Search engine optimization is an area of digital marketing that is governed by a unique set of rules, some of which may even seem counterintuitive for someone who’s new to this field.
On the other hand, it’s also refreshingly universal — an SEO agency in Brisbane will strive towards the same goals and end results as their counterparts in London or Los Angeles, albeit using different methods
Search engines, such as Google or Bing, use special algorithms, known as crawlers, to scour through websites and analyze their readability, quality of content, and many other aspects that will all have an impact on each site’s ranking for related search words.
Web design should go hand in hand with SEO too, and it’s going to be much easier for you if you adhere to that logic as you create your website design. Re-designing a webpage is quite an exhausting and time-consuming task.
There are common mistakes that web designers often make, which may end up hurting their site’s SEO. If you don’t want to follow in their footsteps, check out this list of common web design mistakes that hurt SEO and can negatively impact your pages’ rank!
Slow Page Load Speed
This is one of the most important aspects of your page when it comes to search rankings. Google has officially admitted that it takes the loading speeds into account when determining page rankings. If your website loads in more than 3 seconds, you might be losing out on a lot of valuable traffic.
There are quite a few ways in which you can improve your page load speed, the most obvious one being compressing your high-resolution images and media files to the lightest format possible. Huge files take more time to load, which gets picked up by the crawlers as a factor detrimental to your SEO efforts.
Aside from avoiding large images and other files, you should also try to make sure that your web host’s response times are fast enough. 200ms has become the industry standard by now, and if your web host struggles to meet that threshold (i.e. takes longer than that to respond), then it might be time to consider switching to another one.
Too Much Clutter
If a website is difficult to navigate for a web crawler, then you can be sure that actual humans will have a hard time making sense of your site as well. Your first area of focus when it comes to organizing your links and images should be the home page. It is the first place people land on when finding your website, and if you don’t want it to be the last one, you should organize your internal links and page clarity in a logical, concise manner.
The general rule is to organize various pages according to highly rankable keywords, with one link referring to a page focused on just one keyword for additional clarity and searchability. Check out Apple’s website and how they organized their internal links at the bottom of the page for inspiration.
Putting Crucial Information in Images
You might deem it clearer and more readable to put crucial text in images and audio files. In fact, it probably is! For humans. Google’s web crawlers still prioritize text and have a much easier time analyzing the content that is presented in pure text, rather than as an image or an mp3 file. As far as crawlers are concerned, a picture is a picture and it cannot, in any way, convey textual information.
It’s fine to include infographics and present some data in the form of images, but you should absolutely avoid including keywords and critical information in any other form than standard text. It might hurt your SEO quite significantly, even if your website is perfectly clear and readable for the visitors.
Disregarding Mobile Devices
According to the most recent statistics, over 50% of all traffic on the internet comes from smartphones, tablets, and similar devices. In other words, there is a one in two chance that any visitor from your website is accessing it from a mobile device.
Mobile friendly is SEO-friendly. Not making your website easily accessible and readable from a smartphone is one of the most basic web design mistakes. Thankfully, not many webmasters are guilty of it, so if you still haven’t caught up with the times, you should do so as soon as possible.
This is one of those common web design mistakes that are hurtful for your optimization efforts in a couple of ways, even though they might make sense from a designer’s point of view but are incompatible with the web crawlers’ capabilities.
Infinite scroll is a term used to describe a website that enables visitors to scroll down indefinitely, with additional content being loaded as you continue scrolling. It’s a cool, mobile-friendly feature for news sites, but it overlooks one fundamental problem — crawlers can’t scroll. They’re only able to follow links, and therefore will ignore all of the rankable and searchable content that might appear after scrolling all the way down. If you really want to use the infinite scroll on your site, Google has prepared a guide on how to do so without hurting your search engine rankability.
The Bottom Line
The points outlined above are just some of the most common web design mistakes that might hurt your website’s SEO. Make sure to avoid them, but also keep in mind that there are many other ways in which you can hurt your rankability. Things such as thin content, using large images and media files too often, annoying pop-ups, or missing H1 tags are all things that might make the user experience worse and lead search engines to punish your website.
In order to rank as high as possible on Google and other search engines, you should first and foremost consider the user and their perspective when designing your website, while keeping in mind the somewhat limited capabilities of web crawlers to ensure maximum optimization.