SEO optimization starts with website design before any piece of content is written. The SEO-friendly design essentially means that your website should be made with both end users and search engines in mind. Here are four things every web designer should know about SEO optimization:
The Purpose of SEO-Friendly Design
Everything you do in website design will serve two purposes: to make the website easy to find (and therefore rank well), and to make it easy to navigate. To that end, there are a few things to keep in mind. Before you even start, you should ensure that you got the fundamentals covered.
- Set up your domain – make sure the domain name relates to the purpose of the business and website, and that any subdomains correctly point at the main site.
- Find good hosting – choose hosting that will make the website fast, situated where the audience is.
- Make sure your content can be indexed – your main content should be text-based to ensure more natural site crawling and indexation.
Create a Site Structure That’s Easy to Navigate
You’re creating a website with the end user in mind, so you need to make sure they can find their way around it. Three main things that help both the user and the search engines navigate your website:
- Categories – Major categories and subcategories help you keep content organized. A three-to-four level approach to content structuring helps indicate website context and communicate what it is about to users and search engines.
- Navigation – Navigation solidifies the communication of context by working with the structure, URLs, XML sitemaps, etc. Use navigation as a signpost to show users which parts of the website are most important.
- URLs – URLs with descriptive names and sensible paths help provide more of the context your users and search engines require. For example, “example.com/services/marketing” is a much better choice than “example.com/p8937/k1/93”, which doesn’t give any additional information.
Be Familiar with SEO Elements You Should Incorporate
- Keywords – Keyword targeting is the main “thing” of SEO, so you should add keywords to site hierarchy and structure. That way you’ll achieve a natural progression toward more refined search terms without a lot of effort.
- Tags – Title tags affect ranking, so they need to be on point. Incorporate keywords into them and keep them around 50-60 characters in length, but optimize them more for the user.
- Meta descriptions – They don’t affect ranking directly, but they’re what drives the users to click, so make sure each meta description is accurate to the contents of the page while still using keywords where it feels natural.
- Image SEO – Have an explicit, descriptive image name and alt text for all the images. Use the right physical and file size to improve loading times, and consider adding images to your XML sitemap.
Optimize for Mobile Friendliness
With mobile-first indexing fast approaching, it’s more important than ever to design mobile-friendly websites. There are a few mobile usability issues to watch out for: usage of flash (which often isn’t supported on mobile), poorly optimized viewport, small font size and keeping touch elements too close, among other things.
SEO-friendly website design makes it easy for you to structure and operate your website business. Designing websites with SEO in mind helps you hit your digital marketing goals, so start thinking of it more as an essential tool rather than a one-time band-aid for a struggling business.