Does website design affect SEO?
When you consider search engine optimization, it is easy to focus exclusively on researching keywords, thinking of popular topics for your content and creating the content itself, but there is a multitude of other factors that can play their part in your SEO performance.
Web design is a prime example of this. If your website is not aesthetically pleasing, fast enough or intuitive enough then any visitors you attract through content marketing will be immediately deterred.
If someone clicks on your website but is greeted with an outdated web design, they will almost certainly think less of your brand, and even take your content (no matter how valuable or well-researched) less seriously.
Similarly, if your web pages are slow to load, few people will stick around long enough to consume your content.
Therefore, strong web design is crucial for the success of your SEO strategy.
This is what you need to know:
How can design affect your SEO?
Web design should be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy because it speaks volumes about your brand. In this way, design and SEO go hand in hand.
In much the same way that you would avoid buying shoes from a shop that looks scruffy or dated, poor web design can negatively impact your brand identity. No one wants to stay on an ugly website for longer than necessary, so your web design should actively encourage users to stick around.
To maximise your search engine optimization strategy, you should make the design high quality.
Design your website to reflect your brand values and the target audience you are seeking to attract.
For example, if you run a premium estate agency, then a minimalist aesthetic that prioritises visuals could work well, whereas if you have a large e-commerce site then making each product section as easily navigational as possible should be the priority.
Of course, you should ensure your website looks good on mobile devices, too. Many businesses neglect the importance of being mobile-friendly and end up with sites that are chaotic or downright impossible to navigate on phones. This will improve your SEO performance.
Poor website performance will deter people from visiting
Just as a poor aesthetic will paint your brand in a negative light, poor website performance (such as slow page speed) will make the experience of visiting your site (and therefore interacting with your brand) frustrating or even outright impossible.
If your pages load slowly, then few visitors are going to sit around and wait. Similarly, if your website frequently crashes, images go missing or whole sections fail to work, your site will make for a poor user experience.
To make your website design more user-friendly, work to improve the load time of each page, make it easy to navigate the website, and eliminate any superfluous buttons or pages which will only infuriate site visitors.
Remember, it is not enough to simply attract visitors to your website. The poor loading speed will affect SEO because algorithms will notice how long people stay on your pages. If they notice a high bounce rate, then they will interpret this as you failing to provide adequate value to the searcher, downgrading your search engine ranking as a result.
Make sure your site is optimised for crawlers
Another ranking factor affected by SEO-friendly websites is crawler optimisation.
A crawler is what search engine algorithms use to index and rank a particular website page. However, contrary to popular belief, not all web pages are crawled by search engines. This is because it would take a bottomless budget and time frame - neither of which is feasible.
Therefore, search engines decide which pages to crawl based on budget. To increase your chances of being crawled, you should hide the pages you don’t want them to find (and therefore give you a poor ranking off the back of it), keep updating your core pages, and help them discover your site using SEO best practices.