As professionals in the digital marketing industry, we can tell you with a great degree of certainty, that there is a definitive link between web design and SEO. Whilst the connection may appear subtle (and this is often the reason it goes unacknowledged) it certainly exists. Since every business wants to rank for their share of keywords, and only so many can make it to the top of SERPs, every little bit counts. Interestingly, search engines like Google evaluate websites on many different ranking factors. Some professionals estimate a few hundred factors that the search engine considers, and web design happens to be a part of it.
In the past, it was possible to get away with designing websites that simply looked aesthetically pleasing, even if they lacked a certain degree of substance. However, things are now more competitive than ever, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and to overlook the multiple facets that make a great website in 2021, is to set your business up for failure in the digital ether. Modern websites need to be fast, easy to understand, intuitive, conversion-focused and be straightforward for search engine crawlers to index. Incidentally, many of these elements are ranking factors!
What is SEO Web Design?
As someone in the market for web design, or indeed a redesign, you are bound to run into this term. SEO web design is a term used for a website that’s designed to be SEO friendly. Digital marketing agencies like HookedOnMedia use the term ‘SEO friendly’ to describe websites that tend to have a higher chance of ranking, if effective SEO practices are followed, consistently. It’s our view that just about every website (especially those that hope to generate traffic, and therefore the potential for profit) should be SEO-focused.
On the surface, it can appear as though recruiting the help of professional SEO specialists, whilst also seeking the help of web designers, is serving two different masters. In, reality, both will help your business accomplish pretty much the same thing. Both professionals are trying to make sure that visitors find what they are looking for on your website, stay on the site longer, and convert to customers or subscribers.
When web design and SEO are approached as a whole, it impacts the business’s ability to rank. A website that ranks well consequently has a direct effect on its bottom-line. That’s why SEOs like us may often ask that clients get their site design optimised or, better yet, redesigned.
The Use of Streamlined Coding and Implementing Scalable Web Design
In the past couple of years, there has been an extensive focus by web designers and especially those who do SEO web design, to debloat websites. Debloated websites load faster, which is an SEO benefit. In fact, Google has hinted many times at website speed being a ranking factor, with many SEO professionals who have tested this saying that speed does factor into ranking. The best strategy to ensure that your website is optimised for search is to stick with CSS and HTML, but even then, the website may need to be further optimised.
Scalability is another major ranking factor and is one of the leading reasons why so many websites, especially those with commercial intent, are redesigned. Scalability refers to a website’s ability to resize depending on the size of the screen that it is being accessed on. For instance, a website should look just as good and be just as easy to navigate on a 6-inch mobile screen as it is on a 32” inch desktop computer monitor.
Building scalability into designs has become relatively easy over the years. Content management and blogging platforms like WordPress will now auto-scale a website. However, it’s essential, especially since Google has stated and clearly outlined that it will consider primarily mobile-friendly websites with their “mobile-first” approach.
Your Website Has to Be Mobile Friendly
Not only is a lot of business now done via mobile devices, but as stated earlier, Google has taken a ‘mobile-first’ approach to website indexing. That’s why for any website to rank, it has to be mobile-friendly, and there is no way around it. To check if your website is mobile-friendly, try accessing it via your mobile device using a browser like Safari or Chrome for mobile. Check how it looks? Is it easy to navigate, is the text readable? If not, then your website will have to be designed for mobile devices.
Web designers employ various techniques to make websites more mobile-friendly while avoiding duplicate content, which could be a problem if there are multiple versions of the website. That said, some methods are more effective than others, which is why you should leave this bit up to the experts.
Make Sure to Optimize Images and Text on Your Website
Web designers tend to focus significantly on non-text elements, but you also need to choose the right fonts and sizes. Here too, the mobile-first approach needs to be considered. The objective is to ensure that the text type and size you choose is easily readable on a mobile screen. Then make sure that it looks just as good on a larger screen.
You will also want to ensure that your website is readable. In other words, the designer should leave enough white space for the written copy. Since you will possibly need a lot of informative content to rank, make sure that there is more than enough white space. But the whitespace shouldn’t be at the expense of making the website look bland.
One last step before you publish anything on your website is to optimise the images and their alt tags. You will want to use best practices to optimise images. However, the best thing to do is limit the number of images and make sure they are optimised. Doing this makes the design look cleaner and ensures shorter loading times. If you are using a content management platform like WordPress, a plugin can be used to automatically optimise images using pre-defined preferences.
As you can see, there is a link between web design and SEO. However, good website design will also ensure that visitors to your website convert; after all, that’s the purpose of having a website in the first place!