Nowadays search engine optimisation and web design go hand in hand like two peas in a pod. Web design and organic search are so closely intertwined that focusing on one and leaving out the other ends up in poor search engine ranking for relevant keywords. Design affects user experience and search engine readability, both of which are crucial to SEO. Companies focusing on either design or digital marketing may see their web rankings drop every time search engines change their algorithm.
Beginners may find that it is never too late to learn SEO, no matter how invested you already are in the field of web design and development. In fact, give it a few weeks or months of practice and you will get the hang of the field. Heuristics may be in order to keep up with designers already well versed in SEO. Below is a list of basic yet useful SEO principles every designer should be aware of when designing websites:
1. Pay Attention to Header Tag Placement
Designers must take into account how each heading is placed and how many headings ought to be added on a page whenever they set up or rearrange a website’s elements. Note that headings observe a hierarchy. This makes websites easier to crawl and understand.
Such hierarchy is characterised by the following:
- H1 tag is the single most important header on each page of a website.
- H1 tag serves as the page headline and should contain key phrases that give a concise overview of a page.
- H2 and H3 tags are necessary to some extent, depending on the length of your web content; they function as sub-headers.
- Each page must only have one H1 tag so as not to confuse search engines.
- H2 and H3 tags can be used any number of times on a page, but no need to.
H1 tag must be present even in short pages like Contact Us and Application Form pages.
Some web designing services disregard the importance of header placement. Effective use of header tags has a positive impact on any SEO campaign. It encourages users to stay longer on your website and browse pages.
Headers give target audiences a clear understanding of what a website is about and the products and services it offers. Selective readers intimidated by lengthy content need not trouble themselves by going through each word. Headers will give them a clear overview.
Search engines do not recommend multiple H1 tags on a page because this confuses crawlers and your website may be indexed under irrelevant categories.
2. Optimise Meta Tags
Always include meta tags when developing a website. Absence of meta tags in a source code pushes search engines to pick up the first few lines of a page and create a snippet out of available content. On one hand, concise and well thought out meta titles and descriptions can positively impact your search results performance and website traffic.
Google sets a parameter on meta tags – between 50 and 60 characters for meta titles and maximum of 300 characters (updated to 320 as of December 2017) for meta descriptions. Make sure your browser title and meta description contain target keywords and phrases. If your focus is on the design of the website, work with an experienced copywriter to produce engaging meta tag content for your website or page.
Meta tag optimisation requires web designers and content marketers to make the most out of the limited snippet space provided by search engines. SEO specialists recommend a meta description length of not more than 160 characters since most readers dislike wordy content or content that beats around the bush.
Search engines truncate meta descriptions beyond 160 characters. If content is not engaging enough, or if at first glance users fail to understand what the website is about, then chances of inviting more clicks are low. On one hand, brief and concise sentences that fit into Google’s snippet box translate to better user interest and click-through rates.
3. Place Keywords in URLs
URLs containing target keywords help attract the right customers to your site provided none of the pages contain duplicate content. There are many ways to structure URLs for SEO. Such methods are not set in stone and may be customised to suit different online marketing campaigns.
To carry out an effective URL keyword placement strategy, web designers should take note of the following:
- Create a unique URL for each page; the same keywords under different URLs will be considered duplicate content.
- Main keyword must only be used once in the URL.
- Do not reuse or repurpose content and place it under different URLs because search engines can detect duplicates.
- Create a user friendly slug (a part of URL that connects readers to a specific page).
- Avoid using URL parameters.
4. Clean the Source Code
Clean, attractive and search engine friendly is the HTML is the bedrock of any healthy website. Messy, outdated or badly structured HTML codes are not recommended for websites doing SEO and looking for customers. Google determines which website structures are easy to crawl and advises developers to read through their developer blog or join their community. Paying attention to search engine demands, no matter how ambivalent, ensures that competitors will not leave you in the dust.
- Clean up HTML codes with these principles in mind:
- Use strict DOCTYPE when writing codes.
- If tables are necessary, do not code them; use images instead.
- Rectify indentation and spacing inconsistencies.
- Do not place CSS codes within your HTML source code (this makes it easier to change the design of different pages).
- Keep block elements outside of your inline codes.
- Streamline your <div> codes and do not go overboard with text wrapping.
How to know whether your source code is in line with accepted SEO and web design standards? Go to W3C’s website, access their validity tool, supply your web URL and wait for the results to load. W3C will let you know in detail what your site has done right and what needs improvement.
5. SEO for Web Designers
SEO is a subject not all web designers can discuss with confidence. Though the field has proven its longevity for more than a decade now, some web designers have yet to get acquainted with search engine marketing. However, for SEO, even knowledge of the basics can get you a long way. So stick to the basics – especially the ones outlined above – and you will soon find yourself contributing to SEO campaigns with your SEO friendly web designs.
Guest article written by: Lauren McLaren was born and raised in Australia. She is working as SEO strategist and blogger for Digital Muscle Limited, which is one of the best SEO company Sydney, Australia providing affordable SEO services for every Business. She’s hardworking, competent and trustworthy. Her role within the company is to design websites. In her spare time, she loves to read, cook and watch movies