Website design is an integral part of website creation. The ideal web design is not just about an aesthetically pleasing layout. Instead, it is a combination of three ingredients influencing one another: web development, graphic design, and marketing.
When done correctly, a website’s design should not only look attractive but also prioritize a satisfactory user experience. When users are comfortable with using and navigating the site, this will have a positive impact on the site’s ranking on search engine result pages.
Anyone who understands digital marketing knows SEO is an integral aspect of digital content creation. The higher a page or site ranks on search engine result pages, the more visibility it gets. More visibility means an increase in traffic and, eventually, in revenue.
If you want to learn more about the relationship between website design and SEO, this article will be helpful for you. We will explain why website design is important, how it affects SEO, and how to optimize it for search engines.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
Why Website Design is Important
Before we discuss the link between website design and SEO, you need to understand why having great web design is integral to the success of your website.
Here are some reasons why website design is important:
- It establishes the first impression. A user’s visit to your website will be their first encounter with your brand. Visitors will judge the brand within only a few seconds of accessing the website, forming assumptions after looking at the web design;
- It increases credibility. Good website design increases people’s trust in a brand. A website that is visually attractive, up to date, and easy to navigate radiates professionalism;
- It reinforces the brand image. Many big-name brands have specific fonts and colors associated with them. Reinforce your brand’s image through web design, using certain fonts and color schemes consistently throughout the website;
- It makes visitors stay longer on the website. Some people will stop engaging with a website if they find the design unattractive. On the other hand, visually pleasing web design can convince people to stay on the site, increasing on-page time.
How Website Design Affects SEO
There are many factors search engine bots consider when ranking web pages for search engine results.
For example, websites running on HTTPS rank better on Google results pages compared to ones running only on HTTP. The difference is HTTPS websites have valid SSL certificates, providing a higher level of website security, especially regarding sensitive data.
In addition to the stronger security, visitors will be less likely to encounter errors like the Connection Is Not Private error, which can appear if the browser has trouble creating a secure SSL connection or verifying an SSL certificate.
SEO Amplifies User Experience
Search engine bots rank sites and pages on search engine results pages. These bots prefer websites with stylish and creative designs rather than simple and plain ones..
However, it is important to keep human users in mind when designing a website, not the bots. The bots are only mirroring the actions of human users.
This is why user experience is an essential aspect of website design. Human users are going to leave a site that is aesthetically unappealing and hard to navigate. Examples of bad website design aspects include difficult-to-read fonts and slow load times.
Therefore, pay attention to great website design practices, so both real users and search engine bots are inclined to stay on your site.
High-Quality Visuals Boost Time on Site
Attractive web design shows your attention to detail and makes you look like you know what you are doing.
If your site is visually appealing, users will be more inclined to stay. A combination of high-quality content and design will encourage site visitors to explore more of the website and engage with it.
Dwell time is an important factor of SEO. When users stay or dwell on a website for a long time, search engines will typically boost the site’s ranking. This is because a long dwell time means users actually engage with the content and obtain valuable information.
Search Engines Can Index Your Site Better
Search engines typically work in three steps: crawling, indexing, and ranking.
Crawling refers to the process of search engines combing the internet for content.
The next step is indexing, which is the process of organizing information obtained from crawling. Information is stored in the index to be shown as a response to relevant search queries.
The organized information is then ranked and appears on search engine results pages in the order of most to least relevant.
When a website has high-quality design and content, search engines rank it better because they can easily read well-structured content.
The combination of high-quality design, relevant content, and proper indexing will boost a website’s ranking on search engine results pages, increasing organic traffic to your site.
How to Optimize Website Design for SEO
This section will discuss seven ways to optimize web design for SEO, from creating simple site navigation to managing pop-ups.
1. Design a Simple Site Navigation
Create a site architecture that is simple and easy to navigate. Use hierarchical categories and subcategories to organize website content. Well-organized site architecture makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl the site.
Visitors should be able to find the information they want quickly and easily. If your website architecture is too complicated and users find it difficult to access certain information or perform specific actions, they may get confused and frustrated.
This can result in people leaving your website shortly after accessing it, trying to find another website that is easier to navigate and understand.
If instances like this happen often, it can increase your bounce rate. In other words, there will be an increase in the percentage of people leaving your site prematurely.
This will impact your site’s ranking negatively, as search engines see a high bounce rate as a sign of a website failing to provide an excellent user experience for its visitors.
2. Make the Site Mobile-Friendly
Today, making website design responsive is a must. Mobile-friendliness has become a non-negotiable aspect of website design.
These days, many people already use mobile devices to access the internet. These devices come in different shapes and sizes, from smartphones to tablets. As a result, website makers have to make sure their sites are adaptable to any screen size.
