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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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SEO and web design: Analyzing the relationship between the former and the latter

 

Let me tell you a real-life story.

Two travel photographers decided to build a website for their portfolios.

So, they both hired a web design company.

Photographer A was vast in the knowledge of SEO. So he compressed his content before forwarding them to the designer.  He knew that image sizes mattered to page speed. And page speed mattered to SEO.

But photographer B wasn't much of an SEO person. So, he sent the photos as taken with his digital camera.

Once their sites were live, the two photographers thought to check where they ranked on the SERPs.

Photographer A found his site on the 3rd page of the SERPs (not bad for a new site).

In contrast, photographer B found his on the last entry of the 10th page.

If only I had known, he muttered.

Do you know what caused the difference in their results?

One adopted good SEO practice in his site’s design. The other didn’t.

 

The evolution of search engines and the relevance of user experience

In the beginning, search engines were only concerned about showing searchers the best websites that answered their questions.

They didn't care much about the experience searchers got on the site they're directing them.

As such, the most important metrics for ranking websites on the SERPs (search engine result pages) were keywords and content.

Today, search engines have evolved beyond this.

Yes, they still display the best websites offering the solutions/answers searchers are looking for.

But beyond this, they now consider the user experience on offer on a website before directing searchers there.

In other words, they look at things like:

  1. How easy it is to navigate the site
  2. How fast the site loads
  3. How comprehensible the contents are
  4. What the site’s bounce rate is (i.e., percentage of people who enter the site and then leave (bounce) rather than continuing to view other pages within the site)
  5. Whether or not the site is mobile responsive (i.e., easily accessible and navigable on mobile).
  6. The site's average on-page time is (i.e., what is the average number of seconds or minutes searchers spend on your page).

 

How web design helps to meet the latest trends

You don’t need to be a web design guru to notice that all the stuff listed above is web design-related.

Talk about site navigation, site speed, mobile responsiveness, etc. All these are elements of web design.

So, let’s see what you need to do with your site’s design to ensure you satisfy the criteria for good SEO.

What can you do to ensure your web design satisfies the best SEO practices?

Hire an SEO person along with your web designer. Or hire a web design company that offers SEO services.

Note: Lilo.co.uk is one of the few web design companies offering SEO services.

Why should I hire an SEO expert? A curious reader would ask.

Remember, it is a designer’s job to make your site look as professional and visually pleasing as possible.

It’s not his job to help you rank on search engines.

If you have an SEO expert in the team, he'll make some vital SEO suggestions to the designer, such as:

  1. The best SEO-friendly programming language to use

Most designers love to use HTML and CSS, and for a good reason.

While Flash sites may look cool, they are tough to optimize, and as a result, they don't usually rank well on the SERPs.

An SEO expert can detect and discourage your designer from using certain programming languages that are bad for SEO.

  1. The best fonts and white spacing to use

If you run a blog or plan to include much textual content on your site, you’ll need to design your site with fonts that are easy to read and a sufficient amount of white space.

An SEO person can advise your designer on the best fonts to use on the site.

Remember, the easier it is for people to read and enjoy a site's content, the greater the on-page time and the lesser the bounce rate.

  1. How to properly name image files

Don't blame a web designer that leaves image file names like this "IMG_0035.jpg."

He probably doesn’t know the SEO implication of what he’s done.

However, with an SEO expert by his side, he can be guided on how to name all the images on the site correctly.

Proper image naming (especially adding target keywords) is vital for SEO.

  1. How to compress image and file sizes

Everybody knows that large, high-quality images are always visually appealing.

But guess what?

The sizes of these images often slow down page load times.

In other words, if your site has heavy files and images, it will take longer to load, which is extremely bad for SEO.

An SEO expert can help with image and file compression before they’re embedded into the website.

  1. How to design the site architecture

An SEO expert can recommend improved navigation features to add to a site, making it easier for searchers to find what they're looking, and ultimately reducing bounce rate.

He can also advise the designer on the best ways to optimize the site's mobile responsiveness, giving the site a better ranking on  SERPs.

Finally, an SEO expert can suggest new ways of handling complex layouts, flashing ads, popups, and customer support, thereby helping to reduce bounce rate and up on-page time.

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