What is SEO Website Design?
SEO website design is the development of a website that follows all SEO best practices. This includes structuring the website in a way that optimizes search engine results for content, meta information, and website crawlability.
Why SEO Web Design Is Critical to Search Engine Results
Most companies hire a SEO agency months or years after creating their website design. Unfortunately, this creates more work for the agency and increased costs for the company.
Since most web designers are unfamiliar with high level search engine optimization, they listen to the wants and needs of the decision maker and build the website as requested. Whether the ideas are good or bad, in most cases, the result is a website that’s difficult for search engines to understand.
Website Design VS Website Development
Before we get too far in this article, we need to distinguish the difference between website design and website development.
- A website design is the front end appearance of a site. This includes the colors, fonts, and images used to create a visual appeal.
- Website development is the construction of a website. It’s the foundation, the framing, and the nuts and bolts that create the canvas for design. It is website development that creates a website structure that lasts for years to come. This is the hope, anyway…
Because of “done for you” website development products such as Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix, many people claim to offer website development services. In reality, they are just providing a new-sleek design.
Author’s Note: Even these “websites in a box” companies leave a lot of room for SEO optimization. There is a lot that a SEO expert can do for your Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify website.
Because of this, clients assume a website design service includes the nuts and bolts, but this isn’t always the case. These clients either end up paying extra for simple work or they end up with a WordPress website that lacks SEO site structure.
So really, SEO website design is more appropriately titled SEO website development. Since our SEO research for this article suggests SEO website design, we will stick to this name for the rest of the piece.
Interestingly, SEO website development gets 1/3 the amount of searches as SEO website design but is a harder topic to rank for. See, even those of us offering SEO services learn something interesting through keyword research. Anyway, back to the topic we are hoping to rank for :).
The Problem With Most Websites
Here’s a short list of actions (or inaction) taken in web design that negatively affects SEO performance for new sites. A fast way to find out the level of SEO knowledge a web designer has is asking him to explain these topics. If they stumble through their response, expect there to be SEO errors in your finished website design.
Excessive Amounts of indexed pages
Whether it’s ecommerce websites adding thousands of poorly optimized product pages or service businesses with feature filled websites, most have too many indexable pages. Excessive amounts of pages make search engine crawling more difficult and honestly, it makes your life more difficult.
A SEO web design will be considerate of your crawl budget and condense pages with a less but better approach. For example, do you really need an about us page? Or is that information better placed on your home page with a paragraph of content and a video to enhance the experience?
Pages With Thin Content
In this social media driven world, many new website designs create visually appealing pages that lack words. While Google reads images, it emphasizes words. Since most website designers are not SEO copywriters, they leave pages with only a few hundred words of content.
To increase your Search engine ranking for an important keyword, your pages need to be content rich and visually appealing. Both are important SEO elements for your website and having one without the other leads to disappointing results.
Missing Meta Information
Companies sign off on a website design based on what they see, since what they pay attention matches the users experience. This is no way to create a SEO friendly website. The back end technical information drives the SEO design more than the visual appearance of the site.
Effective SEO requires each page to have a meta title and meta description. This shows up in the search engine and is important for your website click thru rate. Click thru rate tells Google that people are interested in your page and increases your position to better satisfy their users.
Image Meta Information: Going a step further, every image on your website must include a meta title and description. Images populate for many search terms and you miss out on this feature when you do not include meta information for your images.
No Internal Links
Far too many websites lead Google to a dead end. Internal links help Google understand where to go next. This is an important but often missed aspect of a solid SEO strategy. You have keyword research, you have blog post content, but internally linking a conversation that most who “claim” to offer SEO web design services will speak about.
The reason is that internal linking is an art as much as a science, and it’s hard work. An internal linking campaign is a strategy that a SEO expert uses to help hard to rank pages gain traction through other easier to rank pages on a website. It helps Google and Google users find pages that may currently be stuck on page two.
There is a lot more we can say about internal linking, but we’ll save that for a full article on the subject.
The Problem With a Website Redesign
Existing companies will hire a web designer and wonder why they lost search engine traffic after the change. There are many reasons SEO rankings drop with a website redesign, but let’s cover the most important factors here.
