Often, after conducting an audit of the site, in the final report, clients see recommendations for correcting the design. It would seem, what does SEO have to do with it? Oddly enough, many online store owners still associate search engine optimisation with keywords in page texts and links. And they are sincerely surprised when they see our recommendations to change the navigation menu, the arrangement of elements on the pages, restructure the catalogue, reduce the size of images, etc.
How design affects the position of a website in search results
When we talk about design, we mean not so much the attractiveness and beauty of the external design of the site (although this is also important), but the key components of the web resource: the quality of the layout, the organisation of scripts, the presence of the necessary elements, their location and ease of interaction with them, the structure components (menu, catalogue, pages). Simply put, everything that is in the complex is a site for the user.
Search engines now also analyse the site comprehensively, from the user’s point of view. Therefore, the design of the resource has the most direct impact on its position in the search engine. It is important to understand here that most of the design components work on SEO at the same time in two directions:
-They are a ranking factor. The search algorithm checks whether your site meets certain design requirements. If they are, it adds another point to your score.
-Affect behavioural factors. For example, if the design is inconvenient, unattractive, the person will spend very little time on the site, and this will be a bad behavioural signal. Search engines track user behaviour and, accordingly, raise or lower the conditional rating of your site.
The main thing is that design affects your sales, and this is the third most important factor of influence. Any commercial site is primarily a sales tool, and the design should provide conversions.
SEO, conversion, and design are often closely related and complementary:
changed design leads to more orders on the site which then leads to improved positions on the search (because the previous item improves behavioural factors) which will lead you to even more sales;
changed design leads to improved search positions, this brings more sales which will improve positions even more, so you will get even more sales.
The link between design components and SEO
Mobile version or responsive design
The design of the site should be developed in such a way that it would be convenient for users who visit it from smartphones or tablets to navigate through the pages, view content, interact with buttons, links, etc. For this, either a separate mobile version of the site is created (pages open under another URL), or the design is made to be responsive, i.e. adapt to different screen resolutions and device types.
Why is it important? The “triple influence” also works here:
Google checks if the site is optimised for mobile devices. If the answer is “yes”, the position of such a site is improving.
Behavioural factors for sessions from mobile devices are improving, and the share of mobile traffic in some niches can reach 80%.
If it is convenient for a mobile visitor to choose and buy a product, then the conversion of the site increases.
Completeness of information in product cards
Often, in the pursuit of ease of website design, SEO-critical components on the product page may be removed. You need to think about how to place them. However, in the end, this can lead to a deterioration in positions and behavioural metrics.
It is important for search engines and users that the product page contains:
-High-quality photos from different angles;
-Detailed photo and video reviews;
-Information about the availability of goods (available in stock or available on order, how long it will be delivered on order);
-Possibility to add a product to the “cart” and later place an order (realised by the “Buy” or “Add to cart” buttons);
-Reviews (an important factor influencing the buyer’s decision to purchase);
-Information about the warranty period;
-Comparison option with other products;
-Information on delivery times and payment terms: even if you have a separate page “Delivery and Payment”, you need to place brief information here, preferably – the conditions for this particular product;
-Links to similar products: they allow the buyer to view other products if this one does not suit them with something, in addition, this is a good linking scheme.
Fast page loading speed
The scheme of influence of this factor is the same as in the previous paragraphs. Obviously, users don’t like sites whose pages load slowly: you run the risk of getting a high bounce rate and low time spent on the site.
The loading speed largely depends on the optimisation of the website code and on the resources of your hosting – these factors are more difficult to work with. But there are relatively simple things that can be easily improved:
-The size of the pictures. Using plugins for CMS or online tools, the size of images can be minimised without losing quality;
-Page caching settings. If the browser does not access your site for data each time, but stores some of it in its own cache, this will speed up loading.
Identifying design bottlenecks that negatively affect SEO and sales
An easy way to identify pages with problems is to analyse important behavioural factors and select pages that perform poorly on them. These factors include, in particular:
-CTR in search results. If your page is shown on the search (perhaps even in the top), but there are few clicks on it, this is bad. Most often, the fault is the page snippet. It can be irrelevant, unattractive, contain errors, etc. Or the page load speed is so slow that the user leaves it before the full load, so the search engine does not record the transition.
-Bounce rate. You need to analyse pages with high bounce rates and understand what prevents the user from staying on the site, moving on to choosing a product or buying.
-Time on site. If users leave quickly, this may indicate an insufficient amount of content or errors in its display, complex navigation and directory structure, etc.
-Scroll depth. Users will scroll through an interesting and convenient page to the end. This can be prevented by an incorrect arrangement of elements, errors in progressive loading plugins, etc.
4 Best SEO Tools for Web Designers
Ahrefs allows you to set up alerts for your brand keywords. Experts from SEO company in Sydney advise using this powerful brand management feature.
Ahrefs is a powerful SEO tool you can use to:
1. Analysis of external links
Auditing your existing link profile is the first step for any new SEO strategy. Ahrefs will provide you with the data you need to understand your current link profile.
2. Search for promising donors
Competitor Link Research – Maybe one of your favourite Ahrefs features. Repeat after a competitor, and then do it even better – the easiest one is to take the first position in the search.
3. Search for new keywords
4. Analyse your competitor’s keywords
5. Tracking organic visibility
6. Brand management
7. Site audit
This tool will help in the technical setup of the site.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console (Google Webmaster Tool) is an essential SEO tool that works with any search engine. GSC finds technical errors that interfere with SEO promotion and helps to get statistics on queries.
7 essential features of Google Search Console
1. Performance and Coverage reports
3. Removing the page and cache from the index
4. Whole site loading speed
5. Convenience for mobile
6. AMP page
7. Products report
3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a tool that allows you to evaluate advertising campaigns and optimise budgets. Through Google Analytics, you can track a site or a mobile application: see where users came from, how old they are and what devices they use, what they do and how long they are on the site.
What you can do in Google Analytics:
1. observe the actions of visitors;
2. calculate conversion;
3. track important business events;
4. conduct A / B testing;
5. analyse the effectiveness of different advertising channels;
6. watch what is happening on the site in real-time;
SEMrush is an SEO service for working with search results. A tool for the work of professional internet marketers. Analyses SERPs, Display Ads, Backlinks, Keywords, Shopping Ads, Keyword Difficulty. Compares competitors. Provides convenient reports and graphs.
1. Comprehensive website audit
2. Competitor analysis
3. Site position monitoring
4. Checking the link mass
5. Parsing keywords
6. Own keyword base
7. Semantic core clustering
A well-designed project is an effective marketing tool. Its development should be based on the needs of the user and the requirements of the main source of traffic – search engines. The collaboration of designers with an SEO tool should be complementary, and at each stage of development, from the very beginning.