When it comes to SEO, few people consider how design affects ranking. In fact, even when told that it does, it may not seem to make logical sense. After all, isn’t website SEO mostly about keywords? What could web design and SEO possibly have in common? How can they affect each other? Business owners who dismiss the connection between the two may not fully optimize their website for better rankings. This means missing an opportunity to escalate their SEO return on investment to new heights.
Note that every so often, new design features make their way through the world of design. More often than not, these trends are short-lived. The one design component that never goes out of style is simplicity. A minimalist website design is appealing to the eye and helps customers to find what they’re looking for without needless distractions. This is an important first step to keep in mind as you move through the design process for your own website or your own clients.
One important aspect of website SEO that most business owners know is choosing the right domain. Still, managers may falter in the execution. This can lead to domain names that do not make immediate sense. One of the most common mistakes people make is to stuff a domain name with keywords. Keywords might make it possible to identify an industry, but do they pinpoint your brand? Probably not.
Customers do pay attention to website URLs and may begin judging the quality of a company based on this before anything else. Forbes recommends the following tips for choosing a domain that makes practical sense for website SEO:
- Avoid abbreviations, homonyms and hyphens. Mixing numbers with words is also ill-advised. These can make URLs difficult to type or remember.
- Prioritize words that reinforce the brand’s identity and establish authority, such as the brand name itself.
- Avoid making the domain name too long or overly complex.
- Make the domain name easy to pronounce.
Crawling and Indexation
A common aspect of website SEO is website crawling. Search engines crawl websites to gather data about the site and better understand what it offers. Search engines do this periodically to account for the fact that websites do update over time, especially when there is a blog included or the website belongs to a news agency.
For now, search engines primarily crawl text. Therefore, use clear language to describe what the business does and what you have to offer. This is also where keywords come in.
Flash, pictures and videos do play a role, but their role should be supplementary. Using them to replace text may cost you in search engine ranking. Finally, note that the structure of your links may also affect the website indexing. Make good use of XML sitemaps and internal links.
Visuals play an important role in website SEO and design. Striking images attract customers’ interest and may help you to retain their attention. Imagery also helps the company to stand out.
Photos and videos play another important role too. You can optimize your visuals to further improve the SEO performance of your website. Here’s how:
- Give the image a name that clearly describes what it is. You may include a keyword.
- Use specific details in the alt text so that people who cannot see the image may have an idea of what it is.
- Decrease the size of the images to ensure they do not require too much bandwidth to load. Bigger images mean slower loading times.
- Find out whether images would make a good inclusion in your XML sitemap.
WordPress is one of the most popular business website platforms in the world. It offers a business plan, reliable hosting and good built-in website SEO features. Even so, as with anything that comes standard, there are often better options available. Consequently, many people build on WordPress and other platforms but choose another company to handle the hosting. This allows you to take advantage of higher speeds, decreasing the loading time for your website.
How do you ensure this isn’t a situation of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? You need to vet your hosting company carefully. The first thing to check when considering a new hosting company is the server reliability. What are the uptime scores and how secure are these servers? How great is the customer service? What do customers say about the company? Compare features across platforms with the cost of maintenance and registration to decide what company offers the best website SEO value.
Overall Website Speed
One of the main reasons reliable hosting is so important is the speed. Another factor affecting speeds is all the bells and whistles a webpage may include. Speed can affect a company’s Alexa Ranking as well as its SEO ranking. This becomes especially important for people who may view content on smartphones or tablets. However, it is also important when loading the website on desktop or laptop devices.
Slow websites may experience higher bounce rates, thereby negatively impacting website SEO. This happens when customers tire of waiting and close the webpage before it even finishes loading. General frustration and impatience may play a role in an era of immediate gratification. Also, not everyone has a high-speed connection everywhere they go. This is especially problematic for travelers when overseas or when in rural areas.
Content Management System
Entrepreneur.com refers to CMS as the juice behind a company’s website. Here, too, WordPress remains one of the most popular, but there are other platforms to consider. When choosing a CMS, ensure you select a platform that can handle everything you may need to throw at it. This includes text, static images, GIFs, videos and galleries. CMS platforms that restrict what kind of content they handle can limit what kind of content you produce as part of your marketing campaign.
Business managers should also note their technical website SEO skills. You may outsource the writing, but chances are that you handle the actual posting in-house. If a CMS platform is too technical then you may struggle with doing this on your own. Even if you understand it well and have become used to it, if you ever need to outsource this task, it may become difficult to train someone else to do it.
Cleaning Up Content
There is a second aspect of site management that may improve the SEO performance of your website. Have you ever completed a website query, found a promising link in the top three results and clicked on it only to get a 404 error? Or maybe the error came from clicking on an internal link to get additional information.
To improve website SEO, try to minimize links to deleted content as much as possible. When you decide to do away with a webpage, try to include a redirect notice. If this is not possible, then do an audit of the website and your social media to eliminate links to this webpage. If you use Google Analytics or an equivalent service, it may be able to point you to these pages or links automatically if you miss them.
Ease of Navigation
When a business owner invests in website SEO, it isn’t purely for the sake of a higher ranking. This is a means to an end. The business owner wants to generate more high-quality leads that result in more sales and greater revenue. However, if potential customers struggle to find what they need, they may become frustrated and close the website. Then, they get what they need from your competitor instead.
One study cited by Forbes showed that when companies failed to prioritize ease of navigation, it cost them customers. The results of the study indicated that words play a role in this aspect of design too. It discouraged companies from using generic words, such as “Services” as headers. Instead, more specific headers proved more effective.
Business Insider notes the importance of investing in mobile-friendly websites. Companies may do so by building websites that naturally load well on smaller screens or by building a separate website for mobile devices altogether. Note that because of Google’s mobile-first index, having a mobile-friendly website can improve your SEO ranking in mobile searches.
Not surprisingly, 54% of businesses have mobile-friendly website design on the company’s website SEO to-do list. Virtually everyone in America owns a smart device and many people use them to do online searches. If a website cannot load properly on these devices, Google penalizes the website. It then ranks mobile-friendly sites ahead of the other result options.
Partner With the Right Company
When designing a new or upgraded website, few designers consider website SEO. As a result, a lot of business owners become confused when their new and improved website leads to a dismal drop in website traffic and SEO performance.
If you’re offering website design to your clients, or looking to spruce up your own site, Boostability can help. Take advantage of our free website analysis. Don’t yet have a website? Call us at 1-800-261-1537 and ask us about your web design and SEO services today.