Web designers can create the most aesthetically pleasing websites. But what good are those websites if they can’t be found and no one visits them? SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization and is pretty much a necessity these days, as it essentially dictates and influences who visits your website.
Not many web designers know that SEO needs to be built into the web design process from the very beginning and not after the website went online. As a result, web designers need to know that if they don’t design a website with focus on SEO, then their client will have a hard time establishing a steady flow of traffic from search engines.
SEO has two main areas: on-site and off-site SEO. As a web designer, on-site SEO should be the focus. This includes working on the HTML code, page architecture, and content among others.
Web designers who aim to create good-looking websites but also want them to be found in search engines should keep the following 8 things in mind:
1.Design for Mobile-First
Google takes a lot of factors into account when it’s going through the process of ranking websites. Mobile-first design influences a lot of those factors such as page speed and conversion rate to name a few.
Mobile-first design is also crucial to user-experience on a website. Designing a website that’s hard to use with small buttons or difficult navigation, for example, will decrease the chances of a website gaining returning visitors.
As a web designer, you should approach the design with a mobile-first thinking. Create a mobile version of a website and then make it responsive to fit other, larger screen sizes.
2. HTML Code
If the codebase is unusually large, it can be difficult for search engines to interpret parts of the website. There are things as a web designer you should keep in mind:
- Use H1 heading only once per page and H2 headings sparingly;
- Don’t bloat up the web page. If there’s too much going on, then comprehending what’s what will be nigh impossible;
- It’s good coding practice and a sign of your skill if you can minimize the codebase and still have it work its magic.
3. Clear URL Structure
It’s bad practice to have obscure URLs and search engines, in particular, don’t appreciate them. A clear and coherent URL formation is key to SEO. Having a precise URL will avoid any confusion and provide context to users and search engines. The URL structure also affects the navigation, therefore, those designers who do not work with the HTML code itself still need to keep this in mind.
As a web designer, you want to use visuals to break up heavy text and create an informative but visually appealing page. With an <img> element you are telling a search engine that there is an image, however, search engines cannot tell what image is there or what the image depicts.
So how to get search engines to discern what the image is about? You should specify the alt and title attributes, which then allow for an image to be found in image search. Also, don’t forget to compress images as large files severely affect the speed of a page.
We know everyone can get a little impatient; that is why the loading speed of your web page is such an important aspect. Finding the perfect balance between heavy and light content ensures that your page loads fast without having to sacrifice any important information.
Keywords are vital to the search ranking of a website, so it is important to conduct keyword research to understand what exactly the audience of the website is searching for. Prepare the design remembering to allow enough text space above the fold to help search engines understand the page. Whenever it is natural to do so, use the keywords in headings, sentences, and links.
Links on a website and the words in that link (called anchor text) are what search engines focus on. It has become a bad practice to use “click here” and other generalized words for a link.
These days it is essential to use anchor text that tells the user exactly where they are going by following that link, for example, “on-site SEO practices” is more user-friendly than “read more”.
While designers can achieve lively animations and unique design with Adobe Flash, the technology is considered outdated and is not supported on numerous new devices. Search engines do not appreciate it either, as it appears as a large visual for them, preventing these machines from understanding the page. As a result, Flash pages rarely rank well in search engines.
It is important to realize that web design and SEO go hand in hand. Becoming a designer who has knowledge about SEO will put you above your competitors and other web design agencies as well as make you indispensable. The 8 things listed above will put you well on your way to becoming a well-versed professional in the field.