As website designers, it is known that website design is about elevating bland information on a screen into something enticing and easily recognizable. It’s also about communicating an idea with others about what your business has to offer. So what happens when the message you’re trying to communicate to others must first pass through the eyes of a robot? The robot cannot compute the value of aesthetics. It can only operate off of its limited algorithm.
This is precisely why many website designers have given up trying to please the robot called SEO, but accomplishing this feat is not impossible. We just need to understand what the search engine’s are looking for, while still providing a great user experience– which also plays into SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the strategy of developing and improving your website so that it ranks highly on search engines result pages, preferably on the first page of results. We know at least 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page on Google. With that said, we must make it to the first page in order to be considered by the vast majority of searchers.
Why is SEO Important for Website Designers?
Because it’s very important to your clients. According to research, over 571 websites are created every second. Every second. With all of those websites, your own has the high probability of being lost past Page 1 of Google.
Top 8 Best Practices
Let’s take a look at the top 8 best SEO practices for website designers.
1. Site Structure
When it comes to SEO, the structure of your website is one of the most important factors. Site structure is all about how your web pages link together. Search engine crawlers judge your site’s value based on the way it’s set up. File hierarchy and site maps play crucial roles in whether or not you get a high ranking page.
If you want to be found by the majority of visitors searching for your associated keyword, nothing will get you there and keep your there faster than a logical layout that’s easy to crawl. Remember, if the robots are happy, everyone’s happy.
As a basic rule-of-thumb for SEO, don’t allow radical or isolated pages on your site without links. As a healthy website goes, all of your pages should be connected and functional. It should also flow logically and efficiently.
2. Easy Navigation
Along with logical flow, navigation must be a top priority for any web designer who’s interested in SEO. For navigation, shallow is better. With a shallow architecture, users are able to access any page in as few links as possible. This also refers back to site architecture.
When it comes to navigation, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Make it simple, make it short (e.g. eight options or less), and make is usable.
3. Meta Description
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you’re definitely aware of what it is. A meta description is the little snippet on the search page that provides an overview for what your page is about. Each page on your website will have a meta description. These descriptions are 160 characters or less.
The meta description is your perfect opportunity to entice visitors to click your link. It’s also a good way to get noticed for your keyword, because Google scans and highlights user-searched keywords in your meta description.
Keep in mind that it may not be necessary to write a meta description for each page on your site — just the most important ones. Make sure that you don’t duplicate your meta descriptions for multiple pages. If you haven’t written your own meta description, Google writes one for you.
It’s no lie that content is increasing in importance. These days, robots are smart enough to know what sounds right. Search engines reward longer posts. If you have a blog (which is strongly recommended), it’s important to take the time to craft content that will bring value to your site.
5. Optimized Images
When you don’t take the time to name your images, you’re losing valuable SEO. It’s a good way to maximize your keywords. Another important way to optimize your images is by including Alt Tags. These tags show up on the browser when an image can’t load. It can also appear when you hover over the image.
6. Optimized URL
Make sure that you’re optimizing your URLs with hyphenated keywords. Keep in mind what your target keywords are, and use that in the title of your blog post, as well as in your blog post URL. It’s another way to optimize your site for search engines.
Also, avoid joining all the words together. And, avoid underscores (_). Instead, separate the words using hyphens (-). For example: www.companyname.com/products/this-is-a-widget.
7. Absolute URLs for Internal Linking
This practice is simple, yet very powerful. There are two types of links:
- Absolute, ex. <a href= “www.yoursite.com”>
- Relative, ex. <a href= “/home.html”>
If you’re using relative linking, consider this: absolute links cut down on confusion and reduces server response time.
8. Site Speed
Research shows that 40% of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. That’s the time it took for you to read this sentence. I know that you want to impress users with your designs, but if almost half of new visitors don’t stick around to see it, does it even matter?
Slow speed also negatively impacts SEO. Since 2010, Google has explicitly admitted that loading speed is one of the top ways they determine your page ranking.
When designing your website, SEO should be a top priority. If you don’t prioritize or focus on SEO, your website and company risk losing any new potential visitors or customers. There’s a lot to consider for a website rather than just it’s design. It’s time to optimize your SEO.