For most people, the concept of web design conjures images of artists selecting fonts and colors and arranging elements on a webpage. Some recognize that it goes much deeper than that, though — that web design plays a crucial role in building a brand and moving online users through the sales funnel to generate income. But very few know that web design is becoming a major factor in search engine optimization (SEO).
It’s true. Web design has a considerable impact on the effectiveness of your SEO. It matters if you want to ensure that your web page delivers high quality and quantity of traffic from organic searches.
While SEO is usually associated with text — providing strong headlines, subheaders, and keywords that signal to users what they’ll find on a page — it also has a more technical side to it. SEO also deals with the quality of a web page and the user experience it offers. And that responsibility lies with web developers and web designers.
In this article, we’ll look at how web design matters for SEO and explore a few areas of web design that are critical for capturing web traffic for your brand.
Understanding What Search Engines Want
In recent years, Google has placed a lot of emphasis on website user experience. It makes sense — the search giant wants to feature pages that are helpful to its users. That way, they continue to use the service, support more ads, and make money for the company.
Ultimately, that means Google is looking beyond the content of a web page to evaluate the overall experience users have when they browse it. Is the web page what it says it is? How quickly does it load? Is it optimized for the device used in the search? Is everything easy to read, and do all the links work? Web designers play a key role in ensuring the answer to all these questions is “YES!”
5 Key Design Factors for SEO
Not all design matters for SEO, but certain key elements do. Here are five key web design factors that will make a big impact on your search engine performance.
Strive for Simple Navigation
This is probably the most important aspect of a web page that a designer can control. It has a direct effect on some of the most important SEO metrics, such as the bounce rate, engagement rate, average time spent on the page, and conversion rate.
Of course, these metrics are not only great for your SEO. They also have a direct bearing on the overall success of your business.
The key to easy navigation is simplicity, which is easier said than done. Simple menus, good use of white space, logical journeys from page to page, and an easy sales process are all factors. And they’re all areas where web designers play a key role and must make smart design decisions.
Lead With Mobile
Did you know that Google actually uses the mobile version of your website to index elements and give you a ranking? That’s how important mobile has become to SEO. So if you’re only designing for a desktop or laptop screen in 2023, you may need to find a new line of work.
Mobile is king, and your web design must reflect the fact that more than half of all internet traffic in the world originates from a mobile device. And that number is only going up.
Design for mobile first. When that’s optimized, move on to the desktop version of your website.
Accelerate Your Load Times
Speed has become a critical factor for search engines. When a page loads quickly from Google, it makes both your company and the search engine look good.
Yet, solving speed issues is a complex matter, as there are many factors at play. Is your hosting solution optimized? Are web pages being cached? Can you reduce your redirects? The list of technical issues to address goes on — and they all add up to influence the speed of your page.
Those subtle design elements matter when it comes to achieving a high search engine ranking. Ultimately, Google has set a target of 2.5 seconds of load time. The most important block of content must finish loading within that time frame, so that’s what you should be aiming for to maximize SEO.
Check out some other SEO tips from an earlier Orpheus blog post.
Ditch the Pop-Ups
Few things are more off-putting to a website visitor than being confronted with a pop-up screen asking for information before they’ve even had a look around. For many people, it’s just a signal to back up to the search engine results and try a different page.
When that happens, it lowers your average time on page. As the name suggests, that’s a metric that measures how long visitors spend on your webpage. The global benchmark for good average time on page is 52 seconds, although many B2B sites have averages of around 82 seconds. Averages also vary by industry, browsing device, and more. But the bottom line is this: The longer a user spends on a web page, the better that page will rank with Google.
One way to improve your on-page average time is by ditching interrupting pop-ups that load first and drive traffic away. If you do need to use them, then consider a pop-up that appears as a user exits or makes a subtle appearance as they scroll deeper into your content.
Take Your Images Seriously
Images play an important role on your web page, but you need to treat them carefully. Great photos and illustrations should increase the average on-page time of a user, but they may also slow down your load times. Strike the right balance by carefully laying out your web page so the images you’ve selected only add to the story you’re telling, and being sure to compress images so they load quickly.
Search engines also require alt text to properly understand an image. If you don’t categorize your images using descriptive and rich keyword text, you’re missing a golden SEO opportunity.
Your Vision + Our Designers = SEO Success
Design is at the heart of what we do at Orpheus. Our talented designers work closely with clients to generate effective design ideas and concepts. Once approved, we turn these ideas into top-notch wireframes and full-fidelity mockups that showcase the most important features on a page — all to ensure your website gets the attention it deserves.
Reach out today and discover exactly how Orpheus can turbocharge your website’s search engine performance.