There is no denying the crucial importance of a website. Not only does a well-designed website speak volumes about your professional business acumen, but it also serves as your virtual storefront for hundreds or thousands of visitors a year.
This is evident for both large commercial entities and small businesses. Approximately two-thirds of small businesses have a website, and 58% of the remaining businesses plan to build one in the current year.
The underlying purpose of every website is to garner maximum traction, which reflects in increased conversions and profitability.
Unsurprisingly, that is also the principal motive behind businesses partaking in search engine optimization (SEO) – to benefit from the 93% of all online experiences that begin with an online search.
According to Stefan Muirhead of Ignition72, “You need to layer in best practice web design (accounting for UX and UI), technical capabilities, content and of course, Search Engine Optimization. The most beautiful and capable site means nothing if nobody ever sees it, and in 2019 the way people find new websites is through Google.”
Why SEO Affects Your Web Design
It might be difficult to ascertain the correlation between SEO and web design; why does one have to affect the other?
The connection becomes clear once you delve into Google’s guidelines for what they consider worthy of a higher rank. The Silicon Valley giant is fixated on ensuring user satisfaction – which means if users don’t appreciate your website, Google won’t either.
Achieving higher ranks through trivial keyword stuffing techniques are practices of a bygone era. Today, websites are judged against more than 200 ranking factors to be allocated a top rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
All efforts from Google, be they the mobile-friendly Mobilegeddon or the machine-learning algorithm RankBrain, are targeted to ensure users get trustworthy and valuable answers to their queries.
If you’ve invested in content, but your website lacks in design, you’re still losing out. If your visitors are confused, perplexed, or irritated by your website’s interface, they are not going to stick around.
A low dwell time—the time users stay on your site—and increased bounce rate signals to search engine crawlers that users did not find their answer on your site. This may eventually lead to a drop in rankings and negligible visibility.
Why did a business invest in a website in the first place if they didn’t plan on seeing it through?
The fact of the matter is that the evolution of search engine algorithms has placed the onus on website owners to invest in web development, so that their sites provide quick, applicable, and quality content to users. Web design directly impacts a user’s experience, which directly impacts SEO.
From the structure of your HTML to the amount of Flash your website utilizes – every design feature has the potential to affect your search engine ranking.
Web Design Aspects That Affect SEO
Contrary to the commonly held perception, SEO is not undertaken after a website has been made. SEO begins right at the web development stage to ensure every element is created and simultaneously optimized for user convenience, devoid of any complexity.
This article delves into a few web design aspects that can have a profound impact on your search engine rankings.
Easy To Surf Website Structure
Google heavily emphasizes the importance of positive user experiences when ranking websites. This is why your website’s structure is an important metric for SEO.
Even if your website packs valuable, high-quality content, a complex and confusing structure is going to prevent it from achieving high rank.
An easily-navigable and minimally-designed website facilitates users in comprehending and moving about the site. The increase in dwell time is a major plus point for a website’s SEO, as Google translates this as the site being beneficial for the user.
Page Loading Speed
As a user clicks through on your website, they expect it to open as quickly as possible. In fact, most modern users will only afford websites 2 seconds to load.
If they have to look at a ‘loading’ sign long enough, it turns into a ‘back’ button. The rapid flow of information and immense availability of homogenous supply means users are not tolerant of high loading times, be it on desktops or smartphones.
If you’re still in denial, consider this: According to Google, for every one-second delay in site load time, conversions fall by 12%.
Page loading speed can be worsened by plug-ins, massive image sizes, and a plethora of ads. Adopting a minimalistic approach to disseminating information, coupled with file compressions, can work towards making sure your website loads faster.
A Mobile and Gadget Responsive Design
Nobody likes to zoom in and out when they are searching for an answer. This is why Google rolled out the Mobile First, a.k.a Mobilegeddon, update, which made it a point to analyze websites for their mobile responsiveness, and rank mobile-optimized websites higher.
Devices come in all shapes and sizes, with different screens for every smart phone, tablet, and laptop. A responsive design ensures users easily consume content, without the need to play around with the zoom feature.
With 58% of all search engine traffic being derived from smartphones, it is only rational that Google wants websites optimized for mobile devices. Not only will Google rank your website higher, but the consumer also benefits from an organized layout and stays on your site for longer, further helping you realize your SEO and conversion goals.
Navigation is more than the menu that sits at the top of your website. It is a virtual signpost that signals users to other relevant parts of the website.
A well-structured site means that the navigation will be incorporated with the structure, the URLs, and other components – for instance, XML sitemaps.
The appearance of your website contributes greatly to the user experience. Easier and simpler websites ensure users find what they need easily, and that they stick around longer.
A good navigation design ensures a consistent flow of web pages that don’t take a lot of time to be found – so visitors can easily surf through the website, without being irritated and ‘bouncing off.’
Even search engines navigate your website for web pages and adhere to certain requirements in regards to it. The absence of proper web design from the aspect of navigation can harm your website’s SEO potential.
Websites based on a parallax design, where a complete website is displayed on a single page, seem to have picked up in recent times.
These sites are complemented with innovative menus that jump to specific points on the page. This is further segmented under different headers and taglines.
While this design may be appealing to the eye and an enjoyable task for web designers, it hasn’t scored well in terms of SEO.
There are several reasons for this: crawlers render the website as a single page, and while the website targets multiple keywords, a parallax design makes keyword optimization difficult.
Web design and SEO go hand in hand. If you want your website to rank well, you need SEO – but since Google prioritizes the user experience, your website also needs a clear and effortless layout.
While this article lists some of the major aspects of web design that can impact your website’s SEO potential, there are many indirect components such as Title Tags or Image Optimization that can also affect your SEO efforts.
The pressure on website owners to create platforms that enhance the user experience has been growing for quite some time. However, a non-complex web design guarantees your website appeals to your visitors, as well as Google’s web crawlers.