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SEO Website Design: A Complete Guide

seo website design for small businesses
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Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

If you want to grow awareness for your brand and business, having a nice-looking website isn’t enough. You need to optimize it for search engines as well.

Let’s dive into the what, why, and how of SEO website design so you can build a website that’s not only attractive for your audience, but also a top performer in search results.

What is SEO website design?

SEO web design involves creating websites that both humans and search engines like Google find easy to use and understand. It mixes good web design with smart SEO strategies to help websites appear higher in search results and be more user-friendly.

The primary goal of SEO website design is to attract more organic traffic to a website, ultimately improving business results.

Why is SEO website design important?

Here are the main reasons why SEO web design is important for your business:

1. Increases organic traffic

SEO practices help your website rank high in search engine result pages (SERPs). This means your audience will easily find your website and click for more information.

If you rank at the top of SERPs, you’ll likely get over 28% of the total clicks for that keyword.

The second position gets you over 15% clicks, the third position gets you over 11%, while the tenth position gets you just 2.5%.

Ranking outside the first page isn’t good for any business website, and a strategic SEO web design can help you avoid that.

2. Reach the right audience

Instead of increasing the number of random visitors, SEO attracts people who are more likely to engage with your content, purchase your products, or use your services.

This is because SEO strategies aim to match your website’s content and offerings with the questions and needs of users actively searching for solutions.

While they may not convert immediately, they know they can always visit your website for related information. This increases their chances of becoming customers in the future.

3. Improves engagement rates

Google prioritizes users’ interests. That’s why it’s difficult for a website with a poor user experience to rank high on SERPs.

Making your site SEO-friendly means creating a good browsing experience for your audience.

And when people have that, they are more likely to spend time on your site, explore different pages, and ultimately take action, like purchasing or signing up for more information.

15 factors to optimize for an SEO-friendly website

Here are factors you must consider when developing an SEO-optimized website:

1. Responsive design

People want a smooth experience on any digital platform they visit and will leave if your site becomes difficult to interact with. You sure don’t want the negative effect of an increased bounce rate on your website.

Therefore, if you’re looking to create an SEO-friendly website, you must make it responsive to all devices and browsers, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

Remember that Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites. The emphasis on mobile-friendliness is seen in their mobile-first approach to crawling, indexing, and ranking.

2. Site speed

Website load time is one of Google’s key ranking factors. And for good reason.

Google understands users’ frustration when accessing information on a slow-loading website. That’s why it prioritizes websites with fast-loading pages, placing them at the top of SERPs to provide users with the best browsing experience.

So, how do you optimize your site speed?

Optimize images, leverage browser caching, and minimize JavaScript and CSS files to make your pages load faster. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix to analyze and improve your site speed.

3. Readability

Readability is an essential consideration when designing a website for search engines.

Most site visitors will leave if they find your website content difficult to read. This increased churn rate will negatively impact your SEO, as search engine algorithms will determine that your website isn’t friendly to users.

Use simple, straightforward language to optimize for readability, Choose readable fonts and font sizes, and keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Also, make sure to use bullet points where appropriate and allow white spaces to break up content and make it less overwhelming.

4. URL structure

URLs play a huge role in helping users and search engines understand what your pages are about. A short, descriptive URL that includes the relevant keywords of a page helps provide further context on the page.

Optimizing your URLs is one of the most important things you must consider when creating an SEO-friendly website. Beyond making them short and descriptive, ensure your URL reflects your site’s structure. This makes it easy for users to understand and navigate your website for information. Here’s a look at how my site structure appears on my service page URLs:

  • https://weignitegrowth.com/website-seo-content/
  • https://weignitegrowth.com/website-seo-content/seo-copywriting-services

Each step down from my homepage URL directs you to a more specific page.

