Understanding the Fundamental Relationship Between Web Design and SEO

Understanding the Fundamental Relationship Between Web Design and SEO

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Are you aware of the widespread misconception regarding web design and SEO (search engine optimization)?

Quite a few people believe SEO relates to content keywords and the domain name only, but not the site itself. They might not see the website as more than a vehicle by which people access the terms and information they’ve searched for.

In fact, good, effective website design plays a very important role in the success of SEO. To find out more, keep reading. This article will explain how search engine optimization web design can work best for you and your business.

Website Structure

SEMrush

First, let’s talk about how a website is put together. This will make it easier to understand how SEO and keywords are integrated into website design. We’ll begin with website architecture.

Architecture

A website’s, “architecture” essentially means its internal structure and how it’s navigated. You might think of it as the logic underlying what you see on the screen when you access a given website. The architecture can only be inferred by users.

It’s pretty important, though. According to Clifford Chi, the architecture is “how your website’s structure can help users easily and quickly find information and drive conversions.”

It is common when discussing website architecture to use a filing cabinet as a metaphor for website architecture. Other analogies include a book’s table of contents and an organizational chart.

In the filing cabinet metaphor, the cabinet itself represents the website. File drawers are high-level categories. Folders are subcategories. And the files are individual pages.

Of course, some filing cabinets are much better organized than others. The same is true of websites. Users will find websites with poorly organized architecture difficult and frustrating to use. That, in turn, hurts its SEO potential.

Making the Website’s Structure SEO-Friendly

Here are some SEO web design suggestions we’ve gathered that should help you make your site SEO-friendly. They range from the obvious to the cleverly strategic.

Make the Site Easy for Users to Navigate

Making a website’s structure SEO-friendly has a lot to do with making it user-friendly. A poorly structured website is not conducive to good SEO results because it is confusing and frustrating to users.

Chi points out that, in sound website architecture, internal links make sense to users and direct them to pages that are relevant and make sense to them. Moreover, users should be able to access any of your website’s pages in 3-4 clicks.

Be Strategic in How You Locate Keywords

Most people think of website content as the primary “home” for keywords. And keywords do appear primarily as part of the content. That’s why content production (especially in the form of blog articles) is so much of what SEO companies do.

But there are numerous other places on the website where keywords can also be located: 

  • The title tag
  • Headline tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Meta keywords
  • Navigation
  • Title attribute on links
  • Breadcrumb trails
  • Footer links
  • URLs
  • File names
  • Internal links
  • Folder names

Remember, with SEO and website design, the search robots (spiders) are looking through all the text–including code along with words as they crawl.

Website Content

It won’t surprise you to know that this is the main reason people go to websites. However, you might find it interesting to know what all is considered content.

Domain Name (aka Domain SEO)

The domain name is part of both structure and content. It is part of the URL and thus part of the code that helps search engines (and other users) call up the page.

However, if it has been selected well, the domain name also summarizes the purpose of a site in a tight package of two or three words. The domain name extension should be part of this as well since it identifies the site’s specific category.

“It is worth taking some time to choose a memorable domain that represents your business ethos and correctly considers the technical implications of a domain extension.” These few words are critical to successful SEO and website design.

Pages

Of course, pages are what people think of first with websites. These constitute most–though not all–of the content. There are several types of web pages, as follow:

Landing Page

A landing page is “created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor ‘lands’ when they have clicked on a Google AdWords ad or similar.”

Much of the time, a home page will serve as a site’s landing page. However, there are significant differences between the two, including the target audience.

Home Page

While SEO advisor Stoney DeGeyter maintains that all pages on a website should be optimized; however, the home page warrants a great deal of attention in this regard. “The home page must provide a global view of what the website offers.”

The home page should lead visitors to product pages, but not showcase any given one of them. “When you type in the name of the company, the home page of that business should be more relevant than any page on a competitor’s website.”

