Site Maintenance SE Optimization Marrying Web Design and SEO: Key Considerations

Marrying Web Design and SEO: Key Considerations

Good design that is both attractive and functional is clearly vital to the success of any website, especially for businesses. This point is uncontroversial; an eye-catching and user-friendly site will greatly help you to stand apart from your competition. However, great web design takes an even more holistic approach by being constantly aware of its impact on other important aspects. A prime example of this is the impact that design has on SEO. Marrying the two so they work together in a complementary way is crucial to appealing to both humans and search engine algorithms. In other words, the SEO will bring visitors to your site and the design will encourage them to engage. It’s not so much that this approach is disputed – more that it’s overlooked a little too often. Here are a few key aspects to pay attention to.

Mobile Optimization

The importance of optimizing websites for mobile is arguably already common knowledge, at least from a user experience perspective. Nevertheless, it’s worth reiterating here in terms of search engine optimization, not least because SEO is becoming increasingly interlinked with user experience. The reason why mobile optimization is so important is simple: people are using their smartphones to browse the internet much more. Plus, over 50% of Google searches come from mobile devices. The fact is, the better optimized for mobile your site is, the better experience your visitors will have and the higher you’ll rank on Google.

Responsive design

For this reason, use responsive design for your website. It’s not the only option for mobile optimization – you could also create a separate mobile site – and it’s not the undisputed ‘best’ method necessarily. Nevertheless, it’s ultimately the most elegant solution, since it adapts to any size of screen. This way, you don’t require a separate URL as with a mobile site; there are ways to deal with duplicate content issues, but responsive design circumnavigates them completely. Furthermore, responsive design is much easier to achieve these days because it is integrated into most design templates, like these ones for example.

Text vs. Images

The visual appeal of a website is a fundamental part of design but you should be careful when using images to display text. While images are highly effective at communicating your message to users, search engine crawlers do not recognize text contained in images. Over-reliance on images for headers, for example, will negatively affect the optimization of your site, particularly if your images contain important keywords. There is a caveat to this in the sense that you can use “alt attributes” to describe images. This certainly helps, as it allows search engines to recognize what the image is, but HTML text in the body of your web pages is still necessary. Wherever possible, use plain text for your keyword-orientated copy to make it easier for bots to crawl, and supplement this content with images.

Image optimization

On the subject of images, optimizing them will greatly improve the loading time of your site, which is a proven bonus for SEO. There are various factors that contribute to a well-optimized image. In addition to providing an ALT tag, ensure the file name is descriptive (a good opportunity to use a keyword), reduce the file size, and rescale the image. For a more detailed explanation of this, see this guide by Yoast.

No More Flash!

If you are still using a lot of flash elements in your web design, it’s about time to reconsider! The use of flash has already become something of a controversial topic for a various reasons, but it’s also less than ideal for SEO. Similarly to images, search engine bots simply cannot crawl and index flash-based pages effectively. Because this content cannot be crawled, your website will seriously struggle to rank on SERPs. CSS-based web design is not only more search engine-friendly, but it’s also perfectly capable of producing great-looking websites.

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