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Why Good Designers Don’t Ignore SEO

Person working on laptop with digital sketch pad

By idfive \ May 1, 2016

While we all understand the importance of SEO, it’s generally treated as an afterthought to design and development choices.

In some cases, websites will actually be launched with stand-in meta descriptions and title tags, because you can always go back and improve them according to new data. But what about design or flow of information? What about the mobile user experience? Can you just go back and change those?

“We can do whatever the client wants” shouts the idfive account executive behind me.

And she’s right. We could rework the H1 header area or build out a new webpage, but I think we can all agree that it’s best to just do things right the first time.

But in order to do so, we all need to understand and assign value to the different design and development choices affecting SEO. This way, we can work together to build something that meets all of the marketing needs (and opportunities) a business is faced with today.

Here are 5 design choices that impact SEO.

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    1. Header tags: The easiest way to tell if your headers are efficient is to ask yourself “would our audience search for that?” If it’s too clever, they may not. If it’s too bland, you’re stripping your website of its much-needed personality. Try to find that happy medium. If you’re planning on building a website without headers, or just one when two or three could work, you’re effectively pushing yourself farther down the search engine rank.
    2. Live text: Live text is text that’s placed over images or backgrounds and not a part of an image itself (if you can highlight the text, it’s live text). If the words are a part of an image, as in the case of the many logos people slap onto pages, search engine bots can’t read them and you lose those keywords.
    3. Single page websites: Though a popular idea for microsites, creating a single-page website can be very detrimental to your search ranking. If you like the fluid feel of a parallax page, compromise with intuitive IA and smooth navigation labels that make the user’s experience feel as fluid as it would be on a single page website. This website is a great example of providing a fluid experience while giving each page its own URL (click around and notice the content fade in and out, making you feel like you’re never leaving the homepage).
    4. Page speed: Every website you build should be put through a QC speed test. Any website the loads slower than a search engine’s speed standards will be interpreted as a less valuable website and will be ranked lower. Wondering what can kill your page speed? Heavy images, messy navigation, poorly coded tools and using Flash are just a few weights worth snipping.
    5. Navigation: Websites with poor navigation are also ranked low by search engines. There are quick fixes, like making sure all your navigation links aren’t solely contained in the dropdown menu, and then there are more complicated matters, like making the navigation user friendly and intuitive when there is a wide range of audiences to look out for and content to provide to them.

Unfortunately, the list doesn’t stop there. In fact, it keeps changing.

Producing a website with good search rank, or improving the search rank to an existing site, takes constant surveillance of search engine standards as well as the expertise to capitalize on those standards. One of the benefits of working at a full-service agency like idfive, is that you have those skills and expertise to rope in all the elements of digital marketing to establish a well-ranking website.

To learn more about SEO’s role in digital marketing or to discuss ways to improve your site SEO, give us a shout or sign up for your integrated marketing newsletter.