Many website designers think of SEO as an afterthought, or something that you work on after your website is already built. That’s shooting yourself in the foot. SEO and web design are basically companions, and you’ll get much better results if you optimize for SEO during the building process. In this article, we’re going to show you how web design and SEO go hand-in-hand with each other, and give you some actionable tips you can immediately put to use on your next website design project.
Optimize for Mobile
Statistics show that over half of all global web traffic comes from mobile devices. So, if you’re designing a website in 2020, it’s absolutely critical to focus on mobile optimization, if not outright focus on designing for mobile first. You can check out some examples from web design professionals like Parachute Design in Toronto to get a better idea of stellar mobile optimization.
Over the years, Google has significantly increased mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. In 2017, Google also introduced mobile-first indexing, which means that Google will use the mobile version of your website for indexing. To put it simply, SEO is now synonymous with mobile optimization. So if your website isn’t loading properly or has a high bounce rate on mobile devices, Google will take that as a sign you have a low-quality website, even if the desktop version is optimized.
Target Long Tail Keywords in Subcategories
This tip is mainly helpful for e-commerce websites, but can be used by anyone designing a website with category-based navigation. The trick is to break down website navigation into categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories. This will allow you to target long tail keywords that Google will index while crawling your website.
As an example, imagine you’re running an e-commerce website for PC hardware. Standard categorization might look something like Peripherals > Mice & Keyboards > Keyboards. But it’d be much better if your subcategories were highly defined. So for example, you could have Mice & Keyboards > USB / Wireless > Mechanical / Membrane > Gaming / Office > RGB / Non-RGB.
Done properly, you could end up ranking for long tail search terms like “mechanical RGB gaming keyboards with USB slots”. All you’re doing is breaking down the sub-categories to be as descriptive as possible, and help your visitors find exactly what they’re looking for – which helps Google index your website more accurately and efficiently.
Give Relevant Alt Attributes to All Images
Artificial intelligence has come leaps and bounds, and if properly trained, is able to recognize objects and automatically add alt attributes to images. But Google’s website crawlers don’t automatically recognize what your images are, and so you need to describe them in the alt attributes of the image.
This is incredibly important for ranking images in Google Image searches, and it may also help determine the relevancy of your page to the keywords. If you have thousands of images on your website, give the above link a read, as it gives some useful tips on auto-generating alt attributes with the help of AI.
Separate Scripts from HTML Documents
Basically, search engine crawlers like getting to your content as quickly as possible, so keep any non-HTML scripts outside of the HTML.
Final Tips for Web Designing with SEO in Mind
Finally, make sure navigation is as easy and intuitive as possible. Your website should guide users exactly where they need to go or funnel them where you want them to go. You should also use content hierarchy to organize your website pages. As we talked about earlier, it’s important to make use of content categories and subcategories.
You can also make use of the “Six Degrees of Separation” principle. You want all of your pages to somehow cross-link between each other, so that visitors and crawlers can easily continue browsing through your website. Just look at Six Degrees of Wikipedia as an example, which shows the shortest path from any one Wikipedia page to another.