Nowadays, almost all businesses have an online presence, but not all websites are created equally. Some draw you in immediately with their looks while others make you want to throw your laptop out of the nearest window. The difference between a badly designed website over a well-designed one is huge. The proof is in the traffic they receive and retain.
If you want to make serious waves online, it’s best practice to concentrate on your SEO and web design simultaneously. It’s a lesser-known fact that these components actually work together in many ways. When executed well, they form a formidable partnership that results in seamless user experience.
The issue is that lots of people think they only need a flashy looking website to pull in business, but we know that this isn’t true. Without search engine optimization (SEO), no one will find your website in the first place. You could have the best-looking website on the planet, but it’ll forever remain devoid of traffic if the SEO isn’t right.
On the flip-side, many business owners believe that they just need to get their SEO on-point and the rest will take care of itself. While it’s fantastic to get the top spot on a Google search, no one is going to stay for long if your website looks unprofessional. It’s like visiting a well-advertised tourist attraction only to find it’s run-down and neglected. Some people will keep turning up but they will leave immediately in search of something better.
The Most Important Ranking Factors
SEO uses a number of factors to determine how well you rank in search results. The most important ones are:
- Page speed
- Optimized content
- Technical SEO
- User experience
- Website accessibility
- Website links
- Social links
- Domain age, authority, and URL
- Real business information
When we look at this list, we can begin to see how many of these factors are related to web design and how it’s intertwined with SEO. Without a well-designed website, the bottom line is that you’re not going to be ranked well by Google and other search engines.
When working out your website design, SEO always needs to be at the forefront of your mind because it will influence the outcome. From where you place an image to the subject of a blog article, it all matters.
How Fast is Your Website?
How quickly a website loads is a well-known factor for ranking well with Google. Your loading time is, therefore, an important aspect of your SEO. Bad web design can slow loading time down, which will cause users to abandon your site and Google may rank you lower in search results. Depending on how bad it is, Google may not even rank you at all.
To win in this area, your website needs to load in two seconds or less. If it takes three seconds or more, then you’re already losing up to half of the people who try to visit. A well-designed website will load quickly so that more people get to see it.
There are several things you can do to take care of a slow-loading website:
- Minimize your HTTP requests. An HTTP request is made for each component on a web page (images, videos, style sheets, etc.) if your web pages are overloaded with content, you will experience this issue.
- Enable compression
- Reduce or remove page redirects
- Improve server response time
- Reduce image sizes and make sure they’re in the right file format
Get Your Keyword Placement Right
One mistake that people make in web design is to cram each page with SEO keywords and phrases. While this will prime the website for ranking well with Google, it doesn’t necessarily result in great user experience. Overdoing the keywords can also mean you’re penalized by Google for doing this. Getting SEO right is a fine line to tread.
Furthermore, if your content is difficult to read or doesn’t flow well, then you’re going to put people off. Keyword placement needs to be meaningful and strategic, so it fits seamlessly into the content. Ideally, users shouldn’t notice keywords at all.
- While keywords should be used several times on a page, it’s crucial not to overdo them. Otherwise, Google will mark your site as spam.
- Organize each page of content, so you have a main heading as well as subheadings.
- Headings and subheadings should also contain your keywords.
- The main bulk of the page content should be divided into neat paragraphs and not be too lengthy. If there’s a need to go into lots of detail, have the information available as a download or ebook.
- Your content should be relevant and meaningful to your business or industry.
- SEO is not an afterthought. It needs to be the first thing you think of when creating content for your website. Get it right the first time, and you won’t be spending precious time rewriting your content to include SEO.
Clear The Clutter
We’ve come a long way since the luridly colored, impossible-to-read websites from the early ’90s. Modern website design is clean and flowing, and users should be able to read it with ease.
- Think carefully about what content you want and need on each page. Keep it succinct and to the point.
- Use images but ensure they’re high-quality and relevant to the content. Place them so they don’t interfere with the flow and how users read the pages.