5. Title tags and meta descriptions

A title tag specifies the title of a web page, while a meta description is the web page summary. This is how they appear in SERPs.

title tags and meta descriptions

Google and other search engines use title tags and meta descriptions to understand what your page is about and gauge its relevance to user queries. These meta tags also give users a glimpse of what the page is all about and drive them to make that click.

The general rule is to create unique and keyword-rich title tags and make your meta descriptions informative and engaging.

6. Structured data and schema markups

Schema markup, or structured data, is a type of HTML code that helps search engines understand the content of your website pages. It provides additional context to your web pages, helping search engines provide better results to users.

Adding schema markups to your website design enables Google to pull information from your website and present them as rich snippets to users. Your site will appear for snippets like FAQs, reviews, how-to sections, people-also-ask sections, and more.

You can add schema markups to your website with Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. There are also plugins you can use to achieve that. Here’s an example of a schema markup showing information on online baking courses:

schema markups on online baking courses (1)

There are also schema markups for physical products, recipes, organizations, local businesses, and product reviews.

7. Header tags

Header tags, such as H1, H2, H3, H4, etc., are fundamental elements in both SEO and web design. They help structure content in a way that is easy for users to navigate and easy for search engines to interpret.

With header tags, you can create a clear content hierarchy, helping search engines understand the most important topics on each page. It also lets search engines know the relationship between the headings and subtopics on your website pages.

A good way to incorporate header tags in your SEO web design is to use a single H1 tag for the page’s main title and the H2 and H3 tags for the subheadings. Here’s an example of how header tags provide structure to your webpages:

H1: The Title and “Main Idea” of the Post

  • H2: The first point of the post
    • H3: Subsection of the first point
      • H4: Subsection 1 of the subsection
      • H4: Subsection 2 of the subsection
      • H4: Subsection 3 of the subsection
  • H2: The second point of the post
    • H3: List item 1
    • H3: List item 2
    • H3: List item 3
  • H2: Concluding point

8. Website structure

Your website’s architecture determines how site visitors will navigate your website. It also tells search engines the structure of your site and helps them find and understand your pages.

Besides, if your pages are well categorized, users will find it easy to navigate your site, lowering the chances of them leaving due to confusion.

Categorize your pages according to the central information they possess, and add subcategories that contain specific information.

website outline of SE Ranking

9. Topical authority & content optimization

Topical authority is the depth of content a website offers on a specific subject. Having such authority on any subject identifies you as a credible source of information in that area.

Search engines prioritize websites that demonstrate a thorough understanding and coverage of a topic. Building extensive content around a specific subject signals to search engines that you’re an authoritative source of information. This leads to an improved ranking on SERPs.

Conduct extensive keyword research to ensure you cover all search queries in your chosen topic areas. Make sure to find long-tail keywords to address the various subtopics and nuances within the broader keyword.

Don’t forget to optimize your content for SEO.

10. SEO-friendly alt texts

Images are essential elements in the web design process. Beyond adding context and aesthetics to your website pages, they help drive organic traffic from search engines.

To help Google understand your images, use the relevant keywords as alt texts when optimizing them. Also, make your images descriptive enough to adhere to accessibility rules by adding a caption to the image.

When you optimize your website images with specific keywords as alt texts, they are likely to rank for those keywords in the image section of search engines. For example, here are some of the images that rank for the keyword “SEO web design” on Google:

images for seo web design 1 1 1 1

11. Image size optimization

The size of your images contributes to the overall weight of your website, as too many heavy images can make your website pages slow to load. Therefore, you must optimize every image’s file size and use appropriate formats in your SEO web designs.

You can leverage image size optimization platforms like TinyPNG, ImageOptim, ResizePixel, and others to reduce image sizes without sacrificing quality.

12. Indexability and crawlability

No matter how well-designed your website is, if you don’t consider how Google or other search engines crawl and index your pages, you might end up with a site that never ranks for any keyword.

Some essential elements you must consider here are your website’s XML Sitemaps, Robot.txt, and canonical tags.

