For web design companies, website design goes beyond simply putting together a functional framework. It needs to embody the key SEO principles in order to work smoothly, fare well with search engine algorithms, and stay easy enough for audience to navigate. Even though a time-consuming affair, SEO companies spend time and effort to get websites to comply SEO principles to make sure that they show up right on top of search engine ranking results. Needless to say, the effort needed for a well-performing website goes beyond creative agencies creating stellar visual assets for the websites.
Here are 9 essential SEO principles any web designers need to know before launching a new website.
1 – Structure of your website
Site structure is extremely important as a SEO tactic.
Search engines employ crawlers to scan through websites, looking for new content. These crawlers also index the websites which is a list of URLs stored by search engines. That’s why, every web designer needs to make sure that the website is easy enough for crawlers to do their job.
To achieve this, the website structure should be such that it leads the users to exactly where they want to go. The more difficult you make navigation, the harder it is for crawlers to understand what every page offers. Secondly, it is also important to undertake interlinking so that crawlers are able to find different pages on the website. The homepage of your website should provide the key information you want to convey to your users and you can always break that down to several subpages. However, ensure that the site hierarchy is restricted to three or four layers so that the content is easier to locate.
Bonus tip is to add a XML sitemap on your website. This can make the job of a crawler easier as it lists all the pages you want them to discover.
2 – Pay attention to the structure of the URL
The URL of your website plays an important role when it comes to search ranking. Having a short and semantically correct URL can go a long way in ensuring the algorithm understands what your website talks about.
Make sure to add descriptive keywords in your URL and also separate them with hyphens for better readability. Ensure that the hierarchy of your website is clearly reflected through the URL. For instance, if you are creating an URL for a blog post on your website, ensure that the URL showcase the path leading from homepage to the blog section of your website.
3 – Take care of the images on your website
Adding high quality images on your website improves the user experience. However, it is also important to optimize them properly so that they can help you rank. There are a few things you can consider doing for the same:
When you name your image files, make sure to use the right keywords. You can also use hyphens to separate them and make it easier for the crawlers to understand what the image contains and how it is relevant for the content on your website.
Add the appropriate alt-text attribute to your images. Alt text not only makes the images more accessible for those users who rely on screen reader to navigate a website but also aid crawlers in comprehending the image. And the more care you take to describe the website content to your users, the easier it is for the algorithm to help you rank.
Best practices for adding alt text include:
- Keep it crisp for better readability. Some screen readers do not support alt text in excess of 125 characters.
- Always add relevant keywords but steer clear of keyword stuffing as that can result in the search engine algorithm penalizing you.
- Ensure that you are not using alt text to simply regurgitate what is already written on the web page. The goal of alt text is to provide additional context to the existing content by describing the images added.
4 – Check whether the website is mobile friendly
With the increase in the number of mobile users, having a mobile-friendly website is a necessity given its direct impact on SEO and ranking.
The easiest way to check the mobile-friendliness of a website is to use Google’s mobile-friendly test. Make sure that you pick a mobile-responsive theme for your mobile website for optimal performance. You also need to check how the navigation of your desktop site performs on a mobile device. For instance, an extensive navigation menu that works seamlessly on desktop or double bar navigation may not be suitable for mobile devices.
Other ways of ensuring mobile-friendliness of a website include:
- Eliminating the use of excessive pop-ups
- Sticking to a readable font style
- Spacing out the links on your website
- Minimizing the volume of content and including only essential information that quickly catches the attention of the user
- Adding images that are specifically optimized for mobile devices to reduce lag
5 – Take care of on-page SEO
On-page SEO elements of a website play a crucial role in ensuring SEO compliance.
Pay attention to the length on the content on your website, the structure of presentation, and the different keywords used. Ensure that the content that every user sees on a website before scrolling down creates a solid impression and keeps them engaged to explore the rest of the website.
To the extent possible, use industry terminology without making the content sound too full of jargons. Depending on the topic, decide what will be the ideal length of each piece of content. Apart from primary and secondary keywords, also add semantic keywords in your content as if you are answering popular user questions through the content.
6 – Pay attention to the website speed
A website that takes too long to load can be bad news for SEO as page speed is an important ranking factor for the search algorithm. In fact, study published by Google revealed that up to 53 percent of visits get abandoned when the website takes more than 3 seconds to load on a desktop or more than 15 seconds to load on mobile.
Needless to say, improving load times is critical for ensuring better SEO. There are a few easy ways to achieve this, such as:
- Enabling browser caching so that each time a user visits, the website is only required to load a part of the website
- Minimizing the number of redirects
- Getting rid of bugs and tags from the code
- Optimizing images and videos properly
7 – Check the heading tags
Crawlers cannot comprehend the content of your website in the absence of appropriate headers. Here’s where headings can be incredibly useful, providing useful clues to the bots and helping them understand how the information is organized on your website.
Headings are also helpful for your website visitors as it allows them to quickly scan through the website and identify the critical information they are looking for.
When adding headings to your content, be mindful about the order of importance. Headings shouldn’t be used as a mere accessory to make your text look better — it should be directly linked to the text it is added to. The most important heading should be marked as <h1> heading and follow by other lower-level headings such as <h2>, <h3>, <h4> etc.
8 – Be smart about your CMS
The content management system or CMS you choose for your website can make or break your SEO ranking. CMS allows you to seamlessly publish and update content on your website, even when you don’t know any coding.
Any CMS you choose should allow you to easily edit the URL, title tag, alt text for images, headings, and meta description. The core web vitals parameter that includes LCP (largest contentful paint), FID (first input delay) and CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift) should also be supported by the CMS. Lastly, the CMS should also help you generate a robots.txt file and XML sitemap to help the search algorithm locate all the pages that need to be found.
WordPress, Drupal, Wix and Magento are some of the most popular CMS preferred by web designers globally. If set up correctly, all of them can do wonders for your SEO.
9 – Don’t forget to secure your website
The last point to keep in mind is the security of your website that directly impacts the SEO efforts. If your website is not HTTPS, browsers can flag it as a not secure website, reducing the traffic and ultimately hampering your ranking. You also need to be careful about any spam content that gets added to the website. Hackers often use spam content links to redirect users to their pages. However, these pages are extremely suspicious and usually, you wouldn’t want to be associated with them.
As a website designer, be mindful of the software updates needed for enhancing the security of your website. Be cautious about installing plugins as some of them may have errors making it easier for hackers to get access to your website.
You cannot design a high-performing website without implementing SEO principles
Before you launch any website, make sure to check for these 9 SEO principles. Not only can they get more attention of the audience, but they can also drive quality traffic your way, increasing your chances of showing right on top of search engine rankings.
:Brijesh Jakharia co-founded SPINX Digital in 2005 and takes great pride in crafting web and mobile marketing solutions for mid-market businesses to enterprises. Marketing is his passion, and the thrill to build a brand from the ground up has helped him craft successful brand stories for world-class clients. While not at work, he loves to spend his time on research and reading digital content stories.