO?
Before covering the web design essentials to consider for SEO, let’s briefly go over what SEO is. Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) involves implementing a strategy of different techniques to increase a website’s rankings and, by extension, visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO techniques can include on-page, off-page, and technical SEO techniques. On-page SEO involves optimising your website or pages for potentially higher rankings. Techniques include optimising content or keyword research and usage.
Off-page SEO involves any techniques for potentially increasing rankings away from your site. Examples include link-building and social media marketing. Technical SEO involves optimising a site for search engines or improving the user experience, such as site structure.
Many different factors can influence a website’s ranking in SERPs, including:
- Content quality and length
- Mobile-first / mobile friendliness
- Page speed
- Site structure and hierarchy
A common misconception is that domain authority is a ranking factor. Domain authority is not a direct ranking factor. Instead, it scores how high a website is likely to appear in search results. However, it can be used to measure and quantify ranking potential.
What is web design?
Web design involves planning and organising content for display on a website. It can encompass functional elements, such as navigation, and aesthetic elements, such as graphics. An effective web design that helps increase user experience is necessary for higher ranking potential.
There are several types of web design, including responsive and dynamic. Responsive web design is one of the most popular types. A responsive website automatically adjusts the layout and design of a page to suit the display size. This makes a website easier to use and navigate on any device.
There are several steps or processes involved in web design. Steps can include determining the goal, laying out the site’s structure, creating content, acquiring visual elements, and optimising for SEO. Implementing aspects of a good web design aid in ranking potential too.
Web design essentials to consider for SEO
1. Create quality content
The first web design essential to consider for SEO is creating quality content. Quality content is among the top 3 Google ranking factors, so it should be no surprise how important it is. You must create content that answers your customer’s needs or problems to gain higher rankings.
You should create a buyer persona to help you develop quality content that provides value. This will give you an insight into what appeals to your customers. You should also create content in line with Google’s E-A-T guidelines.
Other tips for creating quality content include:
- Relevancy to your business and customers
- Regularly updating with new content
- Content is readable and easily understood
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Ensure content is free from any errors or mistakes
- Each piece of content has a clear structure using headings
2. Easy navigation
Easy navigation is another web design essential for SEO. Creating seamless navigation throughout your site is important for your users and search engines. Implement seamless navigation using an easy-to-follow menu at the top of the site and internal links with clear, descriptive anchor text.
3. Mobile friendliness
In the mobile age, both web users and Google prefer mobile-friendly websites. More than half of all global web traffic now comes from mobile devices. Your website must be mobile-friendly to avoid losing a large percentage of web traffic.
Google now follows a mobile-first indexing approach, meaning a mobile site will be crawled over the desktop site. A responsive web design or a mobile-first approach can ensure your website is accessible, easy to navigate, and readable on all mobile devices.
4. Page speed
Page speed is another top web design essential to consider for SEO. Not only is page speed a ranking factor, but it also massively affects user experience. The longer a user waits for a page to load, the more likely they will leave your site.
Ideally, the faster your site or pages load, the better. According to Google, a page load time increase from 1 to 3 seconds can see up to 32% of users leave a page without interaction. This increases to 90% when load time increases to 5 seconds.
Check how fast your web pages are using Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool. PageSpeed Insights will also provide recommendations for decreasing your page speed.
5. Site structure
Like easy navigation, you should also ensure an easy-to-follow site structure when designing a website. Not only does having a structure in place make it easier to crawl, but it provides a flow for your users that improves their experience.
Site structure involves organising a website’s content by grouping or linking similar pages or content under one category. Implementing an effective site structure can aid in improving a website’s navigation.
Implementing a structure within your content can also help by using headings. Use a single H1 for the page’s title. Then use H2 and H3 for headings and subheadings within your content. Effective use of headings provides a clear structure to content that makes it easier to read.
How useable is your website? A site’s usability is another web design essential to consider for SEO. Ensuring every part of a site works without fault is essential for your users and search engines. Functionality and usability also positively contribute to the user experience.
Some tips for improving the useability of a site include:
- Minimise the use of plugins or third-party features.
- Check that all forms work correctly and content displays properly.
- Ensure your site is accessible.
- Reduce or minimise distractions that obscure a user from achieving their goal.
Links are the backbone of SEO. Without them, navigation is difficult, search engines struggle to discover new pages, and PageRank wouldn’t exist. Internal links to other pages on your site are just as important as inbound and outbound links.
You should be mindful of which code you use when designing a website. Many websites use HTML and CSS for developing their website. Not only is it universal code that can be used across devices and platforms, but it is readable by crawlers and renders almost seamlessly across browsers.
Every picture is worth a thousand words. The human brain processes visuals much quicker, meaning we understand visual messages much better than reading. A good web design will strike a balance between effective visuals and valuable content.
Visuals on a website can include the design, the use of colours, images, videos, call-to-actions, and much more. All these will play a role in developing engaging and visually appealing web pages. A visually appealing site can increase conversions and engagement.
Another web design essential to consider for SEO is optimising metadata. Metadata is data about data that describes the information or visuals on a page. Search engines can better understand a page through the use of metadata.
Important metadata you should optimise for your site include:
- Title tags for pages (this should be slightly different to the H1 heading).
- Meta description tags to briefly outline what the page is about.
- Meta robots tag to specify whether you want a link to be follow or no follow (this determines whether PageRank is passed or not).
- Meta keyword tag to outline the keywords you want a page to rank for.
- Canonical tag to specify the original version of a webpage to prevent self-competing rankings and duplicate content issues.
- Alt tags for images to describe the contents of a picture. This helps crawlers know what an image looks like, as they cannot see images like humans can.
- Author tag to specify the author of a page, which can be important for E-A-T.
All metadata are HTML snippets you can add directly to a page’s code. Any metadata will not appear on the page and is read by crawlers when crawling a page. Find out how to add metadata to your web page’s code.
The last step of any web design is ensuring crawlability. Whether for a new site or after updating the design or content of a page, it’s important that search engine crawlers can crawl and index your pages. Otherwise, all your efforts will be in vain.
You can submit your sitemap to Google via Google Search Console. Go to Indexing and then Sitemaps. Enter the link of your sitemap and click ‘submit’. A sitemap lists all the pages of a site on a domain. Files, such as videos, can also be included in a sitemap.
You should also consider setting up a robots.txt file. A robots.txt file provides instructions for search engine crawlers on which pages they can crawl. Never exclude a page from your robots.txt to try and hide pages from search results. Only unimportant pages should be included.
Examples of instructions you can include are:
- User-agent to specify the search engine bot, such as Googlebot.
- Disallow to specify the page links or files you want to exclude from crawling.
- Crawl-delay to specify a time the crawler bot should wait before crawling a page.
You can also check the crawlability of a page by checking the Google Search Console. Paste the link into the top search bar to view the status of a page. Search Console will provide reasons why a page cannot be crawled. Address these issues and resubmit a page for crawling.
Implementing the web design essentials above to your website can help your SEO efforts. Whether implementing a site structure that’s easy to navigate or speeding up your pages, your users and search engines will thank you. The result is a boost in conversions and rankings.