Businesses often believe that websites must appeal to everyone in their audience to serve their customers. This goal is unattainable – every visitor and member of your audience experiences your website differently. You can’t optimize your content to appeal to everyone all the time. Certain factors are out of your control. However, you can improve the overall user experience by refining particular elements to follow the basic SEO rules in web design.
Does Web Design Affect SEO?
The short answer is: yes. The long answer is that various aspects of your website’s design affect your search rank differently.
A positive user experience is the number one priority. However, we’ve learned that user experience isn’t a set formula. This ambiguity makes optimization challenging. Conversely, SEO offers objective parameters for web designers and developers to ensure seamless page navigation.
The Importance of SEO-Friendly Web Design
Abby, our SEO expert here at Forge Apollo, offers her advice regarding accessible website design:
“The goal of both SEO and accessibility is to make sure that [all] readers can access quality information on your website. To understand that information, search engines and assistive technology both need to be able to read your content.”
A website that lacks an SEO-friendly design won’t rank well in search engine results. If your website doesn’t appear in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), people won’t visit it. Viewers will bounce if your business appears in the results without an optimized design. Ultimately, unoptimized web design prevents you from acquiring new customers and securing leads. As a business owner, you should spend your money on an accessible, SEO-friendly website that provides value to search engines and users.
Common SEO Web Design Mistakes to Avoid
Is your website not ranking well? Have you noticed a drop in organic traffic? Is your bounce rate off the charts? If so, it’s likely your website contains SEO web design mistakes. These mistakes can cost you potential customers and make your website invisible to search engines. Our Philadelphia website designers can help you avoid these common mistakes with an SEO website design.
1. Unresponsive Design
Improve usability by implementing responsive design for your website. The majority of web browsing (nearly 60% as of August 2022) takes place on a mobile device. Additionally, Google prioritizes mobile design by crawling the mobile side of a website first. These are two of the best reasons for making your website mobile-friendly. Optimizing your website for all devices ensures that readers (both human and search engine) can access all page elements no matter what device they’re using.
2. Insufficient Copy or Content
Your website isn’t a billboard nor a novel. Web pages need just the right amount of copy and imagery to provide value. Lack of content leaves questions unanswered, while too much content confuses and loses the reader. Viewers are more likely to bounce when excessive content causes infinite scrolling. The page should be informational while cutting straight to the point. Use your words, but use them wisely – and be sure to supplement them with high-quality imagery and video.
3. Slow Website Speed
When a user visits a website and it takes too long to load, it typically results in the user clicking back and visiting a different website instead. Search engines understand this frustration which is why website speed is one of the top criteria taken into consideration for organic rankings.
If you’re not sure how fast your website loads, check your website speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If your website rates below 70 on desktop and/or mobile, it’s a clear sign that your website needs help.
Slow website speed is usually a result of many factors:
- Large image and video files
- Too many plugins (including page builders)
- Slow hosting servers
- Unnecessary code
- Poorly written code
- And much more
At Forge Apollo, we develop websites with speed in mind first. Not only do we use best practices for website speed, but we will continually make adjustments to improve performance as part of an ongoing website maintenance retainer.
4. Misuse of Header Tags
At the bare minimum, content writers must use keywords in header tags. Appropriate use of keywords in headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) can better your search rank because that content appears more relevant to search engines. Additionally, use appropriate headers to lead a reader’s eyes where you want them to go.
5. Poorly Written Alt Text and File Names
Poorly written or missing alt text and file names is a common SEO web design mistake. Proper alt text and file names are simple parts of on-page SEO that website designers often overlook.
Alt (alternative) text is a media file’s text attribution. Sometimes the browser can’t render a photo or video due to device or user disability. As such, alt text specifies the media file’s appearance and features. The more descriptive the text, the better. When alt text is missing, it hurts your website rankings and user experience.
For best results, use targeted keywords in the media alt text, caption, and tags to help increase keyword relevancy and improve ranking.
Another common mistake is not changing file names before uploading the files to a website. When users click on the files, it’s alarming to see something named “finalFINALedit12345.jpg”. It also hurts SEO rankings. For best practice, rename file names with relevant keywords before uploading them to your website.
6. Difficult to Find Information
As the hub of your marketing efforts, a business website should be easy to read and navigate. Website content needs to be “scannable,” both by search engine crawlers and human eyes.
Crawlers use specific criteria to interpret and rank these pages. In terms of human experience, however, skimming is in our nature. Therefore, readers must be able to quickly and easily locate their answers since the average user only reads about 20% of the text on a page. Accessibility considerations and features also help readers who are hard of hearing or visually impaired interpret imagery or read copy. Text color, background colors, typeface, and size all play a role in accessibility.
Optimizing your website means viewers can easily navigate its content. When the menu has too many items, users have difficulty finding the answers they seek. If they don’t see what they’re looking for immediately, they’ll promptly move on to a competitor’s website. Plus, a crowded navigation bar makes your page appear unpleasantly cluttered.
Above all, your business website should be simple to understand. Organize its layout so users can effortlessly locate contact forms and critical information throughout the page. Endless home pages, vast chunks of unnecessary text, and general page clutter discourages the reader, causing them to bounce.
7. Improper Website Structure
The last most common SEO web design mistake that your website might contain is improper website structure. A website’s structure includes file organization as well as URL organization.
For example, it’s best practice to publish all blogs after a page titled “blog.” The URL structure may look like “website.com/blog/blog-title” for an optimized page.
The same concept applies to the organization of pages on your website. A well-organized website means a better user experience. User experience is one of the key elements of great-performing SEO.
Contact Forge Apollo for SEO Web Design in Philadelphia
If you want to ensure your website stays at the top of search results, start by investing in an SEO-friendly website design from Forge Apollo. After developing a website following the best SEO practices, our digital team can develop an ongoing strategy to help you increase in rankings, including regular updates, a blogging strategy, website maintenance, and in-depth market research.
Our website design options start at just $2,000, and businesses can choose between template designs or a custom design. Contact us today if you’re ready to help your website shoot to the top of search results with an SEO-friendly website design.