SEO and web design can at times be the odd couple. Web designers thrive on creativity while SEOs desire changes that will get the site ranking on search engines. It’s not uncommon for SEOs to make suggestions that are sacrilege in the web design community. The thought of looking at your web design masterpiece that has been corrupted by an eyesore that will only appeal to the robots at Google can be a bitter pill to swallow.
Google has woken up to the silos that SEOs and web designers have been operating in for years and the search engine is now forcing the two groups to work in cohesion when it comes to web design. Google want’s website operators to publish a website and it’s content in a way that it will deliver value to the end user. SEOs that know the impact of any web design changes must successfully communicate it to their web development team in order to maximise both the user experience and SEO benefits. Web design and SEO agency Digital Next explain why web designers must adapt their role to deliver designs that will appeal to search engines as well as users.
Why should SEO be considered in web design?
There’s an old adage that goes “If a tree falls down in the woods and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This adage applies to web designs because you can develop the most amazing website, but without anybody being able to find it, the site will have no value. So web designers must incorporate SEO elements to make sure that people from the site’s target audience will be able to find the site easily.
However, first impressions count!
This is where SEO has failed in the past. In their quest for chasing rankings, SEOs have typically prioritised changing the web design of a web page in exchange for a poorer user experience. For example, one of the common tactics that was used in the past was the need to stuff keywords within the text of a web page. The keywords were then placed in floating div boxes as headings, internal links or scrolling content that would appear at the top of the HTML code.
This type of practice typically made the websites look cheap and outdated. Google has since taken action on this type of practice. This post discusses ways SEOs and web designers can improve web design that will maximise the SEO crawlability and user experience.
What are the critical SEO factors that must be incorporated so people will find the site on Google?
The site’s architecture and content needs to be crawlable. Think of it this way, if the site is designed like a maze, then people are going to get lost. Instead, make navigating through the website so easy that a young child could find their way through the site. Some web design elements that could be added include:
- Adding breadcrumb trails to the site.
- Adding an HTML and XML sitemap to the site.
- Avoiding any use of flash content and instead opting for HTML friendly content. This could include the use of JPEG, PNG or GIF images or embeddable video content.
- Structuring the layout of the text content on the page so that it improves the keyword relevancy of the web page. This includes the semantic layout of the text via headings, bolding and hyperlinking within the content.
- Implementing name convention processes to ensure that keywords are used when naming files and web pages.
How about the UX?
There isn’t any point to get your website onto the first page of Google if people are going to bounce off straightaway. The user experience is crucial to getting those visitors to stay and engage with the content on the web page. Google factors bounce rate in organic search, so design elements such as the use of colours, themes, web page loading times, call to actions, ads and pop-ups are crucial to improving the site’s engagement.
The longer the visitor stays on a site, the more likely they are to take an action with becoming a lead and even sharing the site’s content. This will also allow the site to earn links naturally, which will help the site’s SEO performance.
How can the world of web design and SEO merge successfully?
Before building the web design of a site, teams from both camps should discuss their goals and discuss a strategy that will implement both the design and SEO elements successfully. This will avoid additional development costs and the duplication of design work.
Over the long-term, the web design will reap the benefits of being visible to the site’s target audience and demonstrating how the design contributes value to the website’s overall goal and SEO execution. The web design is now becomes the tree that is heard by all in the forest.