If you’re a professional web designer, or you’ve invested in professional web design for your website, then you understand the importance of good design when it comes to delivering experiences that excite and engage your visitors.
In fact, good design can lead to higher conversions through the use of user journeys and other marketing tactics.
However, web design can only do its part if users actually end up on your website – and this is the job of SEO. Short for “Search Engine Optimization,” SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages to be more easily found by search engines and to help them get ranked higher on SERPs.
High search engine rankings are crucial to driving traffic to your blog and getting your brand found online. In fact, more than 75% of all clicks go to only the first five SERP results.
SEO is about more than researching and using the right keywords. It’s a multi-sided practice that should be incorporated in every facet of your website, including web design.
With that in mind, let’s look at the ways in which SEO will influence the web design process and help you create a better and more successful website:
Responsive and mobile-friendly web design
More than 50% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile users, and this share is growing all the time.
Google has recognized the shift towards mobile by implementing mobile-first indexing. This means that it first considers the mobile version of your website when determining its search engine rankings.
Google can even test whether your website is mobile-friendly or not, and provides this free tool to test it yourself.
SEO aside, responsive and mobile-friendly websites will help you cater to mobile users as well, expanding your market.
Google’s mission is not just to provide its users with the most relevant and high-quality content, but with great experiences as well.
Roughly 53% of users abandon a website that takes longer than 3s to load. Clearly, it doesn’t matter how great your content or design is – if the experience frustrates users, you’ll lose them to your competitors.
That’s why page speed is now a Google ranking factor. It’s also why you must consider performance when designing your website. That means either limiting or optimizing media, like images, video, and audio as well as writing clean code. You can also use tools like CDNs or automated image optimizers to speed up your loading times.
Creating the user journey
If you operate a website as a digital portal for your business, you probably aim to convert visitors in some way. Whether it’s selling products or services, capturing leads, or networking, you probably want users to take some action on your website that leads to further business together.
Great design creates a user journey that takes potential customers through this process. However, SEO can help facilitate that process and help you attract more high-intent leads.
One way to do that is by optimizing for long-tail keywords that target users at different stages of their journey. For example, someone who searches “where to buy a laptop?” is probably further along their buying journey than someone that searched “what to look for in a laptop?”
By creating content or pages optimized for these variations and working it into your user journeys, you’ll be able to more effectively convert visitors.
Using other media to improve SEO
When trying to optimize for SEO during the web design process, you should look at all your content as an opportunity.
For example, you can use images to optimize specifically for Google’s image search function. The same goes for videos and other content.
One way to do this is to always optimize the metadata associated with media, such as the alt attribute, caption, title, etc. By using highly relevant images, it will be associated with the surrounding text and also stand a higher chance of showing up in search results.
Soon, this might expand to other media, such as audio as well as Google’s technology advances.
On-page SEO might not directly affect the design process, but it’s something worth keeping in mind as you craft pages and content for your website.
On-page SEO involves how you use all of the following throughout your website pages:
- Keywords in key areas such as page title, image tags, headings, etc.
- Keyword density
- Outbound links
- Descriptive alt text for the images
- Internal linking
- Content length
When first designing a template or layout for your pages and posts, you should ensure that you make it easy to incorporate these elements.
For example, come up with blog post designs that fit the intended length of your articles or design a few different variations for various lengths.
Building links to your website
Link-building deserves a special mention as a way to grow your digital presence.
Link-building is the process of earning backlinks, or links from external websites to your website. Not only is having multiple, high-quality backlinks one of Google’s top ranking signals, but it also helps generate organic traffic from other sources to your website.
As a superb form of digital marketing, link-building services are highly prized today.
Guest posting, blogger outreach campaigns, content syndication, etc. are all great link-building strategies.
This is another area in which SEO and web design can work together. A great design will only improve your chances of others being willing to link to your website.
This process can be time-consuming. However, it’s well worth the effort in terms of growing your reach, impressions, and traffic.
Site and page structure
As any good web designer knows, the structure is very important when it comes to good web design.
How you organize the layout of your pages and website hierarchy will influence how you guide the user through their journey, focus their attention, and provide a pleasant experience.
However, proper site structure is also important for SEO.
For example, a proper category structure for your blog will naturally lead to more logical and optimized URLs. Just think about a travel blog where posts are organized under continents, then countries, and then cities.
Your link will look something like this: https://mytravelblog.com/europe/spain/barcelona without any further intervention.
Using proper headings, lists, and dividing your page into logical sections will also help Google index and crawl your content for search engine listings.
Yes, web design is crucial for maintaining a competitive digital presence today. However, that doesn’t mean you have to forget everything you know about web design or redo your entire website. In most cases, it simply takes learning about and understanding how SEO works and how you can utilize it to maximize your website’s rankings.
From there, all you need to do is stay mindful of SEO as you craft your beautiful website pages. Soon, you’ll get the hang of using both these disciplines together to create a more effective website.