When most people think about their site’s search engine optimization (SEO), they’re thinking about their copy, content, keywords, metadata and tags. In other words…words.
This is completely understandable! Using the correct language and terms in the right places is a huge factor in making sure your site is optimized properly. But that doesn’t mean that the design of your site doesn’t play an important role as well.
All the massaged copy in the world, peppered with the best, most relevant keywords you can come up with, will inevitably be hampered if your site is designed without SEO in mind.
Here, then, are 5 design tips for making your SEO even better.
Make All The Things Responsive
We live in a mobile world, and as such, your site must be 100% percent responsive. It’s not good enough for most of it to look good on mobile devices but have an element here or there that doesn’t. Every element of your site must work on small screens. Period.
Also, it’s not enough to rely on testing sites that rank your mobile optimization like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you need to actually put eyeballs on every page of your site yourself and make sure nothing looks out of place, everything is sized appropriately, and not pushing off the edge of the screen.
Make Sure It’s Usable
A cool looking design is fantastic, but it’s no good if it stops people from actually being able to use your site. If a visitor lands on your site and can’t immediately figure out where to go or how to take the action they came to the site for, then they will bounce away very quickly.
One of the primary culprits here is the main navigation. Perhaps you don’t have enough in your primary menu for people to access all of the various parts of your site, or perhaps you’ve gone for an out-of-the-box layout the places the nav in a hard-to-find place.
Even worse, you might have gone in the other direction and filled your menu with too many options, overloading your visitors with choices that detract from the action you want them to take.
Make sure your navigation and other critical parts of your site clearly provide people with a pathway through your content that is easy to navigate, makes sense, provides all important options, and doesn’t confuse or overwhelm them.
Make It Readable
Don’t let your ultra-hip design get in the way of people being able to actually read the content on the site. Your text needs to be large enough, have enough contrast with the background it sits upon, and use fonts that are easy to parse (ie, don’t use a decorative font for large blocks of text).
You’ll also want to make sure that you break up large blocks of text with things like headers, images and lists, as the eye gets very tired when confronted with a wall of text and nothing else.
It used to be that popups were everywhere. The moment you opened a site, boom, a big ol’ popup smack in the middle of your screen, obscuring all of the content you actually came for.
Thankfully, we’ve moved on from those days, and so has Google. They are actively penalizing sites that use popups which hide too much of the site content. While we recommend trying to avoid pop-ups that appear automatically entirely, if you must use one, make it as small as you can, and keep it as much to the side of the content as possible.
I’m Looking At You, Images
Everybody loves a beautiful image, but no one likes waiting for that image to load. In this age of high-pixel-density displays, it can be a little confusing to optimize your images, as it is often necessary to serve images at twice the size of their container in order to make them crisp on all screens.
So, instead of focusing on making your images physically smaller, you should work on getting their file sizes down by running them through a compression service like ImageOptim.
You can also build the site so that it serves large images to large displays, but switches to smaller ones when the image is displayed on a mobile screens, giving you the best of both worlds.
Finally, don’t put text in your images. Google’s robots can’t read any text that is laid into an image, and so you effectively remove any weight that text might have on your SEO. Instead, design the site so the text is placed over the image with code, and therefore remains readable to Google.
And there you have it! Follow these 5 tips, and you can be sure that your design isn’t stopping SEO from being the best it can be.