In the current state of SEO, great emphasis has been placed on focusing on content relevance and user intent. And while those two are essential to optimize for search, you can’t undermine the impact of clean, intelligent web design.
Take this scenario, someone goes online to look for something. A website appears near the top of the search results. Upon visiting that site, they find the layout to be either confusing, unattractive, simply off-putting or some combination of all three. They go back to the search engine results page (SERP) to find what they’re looking for somewhere else.
Image Credit: purwaka seta from Pixabay
When users bounce from a site, it signals to search engines that their query wasn’t satisfied, and that website they visited wasn’t the right answer or solution to their search. As noted by Page Cloud, Google’s RankBrain update picks up on these types of behavioral signals as it continuously optimizes the algorithm to rank the best results. So while a website may have the actual answers/solutions to users’ queries, if the web design is turning people off, its rankings will still be affected.
This article will touch on the many ways good web design can impact your SEO strategy.
Web Design Stats
But before we dive into how web design and SEO work hand in hand, take a gander at these stats to better put things in context.
- 2 out of 3 users (66%) prefer to browse a beautifully designed website. Additionally, 75% of people form their opinion of a website (and ultimately a brand) based on its aesthetics.
- 81% of customers search online before they make a purchase in a physical store. Meanwhile, the average time between a product search and an online purchase is 20 days.
- 72% of users have abandoned their shopping carts because of poor user experience. Moreover, 88% of users won’t return to a website after a poor user experience.
6 Web Design Tips for Improving SEO
Tip #1. Make Site Navigation as Easy as Possible
When it comes to website navigation, how you structure a site’s menu can greatly impact search rankings, leads and conversions. Conversely, when cluttered, it can also increase bounce rates and lead to a poor user experience.
Some of the best practices in this regard include using descriptive labels, minimizing options, and limiting the use of dropdown menus whenever possible. SerpStat notes, though, that if you were to use dropdown menus, make sure it’s in HTML and designed based on UX usability – not aesthetics.
To get a visual of what a confusing menu structure looks like, check out Boots’ below:
It doesn’t take an expert to see how difficult it is to find what you need in this complex menu structure. But not only is this confusing for users, it’s potentially confusing for search engines as well.
Contrast that with how Amazon does it…
Just by looking at it, Amazon’s menu structure looks a lot cleaner. This is aided by their excellent search function that enables users to easily follow breadcrumbs and find nested categories based on search results.
Speaking of secondary menus, Book Depository does a great job with using curated lists as secondary categories.
Whatever approach you choose to take, keep in mind that your navigation should be in conjunction with the user journey and your call-to-action. This makes it easier for both users and search engines to navigate and get what they need.
Tip #2. Optimize Images for SEO
Because loading speed is a factor for a site’s rankings, you need to make sure that you use images that aren’t too large. Whenever you can, use images that are between 30 to 100kb with a resolution of 72dpi.
As well, in the alt text section of the image, make sure that you include a keyword as this, as it does with text, will aid your site’s SEO. You also need to be more thoughtful of where you place images on your site. As with all content, the more relevant they are to a particular page, the more it will improve your ranking.
Tip #3. Adapt a Mobile-friendly Design
Let’s start this off with a couple of stats. The average time a user spends on their smartphones is five hours per day. Meanwhile, 48% of users get frustrated if a website is not mobile-responsive. Add to this the fact that Google considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, and there’s no reason to approach mobile-friendliness lightly. So while the importance of having a mobile-friendly design has been emphasized enough in recent years, a lot of brands still get it wrong.
To avoid this, keep in mind the three approaches to mobile web design – separate URLs, dynamic content, and responsive design. Thankfully, there is a tool from Google that allows you to check your site’s mobile friendliness. As well as, website builder platforms like Shopify which are built with templates that are both mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive, making the task much easier.
Tip #4. Add Footer Links to Every Page
Tip #5. Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content negatively impacts rankings if you don’t let Google understand which of the pages with the same content are more vital. This usually happens when webmasters opt for a separate mobile website.
A wiser option would be to incorporate a mobile responsive design on your website as this remedies duplicate content by using a single URL regardless of the user’s device.
Tip #6. Integrate Social Media
This isn’t limited to putting links in the footer. What this actually entails is making it easy to share content, products, and pages from your website to your social channels. This increases visibility and gets you more attention on all fronts – including search engines.
When it comes to SEO, it ultimately boils down to usability and value. Whether it’s providing information users are looking for, having engaging content that makes them spend time on your website, or providing a great user experience – you need to do what you have to do to improve your website’s usability and value, and web design is a big part of UX.
From the tips above, what improvements can you execute on your website? Sound off in the comments below.
Aaron Chichioco is the chief content officer (CCO) and one of the web designers of Design Doxa. His expertise includes not only limited to Web/mobile design and development, but digital marketing, branding, eCommerce strategy and business management tactics as well. For more information about Aaron, visit http://designdoxa.com/about-us/.