If you were opening a storefront, would you pay thousands of dollars for branding and merchandising but neglect to put up a sign? Imagine pouring your heart and soul into a store but not doing everything to help anyone find it. This doesn’t make sense, yet new website owners still make the mistake of hiring web designers to create entire sites composed of images and non-optimized content. Then, they bring in a full-service marketing agency to do SEO after the site is finished and it becomes clear that the site isn’t performing well.
To avoid the problem, you need to start with an SEO-friendly website designer. This ensures that the SEO foundation is in place as soon as you launch your new website.
Website Design and SEO: What You Need To Know
People tend to hear the word “design” and think of things like color palettes, graphics, fonts, and layouts. They assume SEO is best left to content writers and developers after the design work is complete. But designers who understand SEO are crucial and often overlooked role.
A site’s performance depends on a multitude of factors, including search rankings. Moving up a spot in search results can improve click-through rates (CTRs) by 30%. The same study shows that the top position performs 10 times better than the number-10 slot.
SEO has the power to get you there, but it needs to be an integral part of the site. While a thoughtful designer will make sure the layout of your website is user friendly, they should also consider technical SEO aspects. If your design team does not incorporate SEO, you might end up needing to rework what you’ve invested so much in creating.
Designing an SEO-Friendly Website
Your site is the face of your business. Design matters — but people need to be able to find it. Here’s how an SEO-friendly website designer can help.
A Comprehensive Keyword Strategy and Competitor Analysis
Choosing the right keywords will ensure that you show up for your target audience. If you use those keywords well, you can rank above your competitors and get more clicks.
Best practices are to have a primary keyword target for each page on your website. Each page should have a unique target keyword and accompanying secondary and tertiary keywords.
You need to understand which pages you want to house those keywords on before you build your site — not after you’ve gone through the design process. Your chosen keywords will affect everything you put on your website, including:
- Image descriptions
- Metadata or the text that describes your site on search results pages
- On-page content
To integrate keywords this way, your design team needs to develop and build out a keyword strategy. It starts with a competitor analysis — finding out what terms your competitors rank for. From there, your team can determine which pages should target those keywords and how each one should appear.
Common SEO Problems in Website Design
When website design doesn’t incorporate SEO, ranking ends up lower than it could be. Consider these common mistakes.
Not Enough Words on the Page
Videos and images matter for the overall aesthetic, but robust and optimized content is vital to your rankings. Each page has to include enough text for Google to consider it valuable to the reader.
A full-service marketing agency is most qualified to solve this problem. Agency professionals know how to find the balance between a clear design and rich written content.
Too many site owners try to target the same keywords across multiple pages. It seems like covering all your bases, but it confuses Google’s crawlers. They can’t tell which page to rank higher, and often they guess wrong. Your target page gets buried under something less relevant.
Again, an agency can eliminate this catch-22. Agency professionals know how to structure a site and choose the right keywords, so each page ranks for the intended audience.
For a page to rank well, images need to do more than just look good. They need to be:
- Compressed to protect bandwidth
- Described with alt text and unique file names
- In the most appropriate format (PNG, JPEG, or WebP)
An SEO-informed designer knows how to optimize images and keep the whole page looking its best.
Site Structure and Navigation
Top-ranking websites are easy for humans and crawlers to navigate. They’re clearly organized into categories that have sub-categories if necessary. The site’s structure must be logical and make sense from a user journey standpoint. Google collects data on usability and relevance and ranks the site accordingly.
A well-designed navigation bar is part of the process, but it goes further than that. There should be call to actions that create a clear path throughout the pages of your site, directing people to what their next destination should be.
For example: If you run a pet services business, you might have separate pages for grooming, training, and pet-sitting. Each one of those pages might have sub-pages for dogs and cats. Your menu would list each sub-page under the appropriate parent page, but you’d also have buttons and navigation aids on each page. You’d want to have clear call to actions leading users to either a “Contact Us” and “Book Appointment” landing pages.
This kind of layout requires a designer that knows SEO — so users and bots have a great experience.
Google determines your site’s ranking by crawling the mobile version first. It’s called mobile-first indexing, and it makes designing for handheld devices more important than ever.
To rank highly, designers need to:
- Check image format , size, and quality
- Ensure content is consistent across devices
- Use the right video format
SEO best practices change frequently, and mobile-first rules are no exception. Optimize your ranking by hiring a designer who’s up to date.