There are two things that are inseparable when it comes to starting an online business: search engine optimisation (SEO) and Web design. Web design has a monumental impact on SEO, but when it comes to SEO, many people think that SEO is all about, page relevancy, keywords, link building, and so on. Many fail to realize Web design has a big role to play in SEO; hence, they end up overlooking it.
As a matter of fact, there is more to Web design than just aesthetics. A good website design should make it easier for both end users and search engine bots to navigate your website. From a basic two-page brochure website to a multinational corporate site with hundreds of dynamic pages, certain design aspects must be present in any Internet site or they will be negatively impacted. Here are a few things to take into consideration when creating a website to boost your search engine rankings.
Role of Web Design in SEO
As you can see, SEO and Web design go hand-in-hand. Many web designers have seen the need to incorporate SEO in the web design process. It becomes easier to get traffic to your site if it is designed with SEO in mind.
A website may be dazzling and attractive, but if it is not SEO-friendly, you restrict the website from being visible in the search engines. Integrating SEO appropriately in your website design includes several aspects such as navigation, technology, content and linking, among others.
1. Navigation is important
When users visit your site, they will immediately see your overall Web design. If they think your site is outdated or slow, they will exit the site instantly. This eventually contributes to your site’s ranking because Google takes into consideration the bounce rates of sites when ranking it. Therefore, your website should be both aesthetically pleasing and be simple to navigate when browsing.
The way you arrange the elements on your website is critical because your potential customers should be able to find what they are looking for without experiencing any difficulties. There should be a consistent flow of content and ideas between the site’s pages so that your visitors can stay on the site for longer.
If your visitors can find what they are looking for, they are most likely to return in future. Your website navigation is not only important from the visitors’ point of view, but it is also important for the search engines as well. Lack of proper navigation can have an adverse effect on your search engine rankings.
SEO-friendly navigation is critical because it makes it easier for your visitors to find what they are searching for. This ensures that people who use the site are more likely to return because of the positive experience they have had. Therefore, by ensuring good navigation on the site you will help both your users and search engines to see your website in a positive light and to rank it respectively.
Flash is a classic example of a technology that has the ability to create fantastic visual websites that look amazing but have major problems when it comes to search engines understanding and ranking them. Some people are now claiming these technologies are more SEO friendly. The truth of the matter is that search engines still have major problems extracting information such as link data and relevant keywords from these sites. An example would be 100 percent Flash sites which are unable to provide unique URLs for various webpages. These are essential for sharing links, bookmarking, Web analytics and inbound linking. Flash-heavy sites are one of the most difficult to rank because they decrease the amount of content available for search engine indexing to show relevancy to keywords. Search engines also find it difficult to understand inbound linking quantities and their relationship to the content of the website.
3. The size of the site matters
The size of your website can have a big impact on your search engine rankings. The more content you have, the more relevant text and keywords can be incorporated. But it is important to note that your website will not simply rank higher by having more pages. According to Search Engine Journal, having more pages only allows you to have a platform to use more SEO techniques and rank for more keywords than you would with thinner content.
That means that having more webpages that are properly optimized gives you a better chance of ranking higher than when you have a smaller number of pages. In other words, do not focus on creating many pages just for the sake of it. As a matter of fact, a smaller website with higher quality content would rank higher than a large site with copied, irrelevant or poor, content that is not optimized.
4. Good HTML Coding
You need to make sure that your website’s HTML code is also optimised for search engines. This also applies to your entire website coding. For example, if you’re using WordPress for your website, you need to make sure that you avoid coding mistakes on its theme hierarchy and other technical aspects of website production that can negatively impact rankings. If you fail to code your site correctly, this could have a drastic effect on your search engine ranking. Search engines hate poor coding because:
The bottom line is to use best practices in coding and test results with an eye on SEO as well as function, aesthetics and speed.
5. Site speed
If a website is taking longer than three seconds to load, you can be sure it is going to perform poorly in the search engines. Most of a website’s performance is determined at the design stage.
Here are some of the things that could slow down your website’s speed.
6. Keyword, content and links
Content is king! During the process of building your website, it is important the Web designer understands what the site is all about. As we have mentioned above, the keywords selected should be relevant to the site and the specific pages they appear on. Strategic and meaningful placement of keywords will increase the chances of ranking.
Another element of web design is link building. This enables you to gain links from other websites to boost your search engine rankings. So while designing your website, make sure it is possible for other websites to link back to you easily to yield best results.
7. Overall design
When a visitor comes to your site, he/she has a couple of seconds to gain an impression on your website. If you have your homepage designed well, it will leave a lasting and positive impression on your visitors. It is always advisable to have a clean homepage that is free from clutter. If your colours, images, fonts and overall design are not clean and harmonious, people are more likely to exit the page as soon as possible.
8. Responsive design
Responsive design is a popular concept for all web designs because it involves designing a websites that is able to display on different devices and browsers. If you only have a website that is optimized for desktop computers then what is displayed on larger screens (ie TVs and large format monitors) and mobile devices (ie: tablets and Smartphones) can be poorly laid out or even unusable. You can lose many site visitors because the majority of Internet users are now using mobile devices to access websites.
Today, Web designers have more access to more technology, tools and options than they did even only a few years ago. So it can sometimes tempt designers to include many unnecessary elements in the websites that they are constructing. This may hinder the usability and the search engine performance of those websites. When it comes to designing websites, the rule of thumb is to always prioritizåe the end user and search engines during each stage of the process. The aim of the website should be to provide businesses opportunities by reaching the most people possible.
Joe Ryan is the founder and CEO of Digital Search Group, a U.K. online marketing agency that specializes in smart Internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family. Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn