The design of your site plays an important role in determining the success of the site itself. People are now expecting good user experience and fluid design when they visit websites, and failure to deliver upon those expectations will only make viewers leave. In order to retain your audience, you also need to make sure that the design elements are pleasing to the eyes.
On the other hand, there are factors to consider when designing a website. Aside from branding and the key messages you want to convey through the site, you also need to take Search Engine Optimisation or SEO into account. What does it really mean to design for SEO? Let’s find out.
A Targeted Site
Local SEO is a big thing these days. Through local SEO, you can target people in a certain region and reach more potential buyers than ever. Local SEO is especially important when you only cater to a certain market segment (i.e. buyers in Oxford).
There are a lot of ways to do local SEO effectively and it’s often advisable to work with an agency who are local to your target area. To use the example above, if you were in Oxford as an example you would be best served working with a local agency, we found The Evergreen Agency as the no.1 local SEO agency in Oxford. You could work with a company like that to get local insights and reach the right customers.
However, it all begins with designing the site for local SEO.
You can start by adding location information to the footer of the site. This way, that location information appears on every page, allowing Google and other search engines to pick it up as an important element.
Another way to design for local SEO is by adding local information to key pages like the Contact page and the About page. Instead of using an image map, embed a Google Map with the right coordinates. These are small things to do, but they create a big impact nonetheless.
SEO Friendly Images
When designing a site, a lot of visual elements are added to the page to make the site look pleasing. Visual elements – images and animations – are added to complete the way the site looks and feels. While visual elements are important, they are not the best elements to use for SEO purposes.
Search engine crawlers cannot really look into images, videos, and other visual elements. They are limited to reading text content and tags. To make the images friendlier to search engine crawlers, you need to include an ALT tag to each of them.
You will also need to describe the image in a relevant way. You want to include keywords, but not too many of them that crawlers see the images as spam. Moderation is everything in SEO these days, so make sure the image descriptions are effective in every way.
You can also add captions to videos, especially self-hosted videos that you display on your site. Aside from the video description, crawlers also read into the captions for your videos to better understand what they are all about. You’ll get a boost in SEO performance from captions alone.
Today is not the day to have a site that only works in desktop computers. Over 70% of internet traffic originate from mobile devices, making having a mobile-friendly site a necessity rather than an option. In fact, you must start designing your site for mobile users first before constructing a desktop version for it.
There are still two ways to make a site mobile-friendly. You can either use responsive design or have a dedicated mobile version for mobile users. A responsive site is just as effective, but you have to be willing to pay attention to detail when creating a responsive site.
For instance, the size of image files need to be reduced for mobile users. Reducing the file sizes too much, however, will make the images look bad on bigger screens. Designing a responsive site is about finding the right balance between cross-device compatibility and performance.
Don’t Forget Performance
Speaking of performance, designing for SEO also means paying attention to the way the site performs. There is no point in having a beautiful site if it takes more than 10 seconds to load. Users want websites that work, and they want sites that work quickly. Performance is a big part of the equation indeed.
You can optimise images to make them load quickly, removing unused information like colour profile in the process. You can also go a step further and optimise your codes. Combining multiple CSS files and removing unused nodes are great ways to speed things up.
Fortunately, there are tools to help you figure out the right optimisation steps to take. Do a quick scan of your site and you will see the parts of the site that can still be optimised for better performance. Google’s own PageSpeed Insight Tool is a good place to start.
With these optimisations, you will have a website that isn’t just functional and beautiful but optimised for search engines as well. Designing for SEO is not as complicated as you think; use the tips we covered in this article to get started.
Revisit old content
Slightly off-topic and not necessarily about design but go back and re-visit your old website content.
When writing content you should never fit your content to your design – Instead your content should do exactly what it needs to say and be as long or short as required to get your point, benefits and messaging across.
An SEO agency will be able to help you work this into your website. When you re-visit your old content and update it for the latest year then you are adding value to your audience and this is something that Google loves.
Start by going back to your articles that are at least 5 years old, look at the subjects and update the content to bring it up to date for 2019. Add in a few extra hundred words, add in infographics or even a video – whatever adds value and engages people with your content.