- Use a font that’s easy to read and a text color that contrasts well with the background color. Black on white or similar gradients of color is best. Make sure the font is not too small.
- Place your menu bar and call-to-action buttons in obvious places.
- Keep in mind those with disabilities and what you can do to make sure they can navigate or read the page with ease.
A website that looks and feels good will cause the user to stick around for a lot longer than a website that doesn’t.
Optimize For Mobile Use
One crucial but often overlooked aspect of SEO and web design is making the website compatible for viewing on mobile devices. Most websites are designed using a laptop or desktop and are made according to the dimensions and layout of larger, wider screens. However, mobile device screens are completely different dimensions, so a website layout that works on a laptop will likely look bad on a mobile screen.
Having a mobile-friendly website became an SEO ranking factor for Google in 2015, so if yours isn’t optimized for this, you’re already missing out. Besides this, more than half of all web traffic goes through mobile devices, which makes this aspect of web design even more important.
Your website should look just as good and run just as smoothly on a mobile device as it does on a laptop or desktop. When designing your site, you should switch back and forth from the mobile view to desktop view to ensure your layout works for both.
Get Your Website A Sitemap
Just like a real map tells you where to go and what to see along the way, a sitemap tells search engines how to navigate your website. The sitemap is a guide for all the pages and content that’s available and which of it is most important.
Sitemaps also allow search engines to be smarter in how they crawl your website. They contain useful metadata that guides the search engines through the pages and content. Additionally, the metadata also gives pages a better chance of ranking well.
Sitemaps can also help the user out by showing them where they need to go to find the information they need. This aspect is crucial for larger, complex websites but should also be implemented for newer, smaller websites too.
Raise The Trust Factor
Google uses the reputation and trust of a website as one of its ranking factors. It takes moments to form an opinion, so what users first see when they land on your website really matters. Beautiful-looking, clean, and streamlined web pages instantly raise the trust-factor. A website that looks outdated or is clunky to use will put people off.
Additionally, poor or irrelevant content isn’t going to keep eyes on your site. You need to establish yourself as an expert or thought-leader within your niche or industry. This is done by providing highly valuable and well-written content.
The more users trust your website, the more links you will receive to guide people to the content. For example, you sell yoga mats, and you post a high-quality article on your website about avoiding sprain injuries. Several respected yoga teachers find and read your content. They like it so much that they provide a link to your article from their websites and social media accounts. These links are the holy grail of SEO. Google loves them. The more you have, the higher you will be ranked.
Up your content game:
- Provide original, expertly written content
- Make sure it has a high value to those that work or are involved in your industry
- Never buy or artificially insert links into other websites
- Provide links on your website to other website’s content
Where To Start With Your Website
If you’ve already got a website up and running, it can seem like a daunting task to overhaul it to include great SEO and web design. The issue is that technology and Google’s ranking factors are constantly evolving. Therefore, if you want to remain at the top of your game, you should be reviewing your website on a regular basis anyway.
Start by carrying out an audit of your website’s aesthetics and content:
- Is the theme and look of your website outdated?
- Is it easy to read and navigate?
- How long do the pages take to load?
- How does it look when viewed on a mobile device?
- Is your content up-to-date and relevant?
- Are there any broken or dead links on your web pages?
- Do you have a sitemap?
- Does your content include keywords or phrases?
- Are these keywords and phrases still relevant?
- Where do you currently appear when you perform a Google search?
Once you’ve answered the above questions, you will begin to build a picture of the work that needs to be done. You may find that you only need to tweak a few things here and there, or you could be in line for a complete redesign. Whatever the case, having your website fully optimized will pay for itself in the long-run.
SEO and web design should be considered an unbreakable partnership. Like salt and pepper, the two complement each other and make the final product the best it can be. A website is a gateway to your business. If it’s not looking good, then no one is going to want to enter it. Similarly, if no one can find it in the first place, how do you ever hope to gain any business from it?
Give your website and business the face lift it deserves. Invest in your SEO and web design. You will thank yourself later.