Your web design + SEO go hand in hand, kind of like cheese and pickle or gin and tonic. So it’s important to know how web design affects SEO so you can ensure your website design isn’t hindering your SEO efforts.
This post will talk you through the key web design elements which can affect your SEO and some steps you can take to improve them. Alternatively you can take these to your web designer to carry out the work for you. It’s so important you get this right if you want to rank on search engines, so I hope this post helps you with your strategy!
How Web Design Affects SEO & Why It Matters
Below I’m going to list the 5 biggest culprits that can slow down your SEO. Spoiler: They’re all controlled by your website design. But don’t panic, they’ve all got super quick fixes if you know the right place to look which is where I come in!
I would advise that you tackle these with caution if you’re not a web designer yourself. Particularly when making code related changes to your design, it may be necessary for SEO but it can seriously damage how your website functions if you’re unsure what you’re doing.
Alternatively, get in touch and we can work together to look at how web design affects SEO on your website and to adapt your web design to improve your SEO.
So you’ve have included your keywords in your website copy but you’re not getting any traffic from Google. What gives? It could be that your website design is not set up to use headings properly.
Headings are also known at H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 & H6 and a great way to structure your content for search engines.
For example, the name of this blog post is How Web Design Affects SEO. The post title at the top of this page is a H1 which tells Google what the main content of this page is about. Next will be H2, H3 and so on and Google will recognise their importance in order.
If your website design isn’t properly optimised for SEO by ensuring your page title and subsequent content are set to the right headings, you’re going to struggle to compete with a website that does have these properly implemented. This is a perfect example of how web design affects SEO.
The best way to check if you’ve got headings set correctly in your website design is with a Google Chrome plugin called SEO Meta in 1 Click which will give you a breakdown of how many headings are used on your page.
If you’re a WordPress user, I recommend Yoast SEO to give you a full analysis of each page and make suggestions for you to improve your copy right from your edit post/page screen.
It’s suuuuuuper trendy at the moment to have one huge image or video at the very top of your website to greet your website visitors and help visualise your business and I am here for it because it looks great. But it can have a serious impact on your site speed and SEO if you haven’t properly optimised them.
And as you’re here to learn about how web design affects SEO – I’m going to assume that matters to you more than your design!
The right image or video above the fold can work wonders for your website bounce and conversion rates but you need to make sure these aren’t having an impact on your SEO.
All of your images and videos should be properly optimised for SEO. They should be sized correctly, have the smallest file size possible without compromising quality and be correctly on your website. You may also find it best to completely remove elements like video from your website on mobile and replace it with a well optimised image.
This is an example of compromising between speed and design and how web design affects SEO.
Pssst! Most mobile browsers won’t auto play video anyway so your lovely video may not even get seen on mobile!
WordPress users can use a plugin like Smush to do a lot of this work for them. If you’re on another platform you may need to take a more manual approach. The ‘Save for Web’ feature on Photoshop is great for this.
One of the biggest issues I come across with images and how web design affects SEO is a huge image at the top of the page slowing the entire page down.
When sizing your images, ensure your width doesn’t go beyond the maximum width of your content area. For example, if it’s a full width image but your website content area is set to a maximum width of 1200px, your image should also be 1200px.
Mobile Friendly Web Design
This matters a whole lot more than you think. If your website is not properly optimised for mobile users then Google aren’t going to want to serve your content in their search results. Google use the mobile version of your website to test your site speed and overall usability.
So this is the version you need to focus on for your optimisation efforts.
Rather than opening up your site and testing it yourself, check your website using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to get a definitive answer on what Google says about how web design affects SEO on your website.
If your test comes back that your website isn’t mobile friendly then I recommend working with a web designer to properly optimise your website design for mobile users. Some of the tips in this post might help you to increase your score too. Images and video can be particularly bad on mobile friendly tests so keep an eye out for those!
If you’re looking to choose a new design for your website then I recommend running the demo version of the theme or template through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see how it performs “out of the box”. If it’s got a low score then it’s not the theme for you!
Minimum Word Counts
I talk a lot about minimum word counts when it comes to SEO because search engines place a higher value on long form content pieces like blog posts, articles and guides. This is why most people start a blog to increase their SEO reach.
You should have a minimum of 300 words on each page of your website. So if you’ve got a homepage that’s all images and no text, you’re doing it a huge disservice and you should increase it to at least 300 keywords. Even though this is copy based this is also an example of how web design affects SEO.
Equally don’t panic about this too much for pages like portfolios but just keep in mind that pages like that are unlikely to show up on search results so you need to drive traffic to those pages from pages that are optimised for SEO. If you want your portfolio to show up in Google searches you’ll need optimise the page with SEO in mind.
For your blog posts you should aim for a minimum word count of around 1,500 words. Some SEO experts recommend hitting around 2,400 words for best results but you shouldn’t sacrifice quality over quantity. Particularly with blog posts, it won’t increase your ranking if Google doesn’t think your content is of a high quality.
Another topic I talk about LOADS! I can not stress the importance of your website loading speed when it comes to SEO. If your website doesn’t load at all within 3 seconds then all of your SEO efforts will be for nothing. A sad but true reality of search engine optimisation and how web design affects SEO!
Site. Speed. Matters.
First of all, get yourself over to Pingdom and assess the damage. Tools like Pingdom are great as they offer recommendations for improvement and check based on your location. This matters because if your web host and yourself are in the UK then your speed will be best there. However some speed tests use US based servers only which will show a different result. It’s best to check your speed based on where your target audience is located.
Once you’ve got a good idea of how quickly your website is loading, I recommend taking these stats to a web designer who can help you make the changes needed to your design to improve your site speed. Your web designer should make suggestions on how web design affects SEO on your website and how to improve your speed without compromising too much.
Alternatively, you might find some of the tips above will help speed up your site and get you closer to the magic 3 seconds. You can also install a cache plugin like W3 Total Cache which will enable you to further speed up your site with technical SEO such as content delivery networks, HTML, jQuery and CSS minification, browser caching and more. Make sure you test your settings with W3 Total Cache as the wrong setting can break your website design.