SEO Web Design: How it Impacts Ranking
It is essential to get SEO web design right for your site to stand a chance of ranking on Google and other search engines. In order to convince Google that your page is the one its users want to see, factors like accessibility and navigability need to be baked into your website’s DNA.
By following a few simple steps, you can build a site that will not only delight your audience but will, over time, steer more and more traffic in your direction.
What is SEO and Why Does It Matter?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practices used to improve a website’s ability to rank on a search engine results page (SERP) for a given search term. Having a better web design that takes SEO best practices into account means a site or page will have a better chance of ranking higher on search results. Since Google accounts for roughly 92% of all search engine traffic, SEO effectively revolves around understanding how Google ranks pages. The objective is typically to use this knowledge about the ranking algorithm to appear on the first page of results for a given Google search.
Google uses crawlers (small computer programs that automatically follow hyperlinks between web pages) to index data on an estimated 30–50 billion web pages. Google indexes these results and combines them with user behavior data to establish which sites provide the best user experience for a given search term. It then ranks results in the order that it thinks its users will find the most useful.
A clearly-defined and well-executed SEO web design strategy is important because it gives businesses control over how their sites appear in search results and makes it easier to scale over time, ultimately increasing the number of high-intent visitors they receive.
SEO Design Best Practices
Keyword inclusion is one of the top considerations in SEO web design, but one that is often overlooked. Brand teams, for example, often prioritize on-brand messaging over search engine-friendly wording. While some pages on a site have more flexibility than others, main pages (such as the home page, product page, or main services page) need to have focus keywords in ideal locations, like headers and metadata, to stand a chance of ranking well.
Accessibility is another important component of SEO web design, especially for larger sites. WCAG guidelines explain how to make content accessible for people with disabilities. Design elements like contrast and font size, technical elements like viewport compatibility and input methods, and SEO elements like alternative text and understandable content are all important aspects of accessibility. Making your page available to every type of person is crucial and Google will reward sites with better accessibility.
Additionally, faster site speed, adding CTAs (or Calls to Action), and balanced content (containing a mixture of text and visuals) will all improve your site’s SEO performance.
Web Design Mistakes
A common mistake when it comes to SEO web design is failing to organize URLs in a clear nesting pattern with a logical hierarchy. Google is sensitive to how easy a website is to navigate, and untidy URL nesting will impact a site’s usability.
Some practical steps to follow to avoid this mistake are:
- Decide which categories you want in your navigation menu. These will become your main nesting themes.
- Split up the other pages you want to create among those categories.
- Add that main category as a /nesting/ in the URL. (Ex: https://www.mywebsite.com/first-category/)
- Append the pages in that category using that nesting pattern. (Ex: https://www.mywebsite.com/first-category/my-page/)
Inconsistency with the trailing slash—the forward slash at the end of a URL—is also a mistake, as it can lead to 404 errors in internal links. The best practice is to decide on a single approach—trailing slash or no trailing slash—and set up 301 redirects for the other approach to take users to the correct address. That way, users who visit ‘https://www.mywebsite.com’ rather than ‘https://www.mywebsite.com/’ won’t receive 404 errors, even if you make a mistake when setting a new link. Users also typically won’t pay attention to small details like that when typing in your site address – help them out!
Creating Top-Notch SEO Web Design
While the nature of SEO is such that more can always be done, following these steps will give your website the best possible foundation for success.
Settle on Branding Early
Dedicate time to decide on your branding, and how you want to present your brand. Getting this aligned early on will help you rank in the SERPs quickly, and save lots of time further down the line.
Identify Target Keywords
What are the most important keywords you want to appear in the SERPs for? Use SEO keyword research tools to identify those that are most integral to your product or business offering, and ensure that these are front and center on your homepage and other main pages.
Identify Nesting Words
Decide on nesting words, also known as secondary keywords. These words should align with the target keywords you’ve already settled on.
Balance Your Webpages
Build out your web page ecosystem so that it’s balanced and covers all the main bases. If you have too many pages focused on the same keywords (aka keyword cannibalism), or too many pages with too few keywords, it can hurt your chances of ranking.
Include the Basics
Remember, Patience is Key
Don’t expect results overnight. It takes time to start ranking once an SEO strategy has been put into place. Factors like backlinks and domain authority have a large influence over where you rank, but they take time to build.
Patience is key with SEO, but we’re not telling you to sit back and meditate until you find the meaning of life. If the strategy doesn’t work after 6-9 months, then you should make changes. But re-optimizing for a new keyword every few weeks is counter-productive—remember, in a lot of cases SEO follows the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. If the foundations of your SEO web design are sound, you should start seeing exponential improvements over a period of months.
SEO Web Design is Important
In order to attract a high-intent audience, websites need to be discoverable. Because of Google’s internet dominance, websites need to adhere to Google’s best practices to rank in the SERPs. As marketers, we are in the business of bringing a smile to the ever-picky Google.
This means that sites need to be built with SEO web design principles from start to finish. Following best practices from the outset will equip your site with everything it needs to thrive. Finally, remember to be patient: the results may seem slow at first, but in true Colorado fashion, they will snowball over time (especially if you use Booyah for all your SEO needs).