In today’s competitive digital environment, knowing the answer to “What is SEO?” and understanding how to build your website to be SEO-friendly are two completely different things.
The first answer may lead you to packing your blogs and pages with keywords that don’t always lead to a great User Experience on your website. The other ensures that people who reach your website organically get the experience their search engines promised them.
As a web design and SEO agency, we’re interested in giving your site visitors a worthwhile experience by matching their questions and issues to solid answers on a website where they’ll want to stay parked for a while.
Below are a few of our tactics to achieve this, along with some ways to optimize your website that you’ve already worked so hard on building.
Why Is SEO-Friendly Web Design Important?
It’s easy to perceive Google and other search engines as strict officers of the world wide web when it’s the other way around; they’re the Robin Hoods. They notice when your website isn’t satisfying the public and, as a result, may punish you for it with a lower ranking.
Today, most search engines—and especially Google—are checking the following:
- Time spent on your page(s)
- Whether your website is optimized or not for mobile
- How long it takes pages to load
- How many other websites link to your pages (called “backlinking”)
If you satisfy your users first, you shouldn’t worry about satisfying Google. All the work is done for you already.
What Are Some SEO Best Practices for My Website?
There are a few tried-and-true SEO methods most web developers and SEO experts use to ensure they’re striking a balance between creating a website for humans and one accessible and indexable by search engines. We’ll open the vault on a few of their secrets here so you can become an expert at web design with SEO in mind.
Unlock Your Inner Architect
We believe search engines would be fans of modern architecture; they seem to like looking at simple yet elegant objects and in an order that makes sense.
If you step back and look at your site architecture and see that pages link together like the order of succession in the U.K. royal family, you’re likely frustrating search engines everywhere. So, instead, try a more Brady Bunch style approach using simple parent and child linking across a limited number of pages. (Hey, wasn’t Mike Brady an architect?)
Keep Everything Out in the Open
Text and copy are a search engine’s best friend, so don’t hide potential keyword goldmines behind expandable menus or multimedia (videos, audio, etc.). While this may keep your website looking cleaner, these pieces will stay in the shadows when Google comes around.
Instead, work with a professional web designer on creating a polished menu display or providing transcripts for videos and audio in a seamless manner. (Helpful hack: You can link to off-menu PDF transcripts—just make sure they have the ‘noindex’ tag removed so they’re available for search engine crawling.)
Remember the 3 “No”s for Content Mastery
Just say “no” to messy URLs, unloved page titles, and large text dumps on your website. It’s likely your competition already has (or, if they haven’t, this is a great chance to surpass them!)
Each time you post a new page or blog, take advantage of the tools your web hosting service gives you to provide descriptive URLs and page titles that search engines love. For example, instead of www.website.com/123#45$67&8.html, try www.website.com/cool-new-blog.html. And instead of leaving ‘Home’ or ‘Contact Us’ as your titles, go with your company’s name and some of your most important target keywords.
Hint: Check out what we’re using throughout our website for a few examples of this…
As for your on-page content, it’s relatively simple. What would you rather read (especially on your mobile device): a brand’s attempt at the next Leo Tolstoy novel or something that’s broke up into easily scannable headers, lists, and shorter paragraphs? Let’s just say, Google isn’t a big fan of the Russian masters.
Use Alt Text Liberally: This may be the simplest thing you can do for search engine indexing that won’t interfere with your users’ experience. When uploading a new image to your site, provide a well thought-out filename and some descriptive text that hangs out behind the scenes. Doing this willmakes it easier for a search engine to find some additional keywords while crawling the web and start ranking you higher right off the bat.
More Questions to Ask Your SEO Agency
Suppose you’re already using a digital marketing agency to do most of the SEO heavy lifting for you. In that case, there are a few questions you could ask to ensure you’re separating the experts from the imposters.
Here are 3 of the more important ones we think you should ask your web design and SEO agency:
1. What SEO methods will you use to improve my search engine rankings?
If the agency, partner, or freelancer you’ve hired doesn’t use the terms ‘user experience’, ‘user friendliness’, ‘usability’, or any other related terms, consider poking them more about it. Anyone can stuff a page full of keywords or uncover broken pages and duplicate content, but if they don’t have a holistic, overarching strategy to build a both a user and SEO-friendly website for you, they may end up doing more harm than good.
2. What do you consider to be a successful SEO strategy?
Again, if you’re working with someone who promises more organic traffic but doesn’t seem concerned with how long that traffic on your site, it’s best to press them further.
Many businesses—and perhaps some of your competitors—have become far more concerned about quantity over quality, leading to flawed SEO priorities from agencies or vendors who don’t have a full grasp on the bigger picture.
Building a quality website and running continual testing on it will unlock more powerful SEO tools like backlinking from other sites; however, it’s important to keep in mind that these strategies will likely require a longer roadmap.
3. Who else do you rely on for an SEO-friendly website?
No quality SEO expert works alone. Instead, they’ll pull in members from the web development team, the content team, and other subject matter experts within the agency to ensure everyone’s on board with optimizing your website.
With their powers combined, you’ll get everything from beautifully designed menus, thoughtful page architecture, and well-constructed blogs filled with strategic keywords, page titles, and URLs.
Choose Brandography for a More SEO-friendly Website
By now, you should know that asking someone “How can I improve my SEO?” is about as useless as asking, “How do I design a website?” since neither should ever be answered in a vacuum. So, instead, ask yourself—or a digital marketing agency like ours—“How can I improve my website using SEO?”
We hope we’ve answered that question for you here. If you’ve got a few more lingering, consider visiting our blog page at your leisure or reaching out to us to start a discussion on strategy for your SEO, UX design, and long-term website management.