5 Ways SEO Should Impact Your Website Design

We’re reached a point where website design and search engine optimization are almost indistinguishable. The most beautiful website will matter little if no one can find it. Conversely, even a great SEO strategy will not succeed if visitors are turned away by the website it leads them to.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the two concepts are still separate. SEO is designed to attract members of your target audience to your website, while the design of that website will impact their post-visit attitudes, engagement, and willingness to buy. You cannot have one without the other, and integration is key–but don’t conflate the two concepts. Here are 5 ways your SEO strategy should impact your website design.

1) User Experience Matters

When designing your website, your core goal should be to make it as appealing and engaging to your audience as possible. Gaining a visitor is a great step, but still far removed from turning that visitor into a lead or even a customer. Only a positive user experience, through content that appeals to your audience and an intuitive navigation, can get them closer to that goal.

As it turns out, user experience is just as important for SEO purposes. Dwell time, for example, is a relevant ranking factor for search engines like Google. The more engaged your users are on your website, the more of an impact they will make on your rankings. Google will take a longer dwell time as an indicator of your site’s relevance and credibility.

2) Technical Considerations Are Crucial

Similar to user experience, a wide range of technical consideration matter equally well in SEO and web design, and should be prioritized as a result. The average time it takes your website to load, for example, will result in both higher bounce rate and lower audience satisfaction. The majority of your visitors expect your page to load in 2 seconds or less; if it takes longer than 3, they will begin to abandon it.

As a result, successful SEO depends on web design that keeps page load times in mind. Minimizing image sizes and eliminating unnecessary code are just two of the steps you can take in the course of your design process to ensure that your load time decreases, and your SEO improves. Similarly, your website’s mobile friendliness through responsive design is crucial for SEO in 2016 and beyond, and should be a core consideration of your web design process.

3) Web Design Trends are Not Always SEO-Friendly

Every year, you will see a number of web design trends emerge that reflect the direction that thought and industry leaders consider the practice to take in the near future. These trends may be designed to look your website more beautiful; however, they could negatively impact its search engine optimization.

For example, in the wake of the above-mentioned importance of mobile responsiveness, a number of websites began to incorporate so-called Hamburger menus to streamline the navigation regardless of the design. However, hiding your navigation can lead to significant usability issues, increasing your bounce rate and hurting your SEO in the process.

Awwwards.com points out a number of ‘appealing’ web design trends that could actually be dangerous for your search engine optimization efforts. Front page carousels, parallax scrolling, and an over-reliance of JavaScript can all make your website seem more appealing, while simultaneously hurting your search rankings. To achieve a balance between the two, always keep SEO in mind when implementing new trends.

4) Conversion Starts Before the Visit

A successful search engine optimization strategy is consistent. In other words, you should not design a website and then think about its SEO, which could lead you to end up with inconsistent messaging. A web page optimized for a key phrase like best fashion outlets in San Francisco should actually give your audience relevant information related to that search term, not just promote your brand.

In modern website design, your goal is likely to convert your visitors to leads and customers. But that conversion process starts long before a visitor ever frequents your site; instead, it begins the moment they type in a term or question in their search engine of choice. Optimize your web design to ensure that the moment they first see a search result about your brand, they will begin a consistent journey toward becoming your customer.

5) Content Marketing As an Integration Opportunity

Finally, a website that is optimized for search engine optimization should allow for plenty of content marketing opportunities. Without a doubt, your single most important SEO tool is the ability to create high-quality content around topics that your audience actually cares about. Accomplishing that feat is only possible with a website that gives you the platform to share that content in a straightforward and streamlined way.

In its simplest form, that means integrating a blog into your website design. But you may want to think beyond a blog. Include sign-up pages that lead to more in-depth content, collected on a ‘resources’ portal that allows your audience to pick out the content most relevant to them. You also need to make sure that your content is easy to find throughout your website, which you can accomplish through sidebars, the above-mentioned global navigation, and calls to action.

SEO and website design have become almost indistinguishable. But given their different focuses, it’s still tempting to treat them in isolation. Following the above integration tips allows you to design a website that your audience will not only love, but also be able to find easily. For help in designing a website that both prioritizes your user experience and excels in SEO, contact us.

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Foxtail Marketing is a digital marketing firm that provides content marketing, digital marketing, and lead generation services for small and mid-market companies.

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