It’s almost impossible to talk about SEO without mentioning web design. This is because SEO and web design play a crucial role in where you appear on the Search Engine Result Pages(SERPs) due to the relationship between the two as reflected by the Google Algorithm. For instance, according to Google’s John Mueller, “There’s no [speed] limit per page. Make sure they load fast, for your users. I often check http://webpagetest.org and aim for <2-3 secs [load time].” And, page load time is heavily impacted by your web design decisions, such as how you load images, your theme, and how you handle other aspects of your website that may slow down your site. Plus, while SEO attracts visitors to your website, your web design keeps the audience engaged on your platform.
For this reason, you must focus on website elements that improve both your SEO and web design rather than treating them as unrelated parts of your online business. Aspects such as mobile responsiveness, speed, and navigation are top priorities on your list as you begin building your website or as you redesign the site. These basic elements help search engines to better understand your website and rank you higher on SERPs.
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The relationship between SEO and web design
Search engines, like Google, crawl the Internet looking for new content, categorizing and ranking that content, then storing it away in massive databases until a user enters a search term. Then, the search engine returns links related to the user’s intent; ordering results based on ranking factors. SEO encapsulates the elements comprising a complex ranking algorithm to guide website owners on ways to improve their rank and, thus, drive more traffic to their websites.
Because search engines live or die based on their ability to deliver on user intent and, because users count on search engines to provide valuable information that satisfies their search, rank must consider the user rather than serve a website owner. For this reason, ranking factors involve both technical issues, such as keywords that help search engines categorize content, and usability factors to ensure users have a good experience once they choose a link from the search engine results. When search engines fail to deliver on this implied promise, users quickly turn to another search engine for future searches. Because Google accounts for 80+% of all searches, most website owners attempt to improve their rank on Google’s SERPs.
Since web design is mostly about how a website looks and functions, design greatly impacts the user’s experience, hence design impacts SEO, due to the efforts of search engines discussed above. That’s why, as you task a developer to build your site, you must employ an SEO expert to work on elements important for ranking. The two should work together to implement the best SEO web design practices that are pleasing to both humans and search engines.
How to take advantage of web design and SEO relationships
It’s clear that good web designs improve SEO rankings. Here are five aspects of web design that take advantage of ranking to enhance your digital marketing strategies.
Imagine this: You search for a web design firm to build your website. Entering a search term reflecting your intent, you search through the top results and read the limited information accompanying the link — called a snippet. You click on a promising website and four seconds later the page fails to load. If my guess is right, you probably click back to search results looking for a more professional web design page.
Speed plays a crucial role in how many visitors open and stay on your page, as you see in the graphic below. Bounce rate reflects users who view only a single page of your website before leaving, while pageviews represent the number of pages viewed in a session before exiting the website. Obviously, many factors impact these metrics, but page speed contributes its own impact. These metrics also impact SEO, as search engines view page views and bounce rate as surrogates for the value of your content as expressed by visitors.
Image source: Pingdom
If you discover that you have high bounce rates, it’s essential to check your speed. A page taking more than 4 seconds to load costs you traffic. You must fix slow load times by changing elements of your web design. Issues such as large images, poorly designed themes, bad hosting, and inept plugins lead to slow load times that cost you traffic.
Just think of it this way, Walmart found that every 1-second improvement in their page load speed resulted in a 2% increase in conversion rate. As a business, this is a massive loss in customers and sales. That’s why, as you consider your SEO efforts, include minimalist web designs and other design elements to speed up your website to help you rank higher on SERPs.
As of 2020, mobile devices, excluding tablets, generated 48.59 percent of mobile traffic. This means almost half of all internet users use mobile devices for online activities. As more internet users continue accessing websites through smartphones and 5G technology diffuses through the population to improve Internet access, that number will increase.
It’s for this reason that Google considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in SERP. If a visitor accesses your website through a mobile device and can convert, Google rewards your responsiveness by increasing your rank. This change happened several years ago and Google penalizes websites not optimized for mobile, including buttons far enough apart to avoid accidental clicks, readable fonts, easy navigation, and good image handling. You’ll find tests of your website’s mobile-friendliness available through the Google Search Console. Google also offers insights to make your site more mobile-ready, as you see in the screenshot below.
Many themes now take care of ensuring mobile friendliness, just ensure you choose one of them before building or when rebuilding your website. My advice is to check out mobile-ready themes on a reputable site such as Themeforest on Envato.
Bringing traffic to your website is one thing. Including fonts and elements that make your content easy-to-read is another. If visitors can’t read the information you share on your website, your SEO strategy doesn’t make much difference since you can’t convert the traffic you drive in, plus, the bounces generated damage your rank.
People consume texts in different ways. While some may scan and pick bits of text, others read long articles to consume every little bit of information. Create an outstanding reader experience to make it easy for both audiences to understand your texts. Weird fonts on confusing backgrounds make text difficult to read.
Read this post for more information about making your website more readable, but here are the high points:
- use white space to invite readers
- organize content using headings and subheadings to allow readers to easily skim your text
- dark on light is easier for most readers, especially older ones
- ensure sufficient contrast between text and underlying elements such as backgrounds and images
- build websites with proper spacing between lines and characters
- bullet points and images make your text more scannable for readers
- organize information to ensure your thesis is clear
- check spelling and grammar to avoid misinterpretation
- avoid poor graphics
- consider variously challenged readers to provide access, such as alt text on graphics for the visually impaired who use text readers
- we all want to convert visitors but ensure your exit intention popup or those designed to gain subscribers don’t interfere with the usability of the website
Have you ever gone to a website and discovered you couldn’t find what you wanted? The problem might emanate from a page with lots of text but you couldn’t locate elements such as the call-to-action button or navigation panel. If a visitor came through an ad, ensure the ad sends them to the correct landing page, which also reduces cost and improves the performance of your ad.
Make it easy for visitors to share your content by placing follow and share buttons in prominent positions without interfering with your content.
For your SEO strategies to succeed, we recommend using a reliable web design firm. A professional designer knows where to place tabs, menus, or call-to-action buttons that motivate your audience to take action. They also ensure clarity and formats that capture the attention of visitors.
A poorly designed website reflects poorly on your business, making it look unprofessional and untrustworthy. Linking to reputable sites, including links to statistics and related video content shows visitors you’ve done your homework, increasing your trustworthiness and improving your performance.
Including reviews and testimonials also improves your credibility, just ensure these elements are genuine. A fake review creates more damage than not having reviews on your page at all. Amazon, for instance, goes to great lengths to ensure reviews are freely given and independent by removing reviews from folks connected to the manufacturer or seller.
If you want to improve your Google ranking, it’s essential to factor in SEO and web design. SEO web design makes it easy for visitors to locate your website and find what they are looking for in the shortest time possible.
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