Companies are always looking for new ways how they can attract customers to their business and stay afloat. Marketing strategies come in a wide array of forms, from attending trade shows and handing out brochures and business cards to filming catchy TV and radio commercials all the way to investing in social media and email marketing. One method that companies have also started making the most of is search engine optimization (SEO).
While SEO has many benefits including higher conversion rates, better user experience, and boosted brand credibility, it is important that it is implemented in the right way. When businesses hire a professional to create a website for their company or when they try to do it on their own, search engine optimization is usually not the first thing on the designers’ mind as they typically focus on making the website engaging and full of content. What is more, the person designing the website might not have any experience with SEO at all. Search engine optimization is constantly evolving and even after mastering the main aspects of the practice, it’s vital that experts in the field constantly work on improving their skills. With that in mind, website designers might not be familiar with what is essential for SEO.
If a company wants a website that will perform optimally and look attractive, they want to look for a skilled team that consists of both designers and SEO professionals that will collaborate and create a website of the highest quality. That way, the visitors and potential customers will be welcomed with a visually appealing and functional website and be encouraged to take action.
Here are the ways how website designers and programmers can improve SEO together.
Pages can load faster
First of all, everyone can agree that all users want a website that is fast. Page speed is one of the crucial components that can make or break a website as waiting more than three seconds will very likely result in users leaving the website and never looking back. Therefore, designers and programmers have to take certain steps in order to improve the speed of the website.
In terms of designers, they can start by cutting down on using numerous images and animations that are quite complex. It is especially important to do this at the top of a page. While competent developers can defer the loading of the images in the lower part of the screen, the top part needs to load immediately. Moreover, the image weight should also be decreased. Instead of an image that is 6000px wide, designers can opt for 1000px, for instance. Then, SVG is a great format to use as it is lightweight, easy to scale, and modifiable. Opting for lazy or progressive loading will also provide visitors with a basic view of the page while waiting for the rest to load.
On the other hand, the developers have to remember to use the images that were adapted for the device size. If an image that was optimized for desktop is loaded on mobile, it will be too big. Furthermore, alt text cannot be overlooked in order for the screen readers to find the website more accessible.
The website can be more responsive
Having a responsive website is a must in this mobile-first world. As more and more people use their mobile phones to browse the internet, companies cannot afford to overlook making their website mobile-friendly. Despite Google announcing a few years back that it would focus on mobile, millions of pages are still not responsive.
In many cases, designers neglect mobile design although the focus should be put on mobile-first. It is much easier to optimize a mobile-friendly website for other devices than vice versa. If the designers don’t have a clear idea of the mobile version, the developers can have a hard time creating the website. With that in mind, it’s always good to specify which elements are essential for the mobile version, which fonts should be used, if the content order needs changing, and so on.
On the other hand, developers are responsible for the user experience and cannot forget about the issue of size. The mobile version needs bigger CTAs and other buttons as it can be difficult to tap a tiny sign with a finger. Moreover, developers need to think about readability and ensure that users don’t have to use zoom to be able to see the content. Popups should also be avoided or at least improved so that they don’t annoy the visitors.
The structure can be clearer
For users to remain on the website long enough to perform the wanted action, the website needs a clear structure. If visitors cannot understand the website quickly, they will not stick around. They expect a sublime user experience and the way to achieving that lies in a clear and readable structure. No one wants to see huge blocks of text; nowadays, it’s all about skimming the text and pulling out the most important aspects of it.
In addition to appearing more welcoming to visitors, a clear structure is also crucial for search engine optimization. If Google and other search engines notice that the website is appealing to users, they will rank it higher than those with poor click-through rates. Moreover, if a website is properly structured, it will have sitelinks as well, which are a huge advantage when it comes to SEO. Lastly, as crawlers look to index the contents of websites, a website should be properly structured so that web crawlers like Googlebot can access and rank it higher on SERPs.
To have a properly structured website, designers and programmers can work together to plan out the website’s layout and create a hierarchy. This is why it’s important to find a company that offers quality web design services as well as SEO services. Once there is a hierarchy in place, other aspects of the structure can be tackled. For example, the page’s main subject should be the main header tag, H1. Then, while subheadings (from H2 to H6) are optional, it’s best to use them to properly organize the website. Other things to keep in mind include making links immediately visible by adding enough contrast and underlining the anchors as well as avoiding putting the code in div tags as HTML5 provides web crawlers with some valuable information.
The website’s navigation can be improved
Besides having a clear structure, a website also needs logical navigation. For the visitors to be able to reach the pages they need, the navigation has to lead them where they want to go. If users can’t see the pages that require them to take action, companies can lose valuable customers.
With that in mind, designers and programmers should put plenty of effort into creating navigation that is simple. This approach will not only benefit the company and the website’s visitors but will also be good for SEO. Distinct categories and clearly related subcategories work best. Moreover, it’s recommended to be descriptive in links and not simply name a category ‘products’, for example. Additionally, the shallow depth navigation structure is something to aim for as more content is always favoured in modern SEO.
For instance, many SEO specialists agree that dropdown navigational elements are interfering with search engine optimization as these don’t link to a main category and force visitors to pick a subcategory instead. Furthermore, they also suggest avoiding accordion and hamburger navigation menus. Due to issues like these, a collaboration between designers and programmers can be of vital importance for creating a functional website that makes the most of SEO.
Then, in certain cases, as simple as the navigation is, users will not be able to find what they are looking for. That is why adding a search bar is essential. In addition, having filters that can narrow down the search is also useful. What is more, accessibility is another thing that developers that are building the navigation need to pay attention to. Aria labels, nav tags, and similar solutions are often overlooked but can play a big role.
The readability can be better
Readability is a big factor when it comes to making a great first impression. As mentioned earlier, no one wants to see a big block of text. That means that the content needs to be divided into sections with certain parts even highlighted in bold. Then, whitespace is another aspect that should not be disregarded. Fortunately, quality designers know how to properly space everything in order to appeal to users.
On the other hand, readability is not enough to boost SEO efforts so websites also want to have a good text-to-HTML ratio. Anywhere between 25 and 70 percent can work, depending on the site.
Finally, many users prefer when inputs have labels. For example, assistive technology like screen readers relies on labels to make using a website easier. Having labels can help individuals with impaired sight use forms. If adding labels is not possible for some reason, aria labels can also indicate the purpose of each input.
As SEO can play a big role in a company’s marketing endeavours, they want to ensure they are getting the biggest bang for their buck. If designers and programmers want to provide their customers with the best service possible, they have to collaborate in order to improve search engine optimization.