“A tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme.”
The tug of war between web design and SEO has been around for a long time. Hailing from the backend of the marketing world, it has been a matter of debate between the developers and the designers. Although, there is one person who gets in a word quite late in the process – an SEO professional.
Designers are focused on delivering an aesthetic website that represents the brand in all its glory. Developers strive towards writing flawless code to ensure seamless experiences. And our old friend SEO cares about serving all this on a silver platter to the audience that matters.
But, as it happens, form and function are more often than not at odds with each other. Once in a while, web designers go overboard and dish out a site that hurts your chances to rank up within the SERPs.
Let me tell you what big agencies like MintTwist already know –
The five practices that are a big no-no if you ever want to see your website ranked first on a search engine.
1. Using splash pages
An intro screen with a hero image and big product name sure looks aesthetic and modern but also works inversely towards your SEO. Entry pages sporting a single graphic and little relevant text signal the search engines that there is nothing but a big advertisement in place.
Websites that rank higher shift their focus to delivering value through content that their audience readily absorbs. Whether it be your landing pages, home page or blog, make sure each one of them includes a copy and sub-copy that speaks to your target readers’ sensibilities.
What’s more, is that you can keep altering the content within to see how your audience responds to a different style. This shall also help you leverage other forms of digital media.
2. Setting up a poor navigation
To be fair, both developers and designers are equally responsible for this one. The navigation forms the most crucial part of your website, leading the prospect from one element to another. When this journey is disrupted, you may see people leaving immediately.
In marketing terms, it is called having a high bounce rate because users “bounce off” to another website for the same information. Now search engines work towards delivering the best results for each query. A disgruntled prospect is a sure-fire way to get in their bad books.
Here are some navigational cues that should be avoided –
- Hamburger menus
- Dropdown navigational menus with no clickable main category
- Mega menus
- Filter-less search
3. Not optimizing for mobile search
Mobile search is when Google or Bing runs a query through a phone or tablet. While this may seem rather simple, the mechanics might leave you dazed. When designing a website, the layout needs to be mobile-friendly; that is to say, it must be responsive to different devices without losing any content and staying accessible on all fronts.
Google rolled out an algorithm in 2015 that demotes any website that doesn’t follow suit. To ensure that searchers find relevant results, the text must be readable, tap targets spaced freely, and all content should be playable.
A responsive web design shall increase your customer engagement and work towards a holistic experience that accentuates your brand value over time. To avoid any unnecessary rank drops, you can use the Mobile Friendly Test that tells you all about the dos and don’ts for your specific website.
4. Replacing text with images and animations
Given an option between putting a picture and 1000 words, choose the latter. Gone are the days when websites we filled with low-quality images and flash, replacing any real information.
A well-designed, SEO-optimized website finds success by delivering quality content that the user finds useful. With relevant content, the visitors keep exploring different sections to find what they are looking for.
When it comes to putting up the images, no one is telling you to work on the extreme ends. Find a balance between what’s appealing graphically and informationally. Adding focused content with complementing pictures on each page will work towards better SEO rankings. Plus, by explaining your points through both mediums, you can expect a better understanding from your audience.
5. Overloading with everything you have
I know you’re too excited to show off all that you have come up with. To add to this, designers sometimes bring out a ton of options that seem equally great. At this point, I would suggest you from saying, “Use it all.”
With excess resources at play, your page loading can take a hit. The typical time it takes a mobile page to load is 22 seconds. Here is the surprising part, if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, 50% of visitors choose to leave the site.
So, don’t make it harder than it is already. Be extremely selective about high-resolution imagery, plugins, animations and HD background videos. A smart way to deal with this is also by making sure that the essential elements load faster than the others, giving the users what they need from the get-go.
There is only one way out of this eternal war – A holistic approach.
Holistic SEO is considering all factors such as web design, code, content, graphics and experience to bring a site to life that stands true to the expectation of the search engines and the users.
By creating a unified team of experts, you could be looking at perpetual growth in the digital space. It is important to remember that this doesn’t guarantee an uncomplicated environment. But, with SEO professionals, web designers, and developers in one room, the implementation can be built from all corners of the spectrum.
Lastly, when creating a website from scratch, focus on what your target audience wants. Once you establish an authority in the market as someone who knows what they are doing, everything else shall follow eventually.