Most of these issues have to do with URLs. We can’t stress enough that a website redesign carefully considers each URL to make sure they continue to exist or have the appropriate redirects set up.
Fact: Before you go through a website redesign, have a proper SEO audit performed to determine your on page and off page SEO performance.
The web designer is most concerned with people who have heard of your brand. Their intention is to make you appear to be the best choice for your product or service. This is an outstanding feature and necessary for web design services, but the assumption that people visiting your site already know your brand isn’t always correct.
When a website redesign does not keep its previous URLs it signals to Google that these pages no longer exist. Google then removes them from the search engine and people will no longer find your website.
Worse, when you change URLs, all of those backlinks that naturally developed over time will lose their value.
Backlinks: Websites that link to your website. Google considers these an important ranking factor and may be a reason you are being beaten out by the competition.
Dead Internal Links
When you keep your content the same but change URL, you end up with dead internal links and dead image links. These issues will lower your site health and create issues for your Google search rankings.
The Right Way To Design a SEO Friendly Website
Whether it’s for local SEO or a national campaign, the first step to creating a website is by formulating a winning SEO strategy. The best strategies come through synergistic and dynamic conversations between the company and a SEO web design agency. When you combine both sets of expertise, the sum becomes greater than their parts.
That said, there are steps that every website development process should follow. Here’s a look at a few:
Begin With User Experience
If your customers struggle with your website, then so will Google. Creating the best (not most complicated) user experience creates a firm foundation for your SEO to build upon.
Step 1: Optimize Page Speed: Simply put, your website needs to be fast. It doesn’t need to be the fastest on the internet, but needs a page load time that prevents users from clicking back or closing the tab. There are two principal reasons this happens.
- They host the website on a slow or crowded server: Too many companies choose cheap shared hosting options. Slow hosting costs them much more than the additional $20.00 per month that a fast server costs.
- There is page content throughout the site: Oversized images, improperly set up videos and other heavyweight elements of a site can slow down the page load time. Even without SEO expertise, a good web developer sets this up correctly in advance.
Step 2: Make Your Website Mobile Friendly: Most websites have a mobile friendly theme, but their content is not. Improper image sizes, lengthy paragraphs, and changes to your site structure can make your mobile friendly theme look terrible on a phone. Since this is a primary ranking factor for Google, the user experience of your website on mobile is crucially important.
Step 3: Create Easy To Read Content: Difficult to read sentences, big words and lengthy paragraphs make it hard for the person scanning your page to capture any information. We should write content at an average of an 8th grade level with sentences should be short and to the point.
Shift to Search Engine Experience
There are aspects of your website that a user will never see or pay attention to. However, Google clearly understands these aspects of your website and what they see and read is important to your position in the search result.
Step 1: Set Irrelevant Search Engine Pages To NoIndex: Ecommerce websites are notorious for this issue, but it appears across pretty much every website we work on. Pages such as product variants, temporary pages, and borrowed content should be noindex. This way, Google will not crawl them and consider them as a part of your overall topic authority.
Step 2: Create Relevant Content: Like many aspects of business, your website needs to focus on its core competency. Having a lot of wild and cool information on your website creates confusion about what your primary business is. Google cannot identify your business as the subject matter expert for a particular locality or industry.
Short keyword focused URLs: Staying on focus, your page URL should focus on the main keyword you want to rank for. Using this article as an example, we set the URL to “what is SEO website design” which is our long term ranking goal.
Final Thoughts On SEO Website Design
Whether you are creating your first website or going through a website redesign, consider SEO throughout the process. If you have a fantastic web developer who doesn’t understand SEO, bring in a consultant so that your website is SEO optimized.
If you don’t yet have a website developer, consider hiring a SEO agency to do the work. If the agency does not offer design services, bring in someone to create the finished look.
805 SEO Web Design Service
At 805 SEO, we take our SEO web design service seriously. Since we handle the SEO success of our clients, we want every web page completely optimized for long term SEO success. Whether you need a SEO consultant or want us to be the primary contact for all your website SEO services, we would love to help.
Fill out the form below for a free website strategy call. In it, we will take a deeper look at your business and help you identify the best way to win with SEO.