When building a website, there are two aspects to think about: your audience and search engines.
You need a user-friendly website so that your customers can find the products and services they need, and you need an SEO-friendly website so that those customers can find you.
We’ll discuss how every business can benefit from SEO web design and explore ten strategies you can use to build a website with SEO in mind.
Why Every Business Needs an Optimized Website
It’s simple: even if your website has the best design ever, how are people going to find it if it doesn’t rank high in the search results?
Related: Why Your Company Needs a Website
While PPC ads and social media advertising are great ways to increase web traffic, it’s also important to find organic ways to get more people to your website.
The answer is SEO.
Benefits of Building an SEO-Optimized Website
Here’s how building an SEO-friendly website can benefit your business:
- SEO increases organic traffic. Over a quarter of searchers click on the first organic result. The second and third get about 15% and 11% of clicks. It drops off quickly from there.
- SEO attracts high-intent traffic. Ranking high gives your website the top-of-mind brand awareness that increases conversions, bringing your more valuable visitors.
- SEO design improves user experience. SEO does more than help attracts visitors to your website — following best practices ensures that everything works well and is easy to navigate so users can find the info they want.
SEO Web Design: 10 Aspects to Optimize
Google uses over 200 factors to rank a website. While it’s nearly impossible to account for all of them, you can start by optimizing these ten aspects to get your pages ranking higher:
Having alt tags (alternative text) for the images on your website is an often overlooked but essential part of website SEO.
Every image on your website needs an alternative text that describes exactly what’s happening in the picture. Alt tags should be complete sentences.
Alt tags also improve your website’s accessibility for people using screen readers, ensuring that even visually impaired visitors can have a great experience on your site.
Image File Names
Most people don’t think of changing their image file names as being a big deal; however, it can be a significant asset to your website’s SEO — you should think twice before naming an image something like generic-header-123.jpg.
Instead, you should include keywords that show Google what to expect when someone sees that image.
For example, if your header image is your company’s logo, name it “business-name”-logo-.jpg. For images of people or items, be as descriptive as you can without using too many words.
If a search engine like Google can easily crawl your website (exploring, reading, and understanding each page’s content), it’s more likely to be considered SEO-friendly. Then, your site has a higher chance of appearing towards the top of the search results.
In order to make your website easily crawlable, each page’s main content should be in HTML text format — it’s the easiest way to help Google understand what the pages are about.
Your metadata — like title tags and meta descriptions on each page — is what appears in Google’s search results. Metadata is arguably one of the most important elements of SEO.
Ensure that your title tags and meta descriptions include the focus keyword of your page or post to improve your SEO even further, and keep your title tags under 60 characters and meta descriptions under 160 characters to follow best practices.
Related: Common Web Design Myths
Designing your website to be mobile-friendly ensures your audience has a seamless experience no matter where they access your site from and also helps improve your SEO.
So, ensure that you or your dev team tests your website both on desktop and mobile — Google’s algorithm prefers sites that are responsive on mobile devices.
Readability is another major ranking factor — if visitors can’t clearly read your website’s copy, Google will determine that they won’t receive anything valuable from your site.
It’s best to use big, clear fonts (typically bold serif or sans serif) throughout your website, its copy blocks, and its headers to make it easy for everyone to read.
Visitors should immediately grasp what your business does and how it can help them. In addition to improving readability, Google notices when you use heading tags in your website structure to identify important areas, further improving your SEO.
Google is smart (we won’t deny that); however, sometimes it’s not a bad idea to give our favorite search engine a helping hand — that’s where sitemaps come in.
A sitemap is a file housing all the pages of your website and its files, images, videos, etc. Sitemaps are necessary for websites with many pages, especially if they aren’t all linked together on your website.
Having a sitemap helps Google find all of your web pages so they’re eligible to rank in the search results.
You should also create your URL structure around your SEO strategy — each URL slug you use should include only the page’s title or focus keyword.
Before launching a new website or new design, it’s important to do keyword research for every page you plan to include. You should do the same whenever you create a new page along the way, too.
This structure helps Google understand the keywords to rank your pages for and helps keep them accessible to your visitors.
Website developers usually focus on a site’s overall feel and look, which contributes to a better user experience. Designers focus on each page’s visual elements and how they expect (and want) visitors to interact with them.
Especially with the majority of people accessing websites from mobile devices, keeping things simple is crucial. And when it comes to SEO, including internal links to your important pages in your website navigation is 100% necessary.
Visitors shouldn’t have to waste any brain power navigating your website — moving from page to page should be seamless using a content hierarchy that makes sense.
Since 2018, Google has factored in website speed when determining which sites rank higher than others. And it makes sense — Google doesn’t show people websites that take a long time to load because people don’t want to deal with long wait times.
Various things can affect your website speed, including:
- Web hosting
- Traffic volume
- File sizes
- Coding and scripts
You can use Google’s free tool to test your website speed on desktop and mobile and get tips to improve it.
The Fine Line Between SEO and Web Design
The key to building a well-designed and SEO-friendly website is bridging the gap between development and SEO.
Web design and SEO shouldn’t be two separate practices — the two should work together to ensure your website is designed with both usability and SEO in mind.
Looking to build a modern website that’s easy to use and designed with SEO in mind? Reach out to our team at E-mod Marketing — a leading web design and digital marketing agency in St. Louis, Missouri.