For many businesses, SEO is an afterthought, put on hold to make way for stunning website design and unique content creation. But failing to incorporate SEO practices from the very beginning can mean double the work (and cost) later.
This post will explore how an SEO approach to web design can benefit your marketing efforts from the design stage onwards.
Let’s take a look.
What does an SEO web designer do?
Most web designers are only focused on creating a beautiful looking website (hopefully) that functions as you would expect it to. However, just because a website is visually appealing, it doesn’t mean it will rank well. In the current digital marketing landscape, website design must go far beyond the visual.
A web designer who implements SEO as part of the design process will involve your marketing strategy from the beginning. Your SEO designer will take on all of the design work that a typical web designer does, but they will also be able to rank your business pages sooner, create a website that runs faster and ensure that the entire platform is easy to navigate for both customers and web crawlers – with all of your content built in and optimised for search.
Developing your SEO-friendly website
The main goal of SEO Web Design is to develop and design websites that are search engine friendly so that the most relevant and valuable web pages can be delivered to searchers.
The better your SEO strategies and the more integrated your SEO and web design team, the higher the likelihood your business website has of being indexed and ranked on the first page of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page)
But, what does an SEO designed website look like?
Some features of an SEO designed website
When a web designer builds a site for SEO, it should feature (at the very least):
1. Optimised URLs
A URL (uniform resource locator) is a web address that is displayed in your web browser’s address bar. These addresses are best kept organised and neat, containing your keywords for easy indexing.
Here is an example of a complicated URL:
http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Browse/ID72/14418875/ c_1/1%7Ccategory_root%7CGarden+and+DIY%7C14418702/c_2/2%7 Ccat_14418702%7CBarbecues%7C14418875.htm
and a simple one:
Your SEO designer will set up your site with tidy URLs made easier for sharing and also containing your keywords.
Additionally, they should set up your domain with an SSL certificate, listing your domain as HTTPS.
Setting your domain to HTTPS is one of Google’s ranking factors and is an expected layer of security on all websites. In fact, in July 2018 all sites listed as HTTP will be marked ‘not secure’ which not only impacts rank but may also deter visitors from your website.
2. An organised crawl structure
A link structure that lets crawlers travel the pathways of your website is vital for search engines to navigate and index all of your pages. Links from other websites relevant to yours are also indicators to Google that your content demonstrates authority and can be trusted.
Your SEO designer will create in internal linking structure between your pages as well as with relevant external links to make it easier for search engines to navigate through your site and index your pages as easily as possible.
3. Quick load times
Website load time became a Google ranking factor back in 2010. Don’t let your rankings suffer because your site is overloaded with plugins and unnecessary code that slows it down.
Your SEO designer will create a website that performs at optimum speeds without limiting any necessary tools or plugins. Your business can run as needed without making your customers wait for your content to load.
4. Defined heading tags
When you lay out your content on a page, using the correct header tags is a great way to separate topics and clearly present your written content.
But, did you also know that search engines crawl your headers to decide what your content is about?
Your SEO designer will ensure your H1 tag is optimised to its maximum potential with your keywords, as well as structuring the rest of your content with the remaining header tags (H1 to H6).
Here’s what a properly structured page might look like:
<H1> How to use Header tags correctly</H1>
Under this header your designer would place the introduction for your blog post or page about header tags.
Here they might introduce the first main point.
<H2> What is a header tag?</H2>
Here they would break down what a header tag is, and maybe outline a list if the different header tags that exist:
If you wanted to explore those in more depth, you might create more subheadings here:
<H3>How to use the H1 Tag </H3>
And discuss it a little
<H3> How to use the H2 tag </H3>
And discuss that a little.
And so on and so forth with the remaining header tags.
If you look closely at this blog post, you will see that it is laid out exactly like this.
5. One topic per page
Your SEO designer will also make sure that your website pages only cover one topic at a time. If your business offers a variety of products and services, these will each have their own page. This way you can target your keywords for these services specifically and capture those searchers who are looking for them. Trying to tackle too many topics on one page is confusing for readers and impossible for ranking.
Your SEO designer will recommend you use your homepage or services overview page to highlight these different services and link to their corresponding pages rather than trying to cover everything at once.
6. A clean navigation structure
Making sure your website’s navigation structure is clean and easy to use won’t only benefit your rankings but is also vital for user experience. There is nothing more frustrating than looking for something on a website and getting lost. Your SEO designer will also make this a priority.
7. A responsive design for use across devices
As mobile search is set to become the number one platform for Google searches, access to content on devices other than our computers has never been more important.
While Google is busy rolling out the mobile first index, your SEO designer will be making sure that your content is responsive and easily viewed on all other devices from the very beginning.
When you look at the sitemap for your website, both a visitor and a search engine should be able to get a clear idea of what your pages are about before they ever see them. This is the main focus of your SEO designer.
Your SEO and marketing team can then build from this solid structure by creating optimised content that continues to improve your site’s rankings.
SEO is so critical in the design stage. By integrating these two functions, your web pages will soon be attracting more visitors, seeing your business succeed faster online.