In addition, Google has made a significant change in its search engine indexing system. Any website launched after July 2019 is automatically subject to mobile-first indexing.
In fact, Google has switched all websites from desktop-first to mobile-first indexing since March 2021. This means it predominantly uses the mobile version of websites for indexing and ranking.
If your website looks great on desktop but not on mobile, it is most likely that your site’s ranking will suffer.
3. Increase Page Loading Speed
Website load time is one of the most important aspects of SEO. According to a study conducted by Google, 53% of people will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
There are numerous techniques you can use to increase page loading speed. Some examples include removing unnecessary plugins, optimizing the size and format of the images, reducing cookie size, and minimizing HTTP requests.
In addition, there are also many tools to measure site speed. One such tool is Google PageSpeed Insights, which measures your site speed and gives you a score out of 100.
It also breaks down factors that may be slowing down your site and gives suggestions for improving the site load time.
Doing so will help search engines find the content easily and prevent you from missing out on SEO benefits.
5. Focus on Web Accessibility
Web accessibility refers to the quality of websites being easily accessible for all types of people, regardless of disability or impairment.
As explained before, search engine bots mimic human user experience – this includes disabled people. In addition to the SEO boost, the more accessible your website is, the larger your user base will be.
Some web design best practices in terms of accessibility include placing the website logo on the top left, using left-aligned body text, and ensuring responsive design.
Many people with disabilities also use screen readers to navigate the web. A screen reader is an assistive technology converting text and visual elements into speech or braille.
As a result, making your site more accessible also means using the proper title tags for web pages and helpful alt text for images. Title tags help screen readers distinguish one web page from another, while alt text helps describe the content depicted in images.
Other ways to improve a site’s accessibility include creating a sitemap, using relevant anchor text, providing video transcriptions, and using Schema Markup.
6. Pay Attention to Content and Image
Content and image quality are of paramount importance as they are the main reason users visit your site.
In terms of content, you should always strive to provide high-quality and relevant content. In addition to the quality of content, there are various aspects to consider, such as font choice and header structure.
Although font choice does not impact SEO directly, readability does affect user experience, which affects SEO rankings. Avoid using dark backgrounds, too many font types, difficult-to-read fonts, as well as font sizes that are too big or too small.
Make the content as skimmable as possible. To do this, organize content into headings and subheadings. You can also use bullet points to introduce multiple items or use numbered lists for step-by-step guides.
Header hierarchy is also important to provide structure for your content. Use appropriate header tags and arrange them in a logical order. There are six levels of headings, from H1 to H6. H1 is the most important header tag, while H6 is the least important.
In terms of images, include media files to break up the lines of text in the content and provide a splash of color to the site. They improve user experience and increase dwell time.
However, do note if large media files are not optimized properly, they may slow down the page load time.
To avoid slow load time, compress the media files into smaller sizes. Use descriptive alt text for each image used. In addition to improving accessibility, alt text is also used by search engine bots to understand and index images.
7. Manage Your Pop-Ups
Pop-ups are small windows appearing on top of a web page, usually displaying ads or prompting certain actions from site visitors. For example, a pop-up may encourage users to sign up for the site’s newsletter.
You should minimize the use of pop-ups as much as possible. Using too many pop-ups can decrease the site’s credibility and cause visitors to leave the site early due to frustration. After all, they visit the website because they’re looking for information, not to be bombarded by pop-up ads.
In addition, Google penalizes websites that use intrusive pop-ups. Examples of pop-ups deemed intrusive by Google include ones covering the main content on a page and ones that have to be manually dismissed by visitors before they can access the main content.
That being said, Google does make exceptions for pop-ups of a certain nature.
These are pop-ups for legal purposes like ones asking for age verification, pop-ups asking for login information to access exclusive content, and banners taking up a reasonable amount of screen space.
If you really need to use pop-ups, try using an exit intent pop-up, which only appears when a user attempts to navigate away from your website.
Website design is important because it establishes the first impression, increases credibility, reinforces brand image, and makes visitors stay longer on the website.
It also affects SEO through user experience and the quality of visuals. Search engine bots mirror human user experience, while high-quality visuals tend to increase dwell time.
As a result, when coupled with relevant content, excellent web design can also make search engines index websites better.
What’s more, there are seven ways to optimize website design for SEO.
- Simple site navigation;
- Responsive web design;
- Page load speed;
- Web accessibility;
- High-quality content and images;
- Managing pop-up usage.
If you keep in mind the ways website design influences SEO and follow the tips discussed above, you will be a step closer to reaching the number one ranking on search engine results pages. Good luck!
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