About Us Page

DeGeyter explains that the About Us page offers a good opportunity to establish your unique identity among other, similar businesses. Examples he gives also show businesses as both innovative and down-to-earth.

“Any industry- or product-related keywords that are qualified with company, business, agency, firm, office, bureau, or similar types of keywords are ready-made fits for the About Us page.”

Contact Us Page

“When users visit your contact us page, they’re beginning a relationship with you. They want to know more about you, and your contact us page’s design and style will be part of their initial impression.”

Visitors to your contact page either literally want to contact you–which is a great opportunity to gather their information for mailing lists and so on. Or, they want to know more about you, including where you’re located. It doesn’t matter why.

This is a great opportunity to bring together SEO and web design. Many contact pages are bland and perfunctory, but this is where you have the opportunity to optimize by providing location information, including a map and photos.

Many websites include photos of key staff along with their contact information. This connects a person to a title. Plus,  short bio also makes a good context for keyword placement.

Product Category and Sub-Category Pages

These are very important for site navigation and make a natural home for keywords. Most significantly, they allow visitors to find what they’re looking for easily. A big plus is that they also get to see related products that are listed.

Thus, it’s clear that the page and its categories should be well-thought and functional. Page design is important here as well since these should be more than just lists with text-based links.

One tip is to put the same subcategory within multiple main categories as appropriate. That way, a visitor is sure to find what he is looking for–whether he realized it or not. The visitor is also more likely to remain on the site to browse.

Another great practice is to have a “What’s New” category. If your array of products is large enough, consider this for every category.

Product Detail Pages

Clear product photos with inviting context are key here. And remember, photos are great keyword anchors too. Text is also important. Keep it brief and pithy–just enough to capture features and benefits of the products.

FAQ Page

With this type of page, SEO can be expected to grow organically through the questions asked and the answers provided.

Blog Category and Tag Pages

Blog articles can contain a wealth of information, but going through them one-by-one is tedious and time-consuming.

Businesses that are conscientious–and mindful of SEO and web design principles– will use these pages to provide a search box and tags to fit their blog content. Not only will users appreciate this, what a great way to incorporate keywords!

And, Of Course, … Blog Posts

With the growing importance and prevalence of SEO as part of websites, blog posts are taking up an increasing percentage of their content.

Kristen Hicks lists the following reasons to answer the question “Does blogging help SEO?”

  • It keeps your website fresh and current.
  • It keeps people on your website longer.
  • It helps you target long-tail keywords.
  • It gives you opportunities for internal linking.
  • A quality blog gives other sites more reasons to link back to your site.
  • A blog helps you connect with your audience.

All of these support the continuation of excellent SEO website design.

Web Design and SEO

In many ways, website aesthetics and design go hand-in-hand with website content. A site’s overall “look” is comprised of words and images, as well as design elements.

Needless to say, everything on your website should look spectacular–no cutting corners anywhere. An effective design should make navigation second-nature to the user to the point where she doesn’t even need to think about clicking.

Everything also should support the objectives of SEO–though subtly.

Avoid cluttering any page, especially with a lot of obvious SEO keywords. If necessary, there are various techniques for obscuring keywords, especially ones that are not especially user-friendly (but are SEO-friendly).

Benj Arriola says that “Too many links in the screen can be overwhelming so drop-down menus, multiple hierarchy menus, accordion navigation, tabbed menus, slider menus, etc. are used to keep the page from appearing cluttered.”

If your business is looking for an SEO-optimized website, be sure to check out a professional website design firm such as IdeaZone.ca.

Final Recommendations: Website Development and SEO

Although there are many tips, hints, and “trade secrets” out there related to effective SEO, all that’s needed fits one or more of these categories, and that’s what we’ve discussed in this article.

You need to build your website in a way that gets search engines to crawl there and human users to find it, go there, and hang out for a while.

There are numerous tools available for checking your website’s overall effectiveness if you need some help. Just look online, and keep reading our blog for more tips.

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