You know it to be true, but you can’t quite explain it. SEO and website design seem to be completely different, and yet they are completely intertwined. The truth is, you can’t have one without the other and you need to consider SEO during website design.
SEO is the way to get people to your website. Web design is the way to keep them there. Considering there are so many different factors that can affect a website’s SEO, you can’t build a website without considering SEO. There are too many critical issues that you can make sure to swing your way rather than having to go back and correct them at a much higher cost.
When you understand the underlying principles of each major relationship you can prepare your website and optimization from the very start. Here are 4 reasons to consider SEO during your website design.
Keywords form your website structure
It may seem presumptuous to think that you’re going to need to have a keyword strategy before you build a website, however, the truth is you need to know your keywords in order to structure your content and on-page optimization.
This is especially true for local businesses. Creating your page with the keyword in the URL is a way to create hyper-local content. If the city or location is in your URL, it’s pretty much decided that the content is targeting that specific location.
Using keywords in the initial planning of your pages creates the competitive advantage you need in terms of on-page optimization. If you have an established keyword strategy, you know exactly how to optimize your pages.
A keyword strategy also provides the skeleton for your website. You can create a tentative content strategy that includes your major pillar pages and the blog content that will help support the depth of your website.
The page speed can affect the decision you make in designing your website. Rather than using images that take up large files, choose to create images that load quickly to reduce the time it takes until the first contentful paint.
Page speed plays a big role in the user experience. Many ranking factors are based on the user experience. This makes page speed a big part of your website’s design.
Slow page speed ultimately costs you revenue
Studies have shown that when a page loads slowly, it loses a percentage of its visitors. People are super impatient so when the 3-second mark hits, you’re going to see a larger percentage of your traffic back off of your website.
The number of people that land on your page and back out, divided by the total number that land on your page will give you what’s called the Bounce Rate.
Here is a chart showing the inverse relationship between bounce rate and page speed.
As page speed increases, you lose less visitors on your website. As page speed decreases, more people will leave your site before they even see your content.
Why is page speed an SEO issue?
Rankbrain is Google’s artificial intelligence program that is used to rank websites. Rankbrain bases its decision according to hundreds of ranking factors, some of which are weighted more heavily than others depending on the niche.
In almost every situation, user engagement plays a relatively large role in determining the popularity of a website on the first page of results.
For example, Rankbrain will measure the average length of time that a user spends on a page. If for some reason Page A average 5 minutes while Page B and Page C are both under 2 minutes, Page A will receive a bump towards ranking higher.
This is only one ranking factor among hundreds, but remember that search engines want to feature the best possible results to a query.
It would seem users are really enjoying Page A because they spend the most time on it, so Page A would get the top placement in the search results.
Another user engagement statistic is click-through rate. When Page A is expected to get X amount of clicks in the 4th position in the search results and Page A receives X +30 clicks, Page A may move up in the rank.
If Page B in the third position received X -30 clicks, it would mandate that Page A take Page B’s position in the SERP. Again, these are isolated comparisons because they aren’t deciding factors on their own. They are simply indications of user engagement.
If a user lands on a page that doesn’t have any of the information they want, they will immediately back out and look for another website. This contributes to the bounce rate and search engines will start to note whether most users are landing on the page and doing the same for a specific keyword search.
If every user lands on a page and immediately backs out, the page is obviously not able to answer the users intent for the search. This page will eventually stop being shown to users for that keyword.
Slow page speed contributes to poor user engagement. The more people that seem to back off your page, the more it seems like people don’t like what they’re finding.
Increasing page speed will reduce the bounce rate, and contribute to positive ranking signals. This is why page speed is an SEO issue.
Why is page speed a web design issue?
Page speed is a web design issue because web designers are in control of the scripts and clutter that can impede a page when it’s loading.
Web designers have access to the page from ground zero to make sure that the images aren’t weighing down the server response time.
Web designers can make sure that the images are exactly the dimensions needed to fulfil what’s required for the page to look good.
Publish optimized pages from day one
SEO needs to be incorporated with web design from day one, otherwise there’s double the work being done. Why not ensure the on-page elements are present when the pages are published for the first time?
It’s more costly to pay a web designer to come up with a finished product, only to have an SEO go back and change on-page elements to get to the actual finished product.
It’s already been made apparent how important page speed is and how images can affect page speed. What’s more, is that images can be uploaded with descriptive filenames to enhance on-page optimization. They also need to have the alt tags filled out with where the target keyword is included in the description.
Titles and subtitles with H1-H6 tags and URLs should all include the target keyword or their synonyms. Each item of metadata is important to highlighting the target keyword and improving the on-page optimization for better placement in the search results.
Structured data markup
Schema.org is the language that search engines share to categorize entities. Schema can be implemented using structured data markup. This contributes to a clearer understanding of how to categorize a page and highlights the most important information in the content.
SEO optimized content
Search engines rank web pages based on the content that’s on the page. Many web designers are only concerned with aesthetics and won’t know exactly how to create content that satisfies search intent.
Every page needs content to rank, which is why it’s important to have an SEO professional contributing to the planning phase of building a website. An SEO consultant can identify the underlying search intent and the content required to get the most results.
All websites are now indexed using the mobile version of the website. More than 50% of searches are made using mobile devices, making the demand for a responsive website a very serious issue.
What’s more is if your website doesn’t function well on a mobile device, it’s going to cost you some search visibility depending on where users are searching from.
This is a design issue for obvious reasons. All websites need to alter the layout based on the size of the screen. There are a bunch of different screen sizes to cover so having a good understanding of how to manipulate the navigation and buttons becomes critical.
So critical in fact, that Google has dedicated a page to test your mobile-friendliness. If your website doesn’t pass this test, you can bet you’re seeing a reduction in search visibility on mobile devices.
SEO and web design need to work together
The need for SEO in web design is just as important as the need for web design in SEO. As major search engines look to integrate more user engagement metrics in the ranking algorithm, both aspects of digital marketing become more and more dependent on each other.
To give your website the best chance of driving traffic in the least amount of time, you need to consider SEO in your website design. In order to maintain those rankings, you’ll need to consider your website’s design and how well it engages your audience.
One without the other makes for a broken system. Consider SEO during website design-preferably at the earliest stages of your websites development to save you more money, time and resources.