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Design with SEO in Mind

Design with SEO in Mind

SEO can’t be limited to keywords, meta tags and links.  SEO is a multi-layered strategy, and if you really want your site to soar in SEO rankings then you must approach your strategy from all angles. Hands down, one of the most important things you can do to put your SEO strategy as a priority is to start incorporating SEO elements into your website’s design.  

Why a Mobile Friendly Website?

At the most basic level, the need for a mobile friendly website has to do with the user experience.  If this were the only reason to have a mobile friendly site, we believe it would still be worth it.  Have you ever tried to access a website on your mobile device that wasn’t made for mobile?  Mostly like you ran into one, if not all, of these issues:

  • Small font size creating a constant pinch-and-zoom scenario
  • Videos that don’t load or music that doesn’t play
  • Broken links
  • Multiple links too close together, making it hard to click on the desired link
  • Slow loading times

These problems happen because viewing a site designed for desktop on a mobile device is like fitting a round peg into a square hole.  It’s elements are just not meant for mobile devices.  And when a user has to spend time waiting for the site to load, trying and failing to click on links, and pinching a zooming simply to read the text, almost guarantees that they will go to another site–most likely your competitor’s.  

Keeping your users happy means keeping them engaged with you and, most likely, determined to be your loyal customer.   

Google Algorithm Update

In 2015, Google updated their algorithm to favor mobilefriendly sites in their search ranking.  And soon, as is typical when Google makes a change in their algorithm, the need for a mobile-friendly site suddenly became a necessity.  In addition, at this point, it’s not enough to have a mobile friendly site; Google must recognize that it’s mobile friendly.  

Google considers three different types of mobile sites to be “mobile friendly”:

  • Responsive design
  • Dynamic Serving
  • Mobile-only sites

Responsive Design has one HTML and one URL across all devices, while Dynamic Serving has same URL but different HTML and Mobile-only has a separate HTML and URL.  Updating separate code or URLs takes extra time and effort on your part, that you probably don’t have.  Not only does Responsive Design have everything in one place, it is also Google’s preferred choice of the three mobile-friendly options.

We have many clients who think their site is mobile friendly, but may end up not meeting Google’s standards.  If you aren’t sure about your own website, run it through the Google Mobile-Friendly test.  And if you are interested in a deeper look at how your site is faring in other areas (blogging, social media, SEO and lead generation), we love Hubspot Website Grader Test.

How to Design Your Way Into SEO

If your SEO strategy doesn’t  include a mobile website, then it’s time to re-evaluate.  Working with a web designer or digital agency is your best chance to build the best SEO-focused website available to you. While DIY websites may be tempting, once you give up your creativity to conform to their prefabricated boxes, the juice usually isn’t worth the squeeze.

While the web designers may do the heavy lifting in terms of actual design and coding, it’s never a bad thing to educate yourself.  Here are a few things you can read up on so you can give creative input and feedback with your web design team:

  • Google Sizes and Spacing Recommendations: While Google may set the rules, they are very good at teaching us how to play by them.  By checking out their size and spacing recommendations for links and content, you can get a better idea of how this will effect your website content.  
  • Don’t use unnecessarily large images: Large images are fun, but how and where they are placed matters. Also, when large images slow down your load time, it’s time to re-think using them.  Ask yourself, “What purpose does this image serve?  Is there another way I can get this point across while using the image in a smaller size?”  Bringing these questions to your design team will open up the discussion for collaboration around the topic.
  • Make sure videos can load: If you have a video on your website, then it’s paramount it loads on a mobile device.  Videos are such a wonderful branding tool, and often sites are built around a compelling video.  If it doesn’t load though, users won’t get to know who you are and may become frustrated with your site.
  • Font choices matter:  Fonts tell alot about your brand, but they also matter in terms of spacing, links, and readability.  Take a look at the font that you are using and ask your design team if it makes sense for your website.  If it doesn’t, it may be time to dive into a branding overhaul.  

We believe that the best digital strategies are never siloed into one department.  Instead, they always work best when each part operates as part of an integrated whole. To this end, our website design always takes SEO into account, as we simultaneously consider content marketing and lead generation.  A website is only as amazing as its ability to support your other digital strategies.  

Randy TaylorDesign with SEO in Mind