As a web designer, you doubtless spend a lot of time staying abreast of technical design standards. This is important if you want your website to work well on modern browsers. However, there is another area you must familiarize yourself with, which is equally important to the success of the websites your build. This is SEO. To get you started, here are some designer-focused SEO tips you can implement.
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- Website Structure
Linked to information architecture (IA), website structure plays a vital role in how users and search engines interact with a website. From an SEO perspective, website structure creates a logical and practical approach to the information on the site, making it easy for search engines to parse this information and index it properly.
- Web Address
While as a designer you may not be responsible for the root address/domain, you do play a key role in how web pages under the domain are structured. In general, all web pages must have an address that appropriately describes the page, is written in plain language, is not abbreviated, and contains hyphens to makes it more readable.
Navigation always represents a big challenge for most designers, especially when building a site with multiple layers and pages. As this is the case, try and spend additional time determining how the navigation will work. When search engines land on a website, they first parse the navigation and use it to crawl the rest of the site. If the site has orphan pages (pages without a navigation link), search engines may skip this page altogether.
- Responsive Design
Mobile readiness is a ranking factor for mobile search. That alone means every web designer must integrate responsive design in the websites they build. To help you get this right, use the Google Mobile Mobile-Friendly Test. It provides an overall verdict on whether the page is mobile friendly and offers additional insights on issues related to how the website loads on mobile.
- Site Speed
Site speed is another ranking factor for websites, especially in mobile search. If a website is slow, Google will rank it lower in favor of faster websites. When designing and building a site, keep an eye on issues like scripts, images, and elements that add to load time. Google also has a tool for this.
- Meta Content
Meta content includes meta titles, headers, and the meta description. While this is a content aspect, as a designer, you should provision these elements in the websites your build. They play a significant role in how search results are displayed so integrating them into your designers will help the overall SEO of the website.
Large images, unoptimized images, images with no meta content all impact SEO negatively. When designing, integrate caching for large images, add meta content options to all images (alt tags) and name all images appropriately. This is helpful because search engines cannot “see” images. Instead, they use this metadata to understand what the image is.
Flash is one of those technologies that search engines simply cannot read. This means when they encounter flash on a page, they skip it. This hurts the page’s SEO. To prevent this, try as much as possible to avoid using Flash. Use alternatives like HTML5 that are readable by search engines.
While SEO has long been the responsibility of marketers post-development, technical SEO approaches are fast gaining prominence. As a designer, this places you in a unique position to build websites that are built for SEO success right from the code level.