Several factors make a site amazing. Engaging the user with pleasing looks and navigation is one of the most relevant, but memorable pages matter little if people can’t find them when searching on search engines. This is why anyone who knows how to combine SEO and web design will have a powerful digital asset.
When we invest in website development, we want it to be very presentable, with pleasing visuals and functional, simple and intuitive navigation.
This is all part of the concern to provide a good user experience, but can we reconcile this approach with SEO techniques ?
While there are several challenges in combining SEO and web design , this is a totally viable combination. This becomes clearer as we understand the importance of creating attractive pages for both people and searchers, and better understand design errors that affect search engine optimization.
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Why associate SEO and web design?
There are many arguments in favor of considering SEO and web design as allies in the creation of an extraordinary site. Check out 5 of the top reasons to keep both in harmony.
Most of the traffic usually comes from organic searches
According to a study by BrightEdge, a company that has a sophisticated SEO platform and other digital marketing solutions digital , on average, organic search accounts for 50.1% of website traffic [ 19459007].
This means that, as effective as a paid traffic strategy is, it is natural searches that will bring more visitors to the site in the long run . Therefore, we should see SEO as an excellent opportunity to optimize our pages to strengthen the channel most likely to attract prospects.
If your business already has a website, blog, or e-commerce for some time, check out their web analytics tool . Organic traffic is likely to be the largest visitor acquisition channel.
Website Appearance Reflects Company Commitment
When we go to a page where we notice carelessness with choice of layout , fonts, colors, images and other visuals, the impression is that that brand is not committed to providing a good experience. to visitors.
Therefore, it is essential to invest in a quality website with a design that is consistent with the values of the company and in balance with the characteristics of the persona .
Bad design drives users away
In addition to damaging brand reputation , a website with poor appearance and experience often has an immediate consequence on user behavior: It tends to leave that page.
It is worth remembering that this frustration is not only true for websites with a design that is lacking, but also for those with too many design elements .
Excessive features and much higher than desirable resolution images also make navigation difficult and increase the urge to click the back button.
Certain technologies don’t work well with search engines
When Flash was at its height, it allowed you to create websites with effects and animations that Web standards hardly made possible at the time.
The possibilities in terms of design were incredible, but this technology is not traceable to search engine robots, making it very difficult to index websites built like this.
Flash is one of the most notable examples, but it shows very well how using design-only technology can ruin the brand’s presence on search results pages.
Doing SEO while building a site avoids rework
Because SEO is an optimization, it is common for companies to leave this step later, when web design or even the entire site is ready.
It turns out that this requires a number of changes that could be avoided if SEO were part of the page building process.
What principles cannot be lacking in this combination?
Now, let’s see what are the essentials and essentials for creating an attractive website for both the persona and search engines .
1. Navigation and site structure
When we go to the supermarket, we find signs indicating Fruits and Vegetables, Beverages, Frozen, Hygiene, among others. If we go to the Hygiene section, for example, we will see the products separated by Deodorant, Soap, Toothpaste, Shampoo, and so on.
We can say that a website is organized in a similar way . We divided products or content into categories and subcategories, following a hierarchy. They are available in menus so that the user can advance according to what they are looking for.
That is, how easy it is to get to the grocery store’s desired product using departmental signs as a guideline for navigation, while dividing the establishment into sections and subsections – and choosing their names – is equivalent to the site structure. .
Let’s use the Amazon Brazil website as an example.
There is a global navigation menu, with options related to purchase (stores), your account, offers of the day. Within the Stores Menu, if we go to Books, we see more subcategories (All Books, Books on Sale, Top Sellers, etc.).
Clicking All Books brings you to a specific page with offers and a local menu where you can access titles by genre, author, or publisher.
Notice how Amazon was careful not to put all possible options in one menu. Navigation is clearly from a more general to a more specific category.
In addition to helping the user understand what the site has to offer and letting them go where they want, tiered and sublevel organization helps search engines understand the context and degree of importance between their pages.
Thus, values simplicity by avoiding elaborating elaborate menus and grouping their contents or products into an appropriate division of categories and subcategories. If you face difficulties in this process, the information architecture will be of great help.
2. Arrangement of the content
Content quality is already known to be one of the most important factors for Google’s algorithm. Therefore, value the information your site has to convey.
Keep in mind that, on the web, we vie for the user’s attention, which probably has several other tabs open besides its page. In this context, where every visit to your site can be considered a victory, we should focus on the content and not create distractions.
So always think of helping the reader find what they want by balancing text, visuals, and whitespace so that doesn’t leave content in the background .
A responsive design – one that has the ability to adapt to the size of a user’s device screen – is indispensable, especially with the growing use of mobile internet in the world. To give you an idea, mobile is already the main means of internet access in Brazil .
Because of this relevance, Google already considers the compatibility of pages with mobile devices as one of the ranking factors in its search engine.
So value the freedom of your visitors and always offer a pleasurable experience no matter if they prefer to visit your desktop site or other gadget.
4. Use of images
The visual appeal of a website is crucial in generating a connection between visitor and brand. In this sense, images are important allies to improve the appearance and complement the text content present on the page.
It turns out that search engines are not (yet) able to interpret what they have in the pictures. For this reason, in terms of SEO, you need to be careful to include a description in the images you decide to add. To do this, simply enter an alternate text using the alt text attribute.
Unfortunately, this is not the only concern we should have with images. As we will understand below, they are often the source of many errors that hinder SEO.
What web design errors most affect SEO?
