We love creating beautiful websites that help our clients communicate with their customers. However, a great website needs to be more than just nice to look at. Our team uses SEO-friendly web design to make sure potential customers can find our clients’ websites on Google and other search engines.
When we start building (or rebuilding) a website, our design team focuses on these three must-haves for an SEO-friendly website.
1. Website Structure
Well-organized website and URL hierarchies help both customers and search engines understand what a website is about. Starting with a clearly outlined site structure makes it easier to create a straightforward URL structure. We work with our clients to audit their current website and figure out the best way to organize their web pages and URLs. To sort and visualize this information (especially during big redesigns), we use spreadsheets and GlooMaps. Ideally, URLs will clearly describe the contents of a page, rather than using random numbers and letters.
After creating a clear structure, we build user-friendly navigation that makes it easy for site visitors to find what they’re looking for. Linking to important pages within the site from the navigation also helps search engines understand where these pages fit into the structure of the site. Internal links should also be incorporated throughout the site. A well-planned internal linking strategy encourages search engines to crawl important pages and leads visitors through the customer journey.
2. User Experience
We use web design to delight users, which keeps them navigating through your website—instead of “bouncing” back to the search results. Signals from users, like bounce rate, time on site and click through rate, already play a role in SEO. In 2021, user experience will be an even more important ranking factor.
The first piece of an excellent user experience is a website that loads quickly. When visitors arrive on your website, they should see a design reflective of your brand that reassures them they’re in the right spot. We also use design elements like eye-catching CTAs and easy-to-use forms to guide users through the customer journey when designing for SEO.
A site visitor’s journey should make sense no matter what device they’re using. To make sure our clients’ websites are accessible for search engines and users on smaller screens, we use responsive design. This means that as a screen decreases in size, the design elements shift in response. This way, mobile site visitors can find the same information as desktop users in a way that makes sense for palm-sized screens. We also take into account how people are navigating on their mobile devices. Menus and buttons need to be big enough to “click” with a thumb, rather than a mouse.
3. SEO-Friendly Content
SEO-friendly web design starts with a well-organized site. Structure is also essential on each individual web page. Our designers build with a hierarchy in mind. The most important information should be the easiest to find, for both search engines and customers. This means designing a layout that prioritizes heading structure and how content is organized. Using clear headlines and small chunks of text (rather than one big block) helps visitors scan the page to find what they need.
However, this isn’t permission to have lots of pages with a paragraph or two each. Minimize the number of pages on your website by grouping related content where it makes sense. You’ll make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for and less likely that your website falls victim to keyword cannibalization. Web design and development teams have a pretty big SEO incentive for creating pages that give users exactly what they’re looking for. If a website’s pages are helpful, they’re more likely to be linked to!