We know we write about this a lot, but it’s something that does need be covered every now and then so that it’s fresh in people’s minds. Web design isn’t just about building websites, it’s about building websites that work – and SEO (search engine optimisation) is a big part of that process.
The goal of many web designers is to make a great looking site to showcase a business. A good looking website is not very effective, however, if few people see it.
To rank highly in the search engines requires SEO, and SEO is about a lot more than just the text on your page and the links to your website. Aspects of the website’s design and build are also factors. Here are some of the key design elements that web designers need to consider:
Responsiveness and speed
Google favours responsive sites whose layout adjusts to the size of screen it is being viewed on, from a large computer monitor down to a small smartphone. Google even warns if a website is mobile friendly, and warns the website owner if it is not through Google Console. Is yours mobile friendly?
Another consideration from Google is loading time. The faster a site loads, the better Google likes it. Slow websites can find getting decent rankings a slow process.
Search engines cannot see the content or subject matter of images. They do take notice of Alt attributes, image file names and image file size. A site designed to appeal to the search engines will optimise these elements, making images clear but optimised for small file sizes, include keywords in alt attributes and incorporate a keyword in the image file name.
The page structure of a site is a series of URL addresses. An example is http://yourdomain.com for the home page and a series of folders, subfolders and page names for other parts of the site.
An ecommerce site can have an address http://yourdomain.com/products/widgets/ 789012. Which points to a page for product number 789012 in the widget section but it is not clear from the number code what type of widget 789012 is. Alternately http://yourdomain.com/ products/widgets /small-red-widget is obviously a small red widget in the product category and this is much clearer. The first URL example does not give search engines much to go on, but the second has a relevant keyword.
Scripting and Code
Web designers who are expert coders may be tempted to stuff a page with code to make lots of fancy things happen. This may result in the page working well for the visitor, but bloated code can confuse the search engines when they are trying to index the page. They can also slow down the page load times, which also slows down the site’s capacity to achieve great rankings.
Flash… aha… saviour of the universe
Flash is great technology for adding animations and flashy graphics to… I was going to say websites, but no. To things. Flash really shouldn’t be used on website unless you’re creating standalone games or similar functions. Even then, there are now better ways to do this than by using Flash. The big downside of Flash is that search engines cannot recognise any text content in Flash, and Apple iPads and iPhones refuse to display Flash content. Now that HTML5 can create Flash like effects, it is probably best not to use Flash on a search engine friendly website… or on any website. Ever.
Designing a website with SEO in mind can elevate the ranking of a website above its competitors. A good professional web design team, such as here at Engage Web, will incorporate SEO in their web designs.