When you sit down with a web design company in Melbourne to discuss how your new website is going to look and feel, you will probably be thinking about the real customers who will be visiting your site. Of course, this audience should be considered. After all, it’s estimated that up to 48 percent of web visitors cite website design as being the most important factor in deeming the credibility of an online business.
However, many businesses fail to consider their other target audience — search engine bots. These automated visitors are arguably just as important. If Google’s bots find it difficult to navigate, crawl and index your website, your real customers may struggle to even find you online.
There is an inherent and important link between web design and SEO. Google is very open about the fact that it prefers user-friendly websites and that SEO experts and web designers should work together when building a new website or redesigning an old one.
As a full digital service agency, Newpath Web’s team includes an array of SEO professionals and trained web designers. All our decisions are made with both real customers and search engine principles in mind. Our clients are the beneficiaries of this, and our customer portfolio includes an array of engaging websites that consistently see excellent SEO results.
Want an inside look into how we design with SEO in mind? Read on to find out!
SEO broken down
To understand how SEO and web design are interconnected, let’s start by breaking down the three categories of search engine optimisation.
An effective SEO strategy is made up of three components; technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. These strands work together to provide Google with an in-depth overview of the relevance, trustworthiness, and relative authority of your website.
On-page and technical SEO are often confused. They both involve changes made to your website. Search engine professionals suggest that the main difference between the two is that on-page SEO is primarily concerned with your content. Technical SEO is every aspect of your website beyond this.
- Title tags
- Meta description
- Header tags
- Image optimisation
- Keyword rich content
- Site speed
- Site structure
- Site security
- Structured data
Off-page SEO primarily consists of link building and guest blogging — effectively using other websites to let Google know that your site can be trusted. Sharing articles, images, and links on social media is also an example of off-page SEO.
SEO and web design
Google’s mission, as per their website, is to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
It’s no surprise, then, that your web design can have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. It’s one thing for your website to be full of useful information. It’s another for that information to be organised in a user-friendly way, load quickly, and be complemented with relevant graphics and images.
This is why it’s so important that both a web designer and SEO expert are consulted throughout the process of building a new website. Each can bring their own knowledge of user-experience and search engine principles, to ensure that your website appeals to all audiences.
Web design principles that incorporate SEO
Fortunately, it’s not particularly difficult to build a website that both real customers and Google’s search engine bots rate highly. There are a few key principles that web designers follow to ensure SEO success.
Regardless of what business you are in, most people will visit your website with a direct goal in mind. Perhaps they want to purchase an item. Or maybe they are looking for information about a service you provide.
Visitors should not have to search more than a few seconds to find what they are looking for. Your site needs to be structured that clearly leads people to where they want to go. This can be achieved through links, menus, and an appropriate page hierarchy.
You also need to include what is known as a XML sitemap. This is purely for Google’s search engine bots. Think of it as a map that they can use to better understand your website. An XML sitemap is very important from an SEO perspective.
You may not realise it, but ‘web design’ can extend to elements such as your website’s URL. A URL also plays a significant role in establishing user trust. To start with, your website needs to be HTTPS — or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Google places great emphasis on web security and will heavily penalise websites that do not offer this additional layer of protection.
Aside from this, URLs that succeed (with both human customers and search engine bots) tend to be short, sharp and succinct. Your URL should accurately describe your website. Consider using hyphens to break up words and make sure that the URL reflects the hierarchy of your website structure.
Graphics, photos, and illustrations are a great way of attracting user attention and are an important element of web design. However, these features need to be treated carefully from an SEO perspective.
Let’s start with image files. These need to be labelled descriptively, using an appropriate structure. Try to incorporate keywords into your file names, to give Google’s bots a better idea of what the image contains.
You also need to include alt text. Not only will this provide more information to Google, it also makes your site accessible to those with a vision impairment.
Finally, make sure that your image files are the correct size. High definition graphics might be important, but not at the cost of site speed, which brings us onto our next point.
Users are not going to hang around too long if your website takes more than a few seconds to load. Unfortunately, those exciting elements of web design — graphics, videos, animations, and more — often have a negative effect on your site speed. This can lead Google to penalise you heavily from an SEO standpoint.
When creating assets for a website, web designers need to have site speed in mind. Consider compressing files, reducing redirects, and using caching to increase page load time.
Of course, these are only a handful of the many elements that both SEO experts and web designers need to consider when creating a new website. There are many advantages to using a full services web design company in Melbourne, one of which is the fact that you will have all the resources, personnel, and expertise at your disposal to ensure your website is a success on all fronts.
If you’re struggling to make an SEO impact or think it might be time to overhaul your website’s design, contact Newpath Web today to learn how we can help you achieve your online goals.