We usually think of SEO in terms of content. And we want our blog posts and articles to be filled with those popular keywords and engaging information and entertainment that keeps visitors and followers coming back for more. You work hard to gain those backlinks that tell everyone you are popular and an expert in your niche. After all, those search engine bots are watching your every move.
In all of our efforts to gain SEO, we sometimes forget all about our website and how it, too, may impact SEO. After all, it is there that we really want visitors and followers to come, so that we can promote the products/services we provide.
The Role of Design in SEO
Most professional designers understand that web design is more than just a sleek, cool site. There are other considerations which relate to SEO, and these cannot be ignored. Here are some of those factors.
Over half of web traffic now comes from mobile devices, and Google has realized this. That is why it has now adopted a mobile-first strategy, indexing mobile sites ahead of desktop ones. The implications for designers are obvious. What key content is placed on the website must also appear on the mobile site or app and in much the same way. Otherwise, Google will not index it well.
There is an upside to all of this, though. Google also recognizes that mobile versions, with their smaller screens, will need to place content behind accordions or tabs. And there will be no penalties for this design. In fact, Google itself created a post about the change. Good designers will read through this information, to get a detailed understanding before creating a mobile-first site.
- Organizing Those URL’s
Google is not happy when URL’s are not clear and specific. If a user is searching for something specific, the more specific your URL can be, the better. You may be in the business of pet supplies, for example. If a searcher is looking for dog beds, and you have a page related to those products, then the URL must be specific to that. So, rather than something like, “www.domain.com/id658924,” the URL should read “www.domain.com/pet-supplies-beds.” Google will now index it correctly in the category of pet beds.
- The Need for Speed
Visitors want fast loads. So does Google, and speed is a ranking factor. In fact, 40% of consumers state they will abandon a site that does not load within three seconds. While this is not a hard and fast “rule,” seed is obviously important, both as visitors bring up a site and as they navigate through its pages. A good designer will know how to increase speed.
- Use of Images
If you can say it with images rather than text, do so. Visuals and videos are what mobile device users want – they don’t want to read print on a tiny screen. Plus, the more visuals, the more people will stay.
The issue is, of course, that large heavy images will slow a site down. Designers use compression tools to combat this – those that provide good compression without impacting quality.
Another important SEO factor is to use captions and alt tags for descriptive purposes.
- Clear Navigation
Visitors to a site want and easy and seamless experience. Otherwise they don’t stay. And if they bounce quickly, Google knows it. This mean that tabs and links must be very specific, so a visitor knows where to go to find the information needs. And if the site is an e-commerce one, shopping cart and checkout must be streamline, especially if the site owner does not want to face abandoned carts.
- Localization for Foreign Audiences
Designers who will be creating sites that are to be translated into foreign languages (either for local non-native speakers or for expansion into other countries), will need to understand that translation is not the same as localization. It takes an expert in the cultural nuances and unique idioms/phrasing of a foreign language to do this right. The most effective solution is to find the best translation site possible and get a consultant. Nothing can be worse than offending an entire group of potential customers, because goofs have been made.
- Stuffing – It’s Not a Good Thing
Content marketers learned this quite a while ago. They researched what they thought would be the most used keywords and keyword phrases and literally stuffed them in any place they could, even when they made no sense in placement. Google hanged all that, penalizing this practice.
In website design, popular keywords/phrases are still researched, and tools to do that have become quite sophisticated. Still, using them only as they can appear naturally in the midst of text is critical.
- Being Printer-Friendly
You may think that this could have nothing to do with SEO, but it does indirectly. If visitors can print out pages of your site, so that they can review them later, chances are they will return, once they have had that opportunity. And use CSS – it will get rid of debris.
- Plan for Resolution Variety
Google may index mobile sites first, but they will still track traffic to the desktop version too, as well as the number of other screen sizes available to users. All visuals/images and even text must display well, or visitors will be turned off. If the design is responsive as created, this should not be a problem. Still, the site must be tested on all possible devices.
- Avoid Flash
It’s a common problem. A user gets a message, “Flash Player has stopped working.” It’s frustrating and often a cause for a user to bounce. And, because of its “iffy” stability, Google does not particularly like it either.
One More Note
This list of 10 considerations ought to help keep search engines happy with your site. It’s important to remember that Google does index every page of a website, actually crawling around about once a week. It’s smart to update a site regularly, with new content, and to regularly test to be sure that links are all working and that everything loads quickly and smoothly.