It’s still common practice for website design and search engine optimisation (SEO) to be treated as two separate projects, often run by different teams; anyone in IT, Design or Marketing. As an expert in both web design and SEO, I really struggle with this. To be honest, I can’t believe companies are willing to invest in either of these areas without understanding them and if they understood them, they would instantly ‘get’ that it not only makes sense for them to form one project but it’s actually vital to the success of both. Doing them separately comes with heaps of issues including lower-rankings, delayed timelines and unnecessary fees, to name a few.
At Mr Digital, we always advise our Clients who are looking to invest in one of these areas, to consider investing in both. In return; maximum results and long-term cost saving. And this has proven to be very successful.
Now let me share with you, 3 SEO tips for web designers – what should web designers be considering and how does it impact SEO?
Firstly, let’s take a look at the usability of a website.
1 – Usability
The customer journey once a user lands on your site is what will determine whether or not they have confidence in your brand and ultimately purchase with you. You may wonder how this impacts SEO, well, the more time the user spends on your site and how they interact with it will impact ‘time spent on a page/site’, and your users will need to enjoy your site for them to want to share your content on social media or link to your site; impacting ‘social signals’ and ‘inbound links’. Then, of course, there is also the usability of the site across different devices; mobile, tablet and desktop. Google promotes mobile-optimised sites higher in the search engines for mobile searches than sites that are not optimised for mobiles so having a responsive website is now the only way forwards!
Now, you’ve probably heard the saying “content is king” by now and that is true and has been the case for many years so I’ve got 2 top tips for web designers when it comes to content. Let me start with…
2 – Content discovery
Web designers can build a beautifully designed website but what good is it if it can’t be found?! To ensure your content will be discovered, crawled and indexed by Google and the other search engines, you need to prioritise the content in terms of what is most important; not just for you and your business but for your audience too. And how do you prioritise your content? This is done when looking at the ‘site architecture’ and working out how each piece of content will link to each other. After all, links are the route to content discovery for the search engines. Working out your sitemap upfront is always a good idea, then submit the finished sitemap to Google when you go live, which effectively gives Google a map to navigate your site and find your content.
One final consideration for content discovery, which applies particularly to website redesigns, is ‘broken links’. Google will penalise you for any broken links you have; old pages, new URLS, change of domain, etc…It is your responsibility to make sure Google and the other search engines are aware of any changes you make and ‘301 redirects’ for any changes to URLs are an essential part of an SEO strategy so your designer needs to bear this mind and make sure your SEO team are aware of any design changes that will impact the URLs of any pages.
Finally for one of the most important SEO ranking factors, and one that web designers often think has nothing to do with them…
3 – Content quality
The quality of the content is the secret to success when launching a website (providing you’ve nailed the usability and your content is discoverable of course). Just think, Google’s objective is to provide relevant quality content to its users after they search for certain keywords. If you invest in creating regular quality content that’s themed around your targeted keywords, then you and Google are both working towards the same goal and you will eventually meet, resulting in high rankings for your website, for your chosen keywords.
Ok, so I know you’re probably thinking, ‘I get the importance of quality content but where does my web designer come in?’. Basically, in order to create quality content, you need to have considered this at the design stage so you can prioritise your content, make sure it’s discoverable and user-friendly and have an objective in mind for that content; what’s the purpose of this content section? What’s the call-to-action (CTA) for this page template? Without considering this upfront, you will end up with a site that ‘bolts on’ quality content afterwards and your users will struggle to find it and it won’t meet its objective effectively
As I said at the very beginning of this article, it’s common for many companies to treat the two completely separately and this is purely down to a lack of understanding. I hope you can see from this article the importance of website design in SEO. Having the two work together will only work for you!