During a site redesign, most developers and brands will put an emphasis on aesthetics. It makes sense; after all if your website looks bland, ugly or outdated no one is going to want to visit. Since modern design calls for a combination of minimalist and flashy elements, it’s pretty easy to get swept up in planning the look and feel of a site. Visuals aren’t the only thing you should be focusing on, however.
Vital to the exposure of any website, blog or online publication is search engine optimization. Without a search engine optimized site, new visitors won’t find you in a web search because it will be buried in later pages. Worse yet, your site may not even turn up in a web search at all — severely limiting your traffic.
In that respect, you want to incorporate SEO from the ground up.
Why You Need to Include SEO From the Beginning
It’s much easier to implement structural elements while you’re building the foundation and walls. For example, if you were building a house and you decided to install electrical wiring after the walls were developed, plastered, painted and looking nice — you’d run into a lot of trouble. The same concept holds true with SEO and web design. If you don’t bother implementing SEO strategies and tactics while you’re building the site, you’re going to have a hard time optimizing it after the fact.
The plain and simple truth is that, SEO is integral to the world of marketing. If you don’t heed this fact and instead decide on a structure devoid of SEO, you’re going to have a lot of problems later on down the line.
How Do You Incorporate SEO During the Design Process?
All this information is fine and dandy but it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know how to incorporate SEO properly during the design process. Here are the ideal ways to do that.
Identify and Implement Core Keywords
While keywords may not be the only meal ticket to success these days, they are still relevant. Take some time to identify a few core keywords for your site — these should be words that describe your brand, product, service or content. After doing so, use them naturally across your site by doing things like including your keywords in each page’s meta description.
As Google says, “in creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”
Try to tailor your design and theme around your keywords, as much as possible.
Pay Attention to Your URL Structure
Search engines are partial to easily recognizable URLs that accurately describe the page and content. If you find your pages all use confusing URLs littered with numbers or lengthy phrases you might want to change them.
In addition, use dashes (-) between words instead of underscores (_). Most search engines, such as Google, look at underscores as a connector of sorts between words. This means it will only return the affected results when a user searches for the same group of words. Adversely, Google looks at dashes as a separator, returning related words that are both singular and grouped. The latter option would show up in more result listings.
If you poke around the Zeigler CAT website, you’ll notice that not only are all the URLs clean, accurate and descriptive they also uses dashes instead of underscores to separate words. You can clearly tell that the site was properly optimized for SEO in the beginning, which goes a long way.
Responsive Design: SEO and Mobile Friendly
Responsive design is SEO friendly by nature because you’re essentially using a single group of URLs across multiple devices. Brands that have two versions of a website – one for desktop and the other for mobile – miss out on a lot of opportunities. In a responsive design the only thing that really changes is the styling thanks to CSS. In turn, it’s much easier for search engines like Google to crawl your site and index content.
A great example of responsive design can be seen on the Vogue website. You’ll notice that no matter what device you’re browsing on, the site scales appropriately. At its core however, nothing about the main content or URLs change and that’s exactly how it should be.
Follow These Core Design Principles During Your Redesign
If you follow these core principles during your site redesign you should have no problem incorporating SEO. It’s important to note that you’re not looking for any short term benefits, as any you reap will come later after the site has already been established. That said, a site optimized for SEO from the beginning will see more traffic and greater exposure than one that ignored the concept altogether.