When you are launching a new website, or just updating your design, it is natural to focus your attention on stellar design and User Experience (UX). So, it is extremely important to be aware of how these decisions will impact your website’s SEO.
After all, a stellar site isn’t worth much if no one can find it.
If you have been keeping up with either UX or SEO then you probably know by now that they go hand in hand. So you may be scratching your head wondering how you could possibly damage your SEO by focusing on UX. The truth is, there are plenty of cases of terrifically animated website designs which negatively impact a website’s SEO.
Design Your Site for Users, But Prepare Your Site for Search Engine Spiders
It is crucial to be objective enough during the design phase to make the appropriate decisions to set a solid SEO foundation for your website. A beautiful website is simply not the end of the story, or at least you should hope that the story goes on and on introducing many new website visitors all the way.
As web design has gotten more complex, many designers are specifically educated on design and not so much on SEO. In fact they often times must work alongside an SEO, and if working on their own would ignore SEO completely because they feel it narrows their artistic ability. The perfect balance is achieved with SEOs and designers work together to meet the needs of users and search engines simultaneously with creative SEO and UX design solutions.
If you have ever worked on a website through the redesign process then you have seen how SEO can be impacted. Google Analytics reports often times report a downward trend in organic search traffic. This is because old webpages are being re-indexed lower, and sometimes removed from search results completely, while new webpages are just getting crawled and indexed for the first time. Monitoring this impact to search traffic and addressing issues immediately is important, but even better is looking out ahead of time to avoid big downward trends in your search traffic.
5 Common Web Design Mistakes, and 5 Simple SEO Solutions
So, here are 5 common web design flaws you can plan to keep out of your next design to avoid letting your website drop in the rankings from damaged SEO.
1 Poor Site Navigation Is Bad for Users and Crawlers
Internal linking is very important for search engine spiders to be able to crawl and index your website properly. A creative web design neglecting navigational standards by not including proper header and footer navigation’s can result in poor indexation of your webpages and leave your website ranking on page 50 of Google. It is essential to organize your content and structure your menu navigation accordingly, so that you can signal to Google and users where your content is and what it is about.
Recommendation: Read KissMetrics post on common website navigation mistakes and plan yours accordingly as to not make these mistakes!
2 Overuse of Images vs. Important Elements
Use graphics with caution. Although they look pretty, they shouldn’t be used to replace key elements of a webpage such as header tags and navigation. I see a lot of websites that use images to replace a text navigation, and this can be detrimental for your rankings. I also see a lot of webpages that don’t have a page header, but instead a large graphic. Again, your main content pages absolutely need keyword rich headers and titles in order to rank competitively.
Recommendation: Use images with care, keep them within your content, don’t make them your only content. For cool navigation use CSS text over image techniques to spice up your graphic design while keeping some nice keyword rich text in the navigation links for search engine spiders to read.
3 Heavy Use of Flash Content That Is Devalued
Think flash is cool? Well search engines don’t they hate it, they cannot decipher anything of value from it. Even though you may be able to create a cool marketing message using flash animation, a search engine will not be able to view your animation and understand your message, so it will leave your site without knowing what niche you are in or which keywords to index your webpages for.
Recommendation: Use minimal flash and try not to use it as your main content. Use it in conjunction with text, images, and video that can all be crawled and indexed by search engine spiders.
4 Poor Use of Pop-Ups That Make Your Visitors Bounce And Detour Crawlers
Hate pop-ups? We all do. Statistically pop-ups make your visitors dislike your website and bounce. They should however be strategically used on specific webpages at the appropriate times to offer valuable assets to your audience. BUT this needs to be approached with caution. Because, using pop-ups that make your visitors bounce, will also make search engine spiders bounce, resulting in poor search engine rankings.
Recommendation: Don’t use pop-ups on your homepage. Use them on your primary landing pages and set them to only come up after the user has scrolled through and read at least 50% of your content.
5 Splash Pages Without Content or Links Are Bad For Crawlers
Graphically appealing splash pages can seem like a cool feature to your website, but they can actually detour search engine spiders from properly crawling and indexing your content. These pages often utilize flash, Java applets, and other non-textual content that is ignored or even devalued by search engines. A homepage lacking content and a well laid out navigation will detour spiders from crawling your content resulting in poor indexation of your entire website.
Recommendation: Avoid splash pages altogether, but if you must have one, include at least 400 words of keyword targeted text on the splash page as well as a link to your main landing page containing a navigation menu of your website.
So, there you go, 5 of the most common and dangerous web design techniques for your SEO. Avoid making these common mistakes and get a leg up on your competitors in the search engine rankings. Taking the time to create a stellar web design while also incorporating a good foundation for your SEO is crucial, it will save you a lot of headache and lost traffic throughout the life of your website.
Looking for help with your SEO campaign and optimizing your website? We would love to help, and you can get started with a free site audit.
So, how is your website redesign going? Are you making these common mistakes or are you planning for SEO now? Let me know in the comments below!