5 SEO Tips For Web Designers

A solid website is a brand’s identity in the online world, speaking to your credibility and reputation. Its design engages visitors, provides personalized user experiences, and converts them into leads — but to do that, the site needs to first capture traffic from search results. A basic understanding of SEO for web design is essential from the earliest stages of any design or redesign project.

5 Things You Should Know About SEO for Web Design

SEO and web design go hand in hand. Design impacts how visitors perceive your brand. It conveys your brand image and messaging, and inspires visitors to take desired actions. SEO, on the other hand, increases your site’s exposure and gives it the opportunity to get discovered by the right people.

To get the most out of website performance on Google and other search engines, let’s break down exactly what designers need to know about SEO for web design.

photo of a nameplate with the words SEO and web design on it

Google indexes a website’s mobile version

Statistics show that more than 57% of all online traffic in the US comes via mobile devices, and 52% of total searches worldwide.

To meet the rising needs of mobile users, Google rolled out the Mobile-First Index in 2018. This means that it now reviews the mobile version of a website when indexing and ranking it, and displays the mobile version in search results.

From an SEO point of view, your site’s responsiveness to mobile devices may impact your performance on Google in multiple ways.

Responsive web design creates a fluid user experience, meaning that your site’s content adapts to different screens and devices. It’s all about usability, which is a critical component in many of Google’s 200+ ranking factors. This requires designers consistently focus their approach on designing sites that deliver smooth, fast user experiences across multiple devices.

Observe your audience’s behaviour and preferences through Google Analytics. You need to know what devices they usually use, what kind of content they interact with, and how they consume different types of content. This is the only way to create a fully responsive site that meets their needs and expectations.

Understanding search intent is key to SEO success

When it comes to your SEO strategy, keywords are vital. They represent topics and ideas around which your content is created. However, the way we optimize our content for keywords has changed. Search engines no longer focus on exact-match search phrases. Instead, they try to understand the intent behind each search query — and what kind of search results they expect to see.

There are several types of user intent. If someone is seeking information, their queries are usually conversational. Others will look for a business location, wanting to visit a physical store or restaurant. People also search for guidelines on how to do something, or where to make a specific online purchase.

illustration showing 5 people looking at their mobile phones

A marketer’s goal is to match each keyword with the right user intent and optimize pages, driving qualified website traffic that is likely to convert. Web design for SEO should also address these multiple stages of user intent.

Use Google Search Console and other keyword data to analyze the search terms most often leading to your site, and thus the most common intentions of your visitors. Your site design needs to be user-friendly and intuitive, providing quality content and experiences at every stage of a customer’s journey directly in line with their intent upon landing there.

This will yield better user experience metrics such as bounce rate and dwell time, and stronger rankings.

There are numerous tools you can use to understand user intent. Learn all about it: How to Use Search Intent to Guide Your SEO Strategy.

Site structure impacts organic clicks and rankings

One of the most significant aspects of SEO for web design is on-page SEO, which is a quick win because it’s simple for almost anyone to do without technical knowledge or tools — especially in WordPress websites.

Title tags

An HTML title tag is the first thing a user sees in the SERPs, and how they instantly identify if your site matches their intent. This is why you need to optimize it strategically. Overly optimized title tags stuffed with a bunch of keywords don’t work for search engines or your audience.

To get the most out of title tags, you should:

  • Add keywords at the beginning of a title tag
  • Keep a tag short, about 50-60 characters
  • Insert keywords naturally
  • Utilize dividers to separate elements, such as locations or categories
  • Use the same title tag optimization tactic across the entire site

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are incredibly important, as they tell your audience in more detail what your page is about and entice them to click. To win a click, a meta description needs to be highly informative, concise, and well-written. You should include your keywords where relevant, but make sure they don’t harm the overall readability of your meta descriptions. Spamming these elements would not only hurt your rankings, but also discourage users from clicking on your link.

Heading tags

Heading tags help you build a solid page structure and create a hierarchy of information. When paired with optimized title tags, meta descriptions, and the content itself, your heading tags make your content easier to follow and more logical. Above all, they allow search engines to effortlessly categorize and index content.

Properly using heading tags is important to your SEO efforts. H1 is the most important header on the page. It should be optimized for your major keywords and used only once. Additionally, use H2 and H3 tags to break up larger chunks of text into smaller units and make them easier to follow.

Illustration showing a person designing a web page layout with pencil in front of a laptop screen

Page content

In SEO for web design, you need to make sure your content is user-friendly and readable as well as thoroughly optimized.

Your website navigation, URLs, title tags, headers, and meta descriptions inform users and search engines about the context of your page. If they like their first glimpses through these elements, they will click on your link and read through your piece of content.

Old-school practices like overt keyword density or exact-match keywords no longer work. You need to optimize for keywords organically. Target long-tail and conversational phrases that match the context, look for their synonyms, and insert them organically. Remember, you’re writing content for people, not for Google’s bots.

Optimizing images for speed and accessibility

Optimizing images and videos you design for your website plays a fundamental role in your SEO strategy, especially for bloggers and online retailers. This is a great opportunity to drive more traffic to their site and increase their online visibility.

  • Choose the right format for your images. For example, JPEG is a good option for photos of people, things, and places, while PNG is effective for transparent photo backgrounds.
  • Reduce your image size. Large files can cause slow page loads, and Google’s latest algorithm update puts prioritizes speed. Your goal is to compress visual content while ensuring its resolution and quality remain unharmed. There are many image compression tools like Kraken or Image Optim to accomplish this.
  • Optimize your images for organic search. Google can’t understand images as it does copy. Instead, it reads file names and ALT tags, which it’s your job to optimize. Alt tags are read to visually impaired users using screen readers to better understand an on-page image, according to Moz. They should be concise and describe the image itself, not the content around it. YOAST has a great article on optimizing images.

Long-form content dominates online marketing

In the past, creating 700-word articles usually worked to earn higher rankings. This is what we considered long-form content.

However, the times have changed.

Brief and generic articles don’t bring any value to your target audience. They expect you to provide highly interactive and personalized content that educates them, informs them, and helps them solve their problems. And, logically, you cannot create a highly insightful and data-backed narrative in less than 1000 words. Statistics show that the best performing content has over 3000 words.

Got content creation anxiety? Get 13 Tips to Improve Your Copywriting for Better Search Rankings.

A designer’s task is to make such lengthy content easier to follow, and keep people engaged from beginning to end. Here are tips to help:

  • Leave lots of white space, as it makes your massive content easily scannable and pleasant to the eye
  • Insert interactive, visual content to break the text up into smaller sections and engage users
  • Use headings, bullets, and numbers to make content easier to follow
  • Choose a legible font and use it consistently to increase user satisfaction
  • Invest in intuitive scrolling that helps people find the desired information faster
  • Include social sharing buttons to make your content easier to share online

 

These are some of the many aspects of SEO that are beneficial for web designers to learn and implement at every stage of a web design project.

 

 

Raul Harman is the editor in chief at Technivorz blog. He has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can chat with Raul about all things digital marketing on Twitter.