A vast majority of people believe that search engine optimization is all about keyword-filled articles and appropriate meta descriptions, but they’re undoubtedly wrong. Of course, content is always the core of every good website, but there’s a number of other elements in play here.
In fact, a good web designer can immensely improve the SEO score if he knows what he’s doing.
In this article we will go over the basics, and advanced ways you can improve your SEO with some good website design practices. Chances are that you already know some of the techniques or that you have, at least, heard about them.
If that is the case, you can always use this list as a concise reminder of the ground SEO practices for all your future projects. So here we go.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of content. High-quality articles and a comprehensible copy are the basis for good SEO. However, web crawlers also pay close attention to how your content is structured on the website. It needs to be clearly organized into a logical hierarchy. Not only does it help visitors find the content they want more easily, but it also improves your SEO score because pages get indexed a lot easier.
This is where you should apply the so-called content umbrellas in your design. Steven Willi, a vice president of Rankings.io stresses the importance of creating a good structure from the start. First thing you should do is think about the general theme of your website. What will the website be about?
Once you establish that, you should start creating categories and subtopics, forming an umbrella structure. To Google, this will be a clear sign that your website has a good focus and offers the visitors consistently valuable content.
From a designer’s point of view, umbrellas introduce order and are visually appealing.
When it comes to keywords, a lot has changed over the years. Back in the days of early SEO, one of the main strategies for getting the top place on search engines was to spam with as many keywords in the text as possible and hope for the best. Nowadays, Google’s algorithm is much smarter and doesn’t allow anything that doesn’t come natural on the website.
Sitepoint mentions a couple of crucial places for placing keywords on your website, such as:
– Title Tag – Certainly one of the most important locations for your keyword. If possible, push the actual keyword at the very beginning. Just keep in mind that it has to sound natural.
– URL – Placing keywords in URLs is a great SEO practice but also quite user-friendly because it helps them navigate more easily. Also, always make sure that your URL is fairly short and direct.
– H1 Tag – H1 tag should introduce a new section in your text but it can have the same keywords as long as you use them creatively. Shuffle the order of the words, use colons, etc. Some people believed that Google would penalize you for using too many H1 tags, but those rumors were quite recently denied by Google.
– Body Text – This is something that goes without saying – obviously the main body should include keywords.
– Image Name and Alt Attributes – Including keywords in images is now more important than ever since Google decided to remove the “view image” option and basically forced many of its users to visit the pages.
However, you should also try to be as diverse as possible and include keywords beyond your copy and blogs. You can make the keywords a part of your website design in a number of ways. Add keywords to your navigation bars, breadcrumb trails, footer links, internal links, etc.
And speaking of internal links, did you know that they are actually the best way to defend your website from content scrapers? Namely, there are countless websites out there that steal content from other websites and use it to get SEO ratings. However, one of the best strategies to fight content scrapers is to include a number of internal links that will lead back to your website wherever they are.
Mobile browsing has recently overtaken desktop browsing thus forcing the majority of web designers to shift their priorities. Websites who don’t invest in mobile optimization are losing a lot of traffic and, obviously, that affects their popularity and SEO score. Here are some tips from MOZ that might help you with this chalange.
– Considering the popularity of mobile browsing, create your website first with mobile phones in mind. The difference can be quite astounding.
– Don’t use Flash or pop-ups. A lot of devices don’t support Flash, so they won’t be able to show it. On the other hand, pop-ups are just simply annoying and might lead to a higher bounce rate. As frustrating as they can be on desktop computers, they are almost impossible to get rid off on mobile devices.
– Responsive design is a must since mobile phones and tablets now come in a number of different shapes and sizes.
Another major point to think about when designing a website for mobile devices is the site speed. In July 2018, Google will add it as a new ranking factor for mobile browsing. They’ve named the idea a “Speed Update” and will according to them only affect the pages that offer the slowest user experience. Although it might not be a major ranking factor immediately, it will most likely become in the future.
Websites that contain high-quality videos and images rank better on Google – that’s a fact. They are more appealing to the users and, therefore, more popular in searches. Combined with the right keyword alt tags, they are incredibly valuable SEO elements.c
According to a website appropriately named Viral Video Marketing there are five main reasons why videos are extremely important for SEO.
– First of all, not only is YouTube an authoritative search engine, it is also the second largest search engine in the world, right after the almighty Google.
– Considering how they’re both parts of the same company, a properly optimized YouTube video ranks nicely on Google as well.
– In case you didn’t know, YouTube has the ability to transcribe the content from your videos automatically and use if for searches.
– Videos make your company look more professional and friendly which, increases your conversion rates.
– Videos have a tendency to go viral a lot more than any other type of content and can, therefore, boost your SEO rank in no time.
We’ve mentioned how YouTube automatically transcribes the content from your videos, but a number of great websites also do that themselves. It’s beneficial because it expands your audience and works as a regular SEO-optimized article.
A huge part of your SEO score comes from the way Google’s web crawlers go through your website and its content. Although they’re built to imitate the actions of real users, they need a helping hand now and then. For example, if a visitor needs to submit a form in order to see some content on your website, web crawlers will skip it and it will remain unindexed.
Besides that, you need to make sure the site plan is clear and accessible at all times. Many people think if they add a search box on their website it will make all of their pages visible, but unfortunately, they are mistaken. Web crawlers don’t use search boxes and it’s likely that they’ll miss out on some content due to poor navigation.
Also, according to Hobo Web, you shouldn’t use Frames or iFrames on your website unless you’re extremely proficient at it. Apparently, a lot of users can’t actually read the content in these frames and web crawlers struggle to navigate through them.
Finally, remember to add various social media widgets when designing your website because the power of online communities directly affects your SEO score.
SumAll website states that using social media to promote your website is a new form of link-building. If you create valuable, original content, it will be shared via various social media platforms, making your website seem more credible. Besides that, social media seem to also help your pages get indexed a lot faster. Something as simple as a widget will connect you with your audience and create a much better SEO score.
As you may noticed, most of the elements in web design are connected in one way or another. Your best SEO practice is to include as many of these strategies as possible, creating a meaningful experience for your users. After all, they are the ultimate goal of all your online efforts.