Recently, we posted an article on our blog about misconceptions people have about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. One of the ideas we discussed was making a website SEO friendly, or in other words, designing a website so search engines can easily analyze its pages to determine pagerank in search results. In this article, we discuss how web design can impact SEO.
SEO friendly web design is one of the most important aspects of creating a website. A badly designed website can have a permanent negative impact on a website’s ability to rank well in search results. Below we discuss 5 web design best practices that positively impact a website’s SEO potential.
A website without an SEO friendly site structure will make it difficult for search engines to scan and index its web pages. A badly designed website can also block effective implementation of SEO initiatives. An SEO friendly site structure will always include, best practices, such as,
Universal as well as page specific navigation, including pathways into and out of all web pages
Consistent page and section titles, i.e. headings and subheadings
Hierarchical page layouts with content and graphical elements positioned according to their relative importance on the page
Keep in mind that from a human user perspective, a user friendly website is easy to navigate, find information, and remain well oriented until a specific goal is completed. A general rule of thumb is that if a human visitor finds a website difficult to understand and navigate, so will search engines.
Textual content on a website can be associated with HTML tags, such as HTML headings. HTML headings define the function of content as well as how a piece of content relates to other content. For example, main text headings, such as a page title, are often tagged as H1 (or Heading 1), with sub headers tagged in descending order of importance as H2, H3, or H4.
Search engines read HTML heading tags to glean meaning from a web page beyond the text visible to the end user. For example, search engines interprete text tagged H1 as the most important heading on the page. Text tagged as H2, will be seen as secondary in importance, but related to the text tagged H1.
Without HTML headings appropriately defined, search engines will not understand the meaning of a web page and either display it in search results inaccurately or not at all.
A URL is the address of each of the web pages on a website, such as www.examplecompany.com/contact-us. Such URL would link a website visitor to the contact page for a business called “Example Company”. Search engines prefer URLs that human beings can read and interpret, as opposed to URLs composed of numbers or ambiguous letters and symbols. Examples of SEO unfriendly URLs include:
Neither humans nor search engines will find such URLs useful and will downgrade the value of the web page accordingly.
Page Load Time
Slow page loads are a problem for search engines as well as human visitors. For example, slow loading web pages are harder for search engines to scan and index. Page load time can be affected by many factors, including the amount of content on a web page and the size of images and graphical elements. Other factors include the number of server requests required to load a page or whether page load time is optimized via compression or caching during delivery to a web browser.
Google has indicated that page load time is part of its determination of pagerank, i.e. how high in search results Google is willing to list a web page.
On April 21, 2015, Google included mobile-friendliness in its determination of pagerank. This addition means that when searched via a mobile device, a web page that displays optimally on mobile devices will rank higher for mobile friendliness than a similar desktop only web page.
While mobile support has quickly become a standard in modern web design, many websites designed in an earlier era need to be retrofitted to pass Google’s mobile friendly test.
If you are interested in finding out more about best practices for designing an SEO friendly website, contact Avatar New York today.
Avatar New York is an innovating, award-winning web design New York firm dedicated to providing clients with responsive websites that help grow brands and convert visitors to customers. With an expertise in web development, branding, cloud hosting, mobile app development, and CMS and e-commerce solutions.