7 Tips for Designing a SEO Friendly Website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential element of website design. You can have a magnificent-looking website with exceptional content, but your hard work won’t accomplish anything if people – lots of people – don’t visit the site. That’s where SEO comes in, and it’s key to focus on this even before you start designing.
Designing with an eye on optimization will help land your site higher on search engine result pages: do the work in the design stage and you’ll reap the benefits right away.
Here are our 7 tips for accomplishing this:
UX (User Experience)
In addition to being SEO friendly, your website has to be user friendly, which means that in addition to looking good, the site has to engage visitors in a positive experience. One way to ensure this is to design an easy-to-navigate website. Offer users an uncomplicated menu and links; if it takes someone more than a few seconds to find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to leave your site and try another one.
Content hierarchy (deciding what’s most relevant to site visitors) is another important consideration and should be a priority. Links can come in very handy here. Internal linking increases traffic from one page to another within your website; those strategically placed multiple clicks can improve your search engine rankings. Try to keep external links to a minimum, since once someone has clicked away to another site, there’s no guarantee they’ll return to yours.
Keywords are, in a word, key to SEO. And there’s no great mystery to it. Keyword generation is actually rather simple and straightforward: find words that directly apply to your company’s product or service and use them in your site content. Do this when first designing your website and you won’t have to do a lot of revising later on.
If you’re struggling to find keywords on your own, a keyword generator application will find them for you, then use the words in content across your website. But don’t throw keywords in randomly just to have more of them. Google and other search engine algorithms can spot this kind of keyword overloading and it won’t do you any good; in fact, you might even get knocked further down in a search ranking because of it.
Keywords are just one reason why website content is a central component of SEO. Yes, your site needs to be keyword rich, but use them meaningfully. Your content should also be fresh and updated regularly. Search engines recognize and prioritize up-to-date content, so be strategic with your keywords and stay relevant with current news articles and original postings.
Blogs are an excellent way to execute this. A blog can offer the latest information about your product or service and link to different pages on the website as well. Blogs also add a personal touch that can make a closer connection between the reader and your company and more organically promote future contact.
Search Engine Friendly URLs
An effective URL is short, descriptive, easy to read – and SEO friendly. Your URL is probably the first thing your potential customer will see. Just as importantly, it’s the first thing Google will see in determining where your site will come up in a search.
Using keywords and key phrases in creating a URL is as important here as in overall website content. But avoid keyword repetition; it’s distracting and also can be a red flag to a search engine algorithm. Also stay away from special characters and symbols. Keep your URL as short as possible while maintaining its general meaning.
Did you know that site speed is a Google ranking factor? That’s right, if your pages load too slowly, there’s a good chance you’ll be moved further down in an online search. And if someone is sitting in front of their computer or mobile screen and waiting too long for a page to load, for sure they’ll move on to another site. This is especially true with mobile users, who generally expect instantaneous results.
Check your website to see how long it takes to load and then see what it’s like when you move from one page to the next. There are a number of possible reasons why your site could be slow, including too many graphics or plug-ins, large graphic files or faulty server performance. Ironically, too much traffic can also slow down a website, just like a traffic jam on a highway: too many people trying to get to the same place the same way at the same time.
Visual appeal is an important part of the user experience. You want your users to be drawn to your website, both in terms of content and appearance. At the same time, though, you don’t want to overwhelm them with flashy, over-the-top style or too many distracting elements.
A simple and unified site design is generally the best way to go. Put yourself in the place of your prospective site visitors. What do you like to see when you first visit a website? What don’t you like? Think about the factors that are most likely to keep you on a page. Another thing to keep in mind is creating visual content associated with your brand, using either your logo or unique custom images (photos or graphics) that reappear on the website. In addition to being appealing to visitors, these can factor into your SEO ranking.
Formulating a strategy that lands you on the top tier of a search engine is great, but your website has to deliver once the user is there. These days more and more users are accessing your site on a mobile device – and those numbers are going to grow – so it’s essential that your website is optimized for mobile use. Mobile friendliness is now a ranking issue in Google’s algorithm, so if you haven’t yet made your website mobile responsive, now’s the time to do it.
Social media also plays a role in mobile optimization and must be a part of your SEO strategy. Social media platforms are mostly accessed from mobile devices, and you can link content from your website to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks. This is shared with your followers, and whenever they Like or Retweet or share your content, it’s a boost to you in SEO. Plus, the extended interest in your site ultimately generates more traffic.
The tips we offer here should help you achieve a productive balance, but if you’re still feeling a bit fuzzy on the concept of web design, feel free to check out The Beginner’s Guide to Web Design. This guide packs tons of great information into a straightforward, easy to consume format that can help you elevate your web design knowledge. And if you want to take it a step further, get in touch with us about how we can help grow your digital presence.
Ready to start a project or really curious about our process? Drop us a note or give us a call; we’re happy to answer all your questions.