A great website does not only appeal to your viewers, it’s friendly to search engines as well.

In fact, Gabriel Shaoolian, founder of DesignRush.com, says



website design and organic search performance are intrinsically linked, which is to say that design has an observable effect on a website’s ability to rank well for relevant terms.”


Is your website adapted for search engine optimization (SEO)? Read on and use this simple checklist to ensure you have an SEO friendly website design.


1. Don’t forget to use the right heading labels.


Headings are the titles and subtitles of a web page. Normally, the text used in headings is bigger than the rest of the text used in the page. Sometimes, they may be even be a different font or color.


Headings are important for SEO. They organize your web page’s information structure to help search engines determine keywords that are relevant to both your audience and your business. Also, headings help users understand what your web page---or what a certain section of your page---is all about.


That said, if you’re not familiar with SEO and how it works, you may not be aware of the heading settings (H1, H2, H3, and so on) of your website or content management system (CMS).


Properly labeling headings as H1, H2, H3, and so on is important in SEO. The labels provide Google with semantic information and help it determine what is relevant at the page’s content level. Check out the screenshots below.



Now, what’s the issue with this, you might ask? Well, the heading labels are arranged according to a hierarchy in relevancy. That means, in the eyes of a search engine, an H2 heading is more relevant than an H3. If you skip H2, than you are losing the relevance that H2 can provide. You lose the opportunity to position strategic keywords that can be powered by that relevancy.


2. Make sure there is enough text on your web page

 


Are stunning photos and captivating videos on your web page enough? Well, they work to attract and maintain attention. But it’s the text that gives these visuals the benefit of SEO. It is the caption that allows search engines to read this text and rank your website accordingly.


Text content is extremely important when talking about increasing your website’s SEO. That’s because search engine bots can only identify, crawl, and read text (for now at least). This is one of the reasons why you need to write captions or rename image files as part of optimizing your images; although visual search technology exists, it is still in its infancy. Robots, or “bots”, are programs that scan and collect every word in every page of your site depend on the text associated with the image to understand what it is and how it relates to your content. These bots then report to search engines after they are through indexing your website. The search engine analyzes the relevancy of the data the bots gathered through a complex set of algorithms. Click to understand how bots (and SEO) works.


Your text content should clearly show, explain, or describe what the page is all about. Strategic keywords related to your business must also be incorporated in your text. For instance, if your business involves making custom guitars, words such as “customized guitar,” “personalized guitars,” or “create a customized guitar” should be included in your text.


It’s also highly advisable to include a geographic location in your keywords as most people also type in a location when they search in a search engine. Thus, you might include “customized guitars in Portland” or “personalized guitars in Bend, Oregon” in your content.


Google also factors in relevant links. These are links that lead to different pages/information that are topical, relevant, and useful to the people who are reading online content. Include in your anchor text (the text containing the relevant link that can be clicked to open the linked web page) strategic keywords to make it easier for search engines to find your site and improve your page rank.


It is advisable to include in your content an internal link (a link that points to one of your website’s pages) or an outbound link (a link that points to another website other than your own).


Always remember that while your page may be rich in beautiful photos and engaging videos, Google needs text to understand what your website is all about.


3. Resize images and videos before uploading them


Without any visual content, a web page would be boring to look at and likely would not hold a viewers attention for very long. Visual elements such as photos, illustrations, graphs, or videos make your web page more appealing. They entice people to explore your page or simply stay longer on a certain page.


Many people upload images and videos on their sites because they look nice and help keep viewers engaged. But they usually do not take into account how large the files are. Large files take quite a long time to load. The user will most likely leave your site immediately, which increases your bounce rate (the percentage of viewers who arrive at your website and leave immediately without browsing) and that means losing a potential lead. If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, it is likely that you’re going to end up losing potential leads.

When it comes to images, the rule of thumb is to use what fits on the page.For example, let’s say the image you want to publish is 2000x4000. However, the maximum size allowed is 480x720. Thus, you need to resize the image from 2000X4000 to 480X720.


More importantly, slow loading times have a negative impact on your SEO. That’s because Google has factored loading time as one of the primary factors affecting search engine ranking. In other words, if your page has a fast loading time, it is likely to rank higher in a search engine results page (SERP). There are lots of tools that can resize visual elements without losing quality. Check out TinyPNG or Compressor.io. You can also resize images through Adobe Photoshop if you have access to Photoshop on your computer.


4. Make sure users don’t have to scroll far down in your web page

 


Have you ever come across a web page where you need to scroll for what seems like FOREVER to find the information you need? Frustrating, isn’t it?


A page that takes forever to scroll can negatively affect your website’s SEO. That’s because user experience (UX) is high on a search engine’s ranking algorithm. Google highly ranks websites that are easy and pleasant to use.


If your website is not user-friendly, which includes a heavy amount of scrolling, potential leads visiting your website may end up leaving. That affects your bounce rate. And a high bounce rate signals to the Google that your site is less relevant or valuable than others or doesn’t have high-quality content.


5. Don’t use pop-up ads


Pop-up ads are advertisements and notices that suddenly pop up while you are browsing a page. Pop-ups can be distracting and frustrating.


Pop-up ads affect SEO because, as mentioned earlier, Google values good UX. As you probably experienced at some point in time, pop-up windows are incredibly annoying. This is especially true when you are browsing from a mobile device since the screen is much smaller than a desktop. The pop-up window occupies a large portion of the screen, ruining the browsing experience.


True, pop-ups are useful for to increase conversions and to entice viewers to do an action. However, it should not be intrusive to the UX. For example, the pop-up ad should occupy only a small space on the screen. It should be positioned in a way that does not block the web content.


6. Make sure your website is mobile friendly

 


Mobile technology is growing at an exponential rate! People are now using their cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices to browse websites, engage in e-commerce, socialize and communicate with others, write their blogs, and more. In fact, just check out these statistics:

 


In May 2016, Google announced that mobile friendliness is a ranking signal on searches. With the roll-out of the update, websites that failed to adapt mobile screens were penalized, and their rankings went down.


In today’s age where mobile devices reign supreme, it is important that your site is mobile friendly. To check yours, use this online Google Mobile Friendly Test tool.


Does your website conform to all points mentioned above? Do you need an SEO friendly website design? Get in touch with FolioWebsites. We can help you get started by doing a free website consultation with you.


Competition on the web is tough. But with a personalized, SEO-optimized website, you will always be a step ahead of your competitors.