Saturday, 04 October 2014 14:52

Why Design Your Website With SEO In Mind

Typically, when you begin to develop a website, you bring in a web developer and a designer. SEO experts come after – during your content development or maybe after so many months more – as if search engine optimisation is just an after-thought.

This shouldn't be the case. Your SEO is important even at the start of your website project. In fact, the best websites are created with SEO experts on board from the beginning. Good websites incorporate SEO tenets that insure crawl efficiency, good engaging content, and adherence to search engine content quality and optimisation guidelines.

With your SEO expert right there from the start, you are assured that SEO requisites are implemented, not just in the content, but in the design too. Here are a few things to look out for – your SEO should be able to guide you through this.

Stay Away From Code Bloat
“Code bloat” refers to having unnecessary code in your webpages. This compounds your page, and makes their file size bigger than necessary. This then slows down your page's loading time; and affects your search engine ranking and conversion.

Typically, your developer will use HTML or CSS to code the frontend of your website. With unnecessary code, your page loads longer, which has repercussions.

When you keep your codes simple, you minimise the possibility of coding errors that lead to crawling issues. It also ensures that your page loads correctly on all browsers.

A big consideration in search engine optimisation is site conversion. Here, you consider how many of the people who find your website actually stay long enough to know about what you offer. Ultimately, you want them to click on your signup link and buy whatever you're selling. Loading time is one of the key determinants here.

Your SEO will tell you – and perhaps, your web developer – that you need to keep your codes clean. The simpler your coding is, the better it works.

Design with Consistency in Mind
One of the culprits in code bloat is the piling up of design elements, which is typical in WYSIWYG website creation software. If you prefer to use this software to edit your webpages, you or your web developer should look at the output codes and clean them up.

Ideally, your website should be using one template for all your webpages. The style of these pages are coded into one stylesheet. And any style updates should be made here, and not separately on the actual pages. Content updates should be just that – meta and body text, and accompanying images.

Consistency not only minimises code bloating. It also makes your website more user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Test for Site Speed
Keep it fast. Search engine spiders also assess webpage based on their loading speed. It is part of the ranking algorithms of search engines like Google.

We've already discussed how your coding affects site speed. You also need to consider your host location and the size of your images. If possible, refrain from using images. Instead, use CSS3.

Google has a tool to help you analyse your website's speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

This tool will help you pinpoint the fixes that you need to implement so that your website loads faster.

Implement Responsive Design
When designing your website, you should consider the different devices used by your audience. It is already a requisite to have a mobile version of your website. This is for people who use smartphones and tablets to view websites.

You can't just let the desktop design load for mobile devices. There is a good chance that your website won't look the way you want it to. Some elements might not even function properly when viewed on mobile devices. And again, ranking algorithms account for your websites responsiveness to different devices, especially now that iPads, smartphones and free wi-fi seem to be everywhere.

Of course, as in desktop designs, you should also test the loading speed of your mobile design. The Google speed tester can also be used for this.

Navigation and Usability
How your audience ends up using your website is also important in implementing good SEO on your pages. This is where navigation and usability come in.

Make sure that you have a shallow file structure. Pages that are buried too deep within file folders are deemed less important by search engine spiders.

To address user-friendliness, you need to map your website optimally. Make sure that the most important links are included in the main navigation menu. Then, decide what needs to be included in the sub-menu – which pages do you want your users to have easy access to.

It is important to create clear and easy-to-understand navigation menus. If you confuse your online audience because of how your site is mapped, then you might just lose them as clients.

And, it's not just customers that you lose. Search engine spiders can run into crawling issues if you have a confusing site structure and mapping.

Content Remains King
Your content remains a crucial component of your search engine optimisation. So, consider it from the start, alongside planning your site's design. Know the content pages that you need to include, such as product pages and your company's profile. Make sure to have a blog too. Blogs not only keep your content fresh and updated. It is also a way to engage your audience and keep them coming to your website.

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