Once we see good reasons for combining both elements and understand the pillars of this combination, let’s look at 10 web design errors that can ruin your brand positioning in search.
1. Forgetting to compress the images
Quality images are undoubtedly a significant part of good design. However, if they have a very high resolution, they may affect the loading speed of the site .
It is unlikely that a user will have the patience to wait for a page to open if it takes longer than a few seconds, especially if it accesses from a mobile device. Therefore, for Google , the site’s loading speed is a ranking factor.
Given this, it is important to pay attention to the size (in terms of dimensions and megabytes) of pictures so that they do not slow down pages. Always try to use a image compression tool before placing them on the site.
See the tool TinyPNG . In this example, she was able to compress an image by 75%!
2. Maintaining bad content
As much as content is not always associated with design, we must remember that there are aesthetic aspects that can hinder user engagement with it. Very large paragraphs and phrases, very small font, and difficult-to-read font color are characteristics that searchers can detect.
Notice in the following image how the words are the same.
Here’s how very large blocks of text, whole uppercase paragraphs, and a color without proper contrast make the experience so much worse.
The Web is full of scripts that help enhance websites with more dynamic elements or embed media from other services with the embed function . The problem is that requesting too many external resources can slow down loading, which we already know is detrimental to both the user experience and SEO.
With that in mind, use third party script calls sparingly. Analyze if they really are indispensable, or if other solutions can be used.
4. Make a significant part of the Flash site
It’s true that Flash can create amazing effects on your site, but remember that you need to have Adobe Flash Player installed on your device to view it.
Also, search engines don’t index content built using this technology alone.
Therefore, it is best to avoid using Flash for navigation and text content, or simply to choose other alternatives that follow Web standards.
5. Mute mobile users
We have already discussed the significant increase in tablet and smartphone connections, which indicates that the likelihood that most visitors to your site will come from these devices is very high.
If he is not prepared for these gadgets, it is almost certain that the person will leave the page.
As search engines consider whether the site is mobile-friendly or not to define its placement, it is worth investing in responsive design from an SEO standpoint as well.
6. Replacing important HTML elements with images
Creating awesome images and using them in place of important HTML elements such as heading tags may appeal to the eye, but it’s not going to work for SEO.
The tags H1, H2, and H3 highlight the degree of relevance of each part of your content and give more emphasis to the keyword on that page .
Using the example of our “SEO Blog” again, we noticed in the picture that there is an image with the title of the post, but still, the H1 tag with the same title was kept so as not to harm SEO.
7. Inserting a lot of text in images
We have already explained that search engines cannot interpret images the same way they are able to parse textual content – which is part of the page’s HTML code.
It is therefore a bad practice to have images consisting primarily of text rather than reproducing these passages with actual textual elements on the page.
While the alt text attribute may be useful in such cases, it is ideal to create complementary text or keep separate image and text . Another alternative would be to create a text overlay layer using CSS features.
See the example of the infographic “ How to gain a lot of Instagram followers: Discover with these 27 surefire tips ” from the Rock Blog. Instead of publishing art only, a supplementary text was written to expand each of the tips.
8. Creating overly sophisticated menus
We already know how relevant navigation is for users and searchers. So, nothing better than creating simple menus that follow the expected pattern of these elements on the Web (a vertical or horizontal unordered list, for example).
Navigation needs to be organized and never create confusion in your persona. So keep the balance. Going on the menu presentation, but avoid being too innovative.
The Rock Blog is a great example, with the Categories list in the top menu and the option for the user to access from the footer as well.
9. Use features that make it difficult to access content
When a user arrives at your site through a search engine like Google, the idea is that they find what they’re looking for, right? If we put pop-ups, warnings, ads, and other elements in front of the main content, we make it difficult to access.
Take the news site from the following image as an example. Notice how, when opening the main page, the space devoted to the information the reader really wants to see is very small given the amount of ads.
Searchers are smart enough to detect this kind of thing, which is reason to affect their positioning.
10. Disregarding Tests and Measurement of Results
The best way to tell if web design is negatively influencing SEO is to conduct tests and evaluate results.
An interesting measure is to include annotations in the analytics platform . Whenever significant changes in site design go live, record the date and monitor if there have been any significant changes in organic traffic .
It’s important to remember that a drop in visitor acquisition via organic search could be for other reasons, such as server issues or even changes to Google’s algorithm .
What tools help you see if SEO and web design are properly aligned?
Check out some tools that every web designer who wants to perfect their websites from the perspective of SEO should know.
The Screaming Frog is used to crawl a site, almost as search engine robots would do . Once installed on your computer, simply enter the URL and click Start to begin the process called crawling.
After the procedure, we can see information such as:
- page response time;
- heading tags;
- title tag ;
- meta description ;
- amount of images.
PageSpeed Insights is a Google tool that analyzes the speed of your page and based on that gives it a rating from 0 to 100.
Then offers a report with several recommendations for improving load time for both desktop and mobile.
Another useful feature of Google itself is the Mobile-Friendly Test , or mobile device compatibility test. After entering the URL, the tool examines the page and determines whether it is optimized for these devices or not .
If there are problems with this, the tool shows which points need improvement.
With all the suggestions we’ve seen so far, you already have a great foundation for making sure SEO and web design are well integrated. Remember that the user must come first.
When taking care of the technical and visual aspects that give him the best experience, his search positioning is only likely to improve.
Want to know more ways to succeed in organic research? So check out these 39 practical SEO tips to leverage your results !