Where Does SEO Belong in Your Web Design Process?
Web design is not all about eye-catching visual elements or creative user interfaces (UIs). Although these features are important, they won’t help you secure your place on the number #1 search engine result page (SERP).
You might be wondering just how important attaining position #1 on Google’s result page really is? Well, it’s very important, if not crucial, for your website visibility, as 91.5% of Google traffic comes from the first page, while more than 90% of people never even click on the second one.
If you want your website to be visible and drive organic traffic, you need to include search engine optimization (SEO) into your web design process.
We have created this article in collaboration with one of the top local SEO companies to help you understand where SEO belongs in your web design process and how to integrate it properly.
Google algorithms use more than 200 factors to rank websites, but the five most important elements you need to consider when building your website with SEO in mind are:
- Image file names
- URL structure
- Indexable content
Let’s examine these eight elements in more detail!
A sitemap is a file that contains all the website’s important pages, videos, and other files and shows the relationships between them. It helps Google better understand the structure of your website and crawl your pages more efficiently.
Here are some general guidelines for creating a sitemap:
- Use tools and plugins like Google Sitemap Generator to create sitemaps automatically.
- Make your high-quality content a priority.
- Include only canonical URLs.
- Divide large sitemaps into smaller ones.
- Encode sitemap files with UTF-8
- Submit your sitemap to Google.
When it comes to sitemaps, Google recognizes only these three formats:
- RSS, mRSS, and Atom1.0
Ultimately, a sitemap will give Google valuable hints about what pages and files you find to be most important on your website.
Creating a sitemap for your website makes the most sense if you plan to design a large website with rich media content.
2. Image file names
Including keywords and descriptions in your image file names gives Google a clear indication of what is actually featured in the image. When you are optimizing the image files for SEO, try the following:
- Make your file names as clear and descriptive as possible.
- Include alt text that is rich with keywords.
- Place your images near the relevant context.
- Optimize the file size of your images.
- Only use file types that are commonly supported, like JPEG or PNG.
Properly named image files are not only a great asset to your website visibility and ranking but are also more user-friendly, and Google takes user experience very seriously.
3. URL structure
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), also known as “the web address” serves to point to the location of a web document. You will find that the URL always appears above the title and the description in the SERP.
Here is what you can do to optimize your URL for search engines:
- Use a simple and intuitive URL structure.
- Implement HTTPS protocols for better security.
- Make your URL description as short as possible.
- Include 1-2 relevant keywords.
- Use hyphens for separating words.
- Make sure your letters are lowercase.
A clean, well-structured URL will help your website perform better in SERPs and appear more trustworthy. Additionally, URLs that contain a keyword have a 45% higher click-through rate than those that don’t.
Metadata is often defined as data about data. In web design, metadata includes descriptions of the on-page content, as well as keywords that are linked to that content.
Metadata optimization for search engines is typically done in two places: title tag and meta description.
Here are the top four tips for optimizing your title tags for search engines:
- Keep your title tags within the character limits (50-60) for full visibility.
- Capitalize the first letter of each word, apart from conjunctions and prepositions.
- Put the brand name at the end of the meta title tag for better URL ranking in branded search queries.
- Don’t overstuff your title tags with keywords. Use only 1-2 keywords for each title tag.
A meta description is a back-end element that can’t be seen on the front-end of the website. However, it is visible in search results where it appears under the meta title.
The meta description doesn’t affect SEO ranking directly, but it does indirectly, as it is an important part of user satisfaction and can have a big impact on your click-through rates. Pages with meta descriptions receive 5,8% more clicks than those that don’t.
To optimize your meta description for user-friendliness, try the following:
- Make your meta description length to be no more than 155 characters.
- Place important keywords as close to the front of the meta description tag as possible.
- Try not to use unnecessary symbols or punctuation.
- When it makes sense, include your unique selling points and ctr.
Your website’s metadata helps Google’s algorithms review the content on your pages and decide if it is useful and relevant to your users.
5. Indexable content
Indexable content is content that is accessible and visible to web crawlers. In Google’s words: “Crawlers look at webpages and follow links on those pages, much like you would if you were browsing the web. They go from link to link and bring data from those web pages back to Google’s servers.”
Submitting your sitemap to Google is one part of designing a website that is easy to crawl and index. Others include:
- Straightening the links between pages so that all content is properly connected.
- Avoid the creation of duplicated content as it can result in less frequent visits from the crawlers.
- Make your pages’ loading times as short as possible to allow crawlers to index your site on the crawling budget.
Once you finish with the website design, make sure you check the pages for indexability and “crawlability.” There are online tools that can help you perform these checks, such as Long File Analyzer and Site Audit.
SEO and user-friendliness are the two crucial elements for a successful web design. While SEO aims to attract visitors to your website, user-friendly design aims to keep them engaged for as long as possible.
We hope our article helped you understand the importance of SEO in web design and provided you with valuable tips on how to design your website for better ranking and visibility.
Photo Credits in the order as the image appears in this article: