Web Design vs. SEO

As a web designer, the first priority is to create for clients a website they like the look of. Web design is all about elevating bland information on a screen into something aesthetically delightful and intuitively recognizable. It’s also about communicating an idea with others.
So, what happens when the message we’re trying to communicate to others must first pass through the unrelenting eye of a robot? That robot cannot compute the value of aesthetics. It can only operate off of its limited algorithm. This is where SEO or search engine optimization comes in. No matter what Hollywood tells us, robots aren’t the enemy. Just like us, robots are on a mission to contribute value to web users.

What is SEO Anyway?

SEO is the strategy of developing and improving your website so it ranks highly on search engine result pages, preferably on the first page of results. Research tells us that at least 75% of searchers never scroll past page 1 on Google. This means the website develop has to be on the first page in order to even have a chance.

Is SEO Important?

The short answer is yes.
The long answer? Still yes, because it should be important to you! True the financial investment is greater than if you just build a site, and you can’t really “see” it but according to research, over 571 websites are created every second and with all of those websites, your website has the high probability of being lost forever in the abyss known as “Beyond Page 1 of Google”, if it’s not optimized.  There’s no point in spending money creating a site if it ends up on page 3 of Google.

So What Do You Do?

Even though you want your website to look good, in order for it to also perform well it needs to be optimized.  When your web designer, whether it’s me or someone else, tells you you need to invest in SEO as part of your website project, you should listen. Otherwise see you in the abyss (or not). Here’s 5 SEO practices I believe you should be aware of when your site is being optimized:

1. Site Structure

When it comes to SEO, the structure of your website is one of the most important factors. Site structure is all about how your web pages link together. Search engine crawlers judge your site’s value based on the way its set up. File hierarchy and site maps play crucial roles in whether or not you get a high ranking page.
If you want to be found by the majority of visitors searching for your associated keyword, nothing will get you there and keep you there faster than a logical layout that’s easy to crawl. Remember, if the robots are happy, everyone’s happy.

2. Clear & Concise Navigation

Along with logical flow, navigation must be a top priority for any website to be optimized for search engines.
For navigation, shallow is better. With a shallow architecture, users are able to access any page in as few links as possible. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Navigation should be simple and short (eight options or less), and it should be usable (I.e. each item is clickable).

3. Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Each page should have a clear title as well as a meta description which is the little snippet on the search page that provides an overview of what your page is about. The title and the description should complement each other as this is your opportunity to entice visitors to click your link. It’s also a way to get noticed for your keyword, because Google scans and highlights user-searched keywords in your meta description.

4. Content

I know it’s a cliché, but content IS king. Gone are the days of content stuffing and invisible text. These days, robots are smart enough to know what sounds right.
If you have a blog (which I strongly recommend), it’s important to take the time to craft content that will bring value to your site. Oh and make sure your images have alt text!

5. Site Speed

Research shows that 40% of visitors will abandon a website that takes 3 seconds to load. That’s the time it took for you to read this sentence. I know that you want to impress visitor with a really cool design, but if almost half of new visitors don’t stick around to see it, does it even matter?
Slow speed also negatively impacts SEO. Since 2010, Google has admitted that load speed is one of the top ways they determine page ranking. Although we’re not exactly privy on what search engine robots classify as fast and slow, we do know it’s important to optimize your backend with a logical site structure.

Something Extra – Parallax and SEO

Yes, it’s trendy to have a one page website and there are many fantastic benefits about parallax. It’s pretty and perfect for guiding visitors through a chronological series of information.
However, the dark side of parallax websites is keyword dilution.  With parallax, since everything’s on one page the opportunity to highlight a keyword for each individual topic is lost. Instead it all gets meshed together and search bots don’t know what’s most important.
Additionally, inbound links can only link to your main URL. There’s not a lot of link traction with a one page site.
My suggestion would be, instead of relying on a parallax only website, keep your homepage parallax and create multiple internal pages for secondary information using traditional linking for pages like your About, Contact, and Portfolio pages.
Contact us about optimizing your website.
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