You must create and submit an XML sitemap to help search engines identify the pages you want to index. For pages you don’t want to be indexed, use the Robots.txt file to inform Google not to crawl and index them. Implementing canonical tags helps you prevent duplicate content issues.

13. Navigation and Internal linking

You can use internal links to guide search engines and site visitors to important pages within your site. Ensure all pages on your site have at least one incoming internal link, eliminating the possibility of creating orphan pages. These orphan pages harm your SEO, as neither search engines nor users can easily reach them due to their isolation from the site’s structure.

Strategically adding internal links to your website pages not only aids navigation but also helps transfer page authority to your new pages.
You can also use content clusters to keep visitors on your page for longer. A cluster is a strategic way to organize your website content according to their order of hierarchy. To do this, you create a pillar page on a broad topic and other subpages that covers related topics.

14. Accessibility

Many website developers underrate the effects of making a website accessible to the widest possible audience. Accessibility is not only a moral and legal requirement but also a practical one that enhances user experience and improves SEO.

Making your website accessible ensures all users, including those with disabilities, can navigate and interact with it. This inclusivity can expand your audience and customer base. Accessibility improvements often lead to a better user experience, which can reduce bounce rates and increase engagement.

Furthermore, search engines prioritize user-friendly websites. Therefore, when you design your site to ensure every visitor enjoys a seamless experience, search engines crawl and rank it faster.

15. Site security

A secure website is an essential SEO web design component. It boosts your user experience and increases search engine ranking.
Website users are often scared of visiting websites without strong security protocols. This is to avoid the theft of their data by third parties.

Ensure your website is secure with an SSL certificate, which protects user data and is a ranking factor for Google.

How to design a website for SEO

To design a website for SEO, make sure it loads fast, provides high-quality content, and uses keywords that match what your potential customers are searching for. Also, ensure it looks good, works well on all devices, and includes clear navigation. Optimize each page for SEO.

To elaborate, here are 10 vital steps you must take in your SEO web design process:

1. Do proper research and planning

Proper and detailed research will help you create a well-optimized website for users and search engines.

In your research, seek to understand your audience and their unique expectations. What kind of content resonates with them? What functions are they looking for in your website?

To find the answers to the above questions, research your competitors. Find out what they did and how it’s working out for them. Learn how they structured their websites, the keywords they used, their URL structures, and other vital details. This helps you know what’s working in your industry and what your potential users expect from you.

Also, define what you want to achieve with your website by setting clear goals and expectations for yourself.

2. Determine your website structure

With the information you gathered above, outline the different elements your website should contain. Use a silo structure where related content is grouped to organize your website in a clear, logical order.

Create SEO-friendly URLs for your website pages. I advise you to keep them short and descriptive, including the relevant keywords on the pages.

At this stage, you also implement breadcrumb navigation to help users and search engines understand your site’s structure.

3. Determine the design and user interface

Once you’ve determined the site structure, proceed to the website design proper. This is where you factor in the elements that enhance user experience.

Consider the website’s mobile-friendliness, how responsive it should be to all devices and browsers, and the page speed. Optimize images, use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and minimize JavaScript and CSS files to improve loading speeds.

Also, design intuitive navigation with a clear hierarchy and easy access to all important pages. This ensures your site visitors don’t leave frustrated because they can’t find your key pages.

Ensure you create a visually appealing design that aligns with your brand and engages your web visitors.

4. Set up the on-page SEO

The content on your web pages is as essential as every other design element. The keywords you infuse in them help search engines and users discover your website. Therefore, you should optimize them significantly for SEO by:

Creating unique, keyword-rich titles for each page and write compelling meta descriptions with relevant keywords.

Using internal links to guide users and search engines to important pages within your site.

Optimizing the images you’re adding to your content by using descriptive filenames and keyword-focused alt texts.

Optimizing their sizes to improve the loading speed of your website pages.

5. Develop quality content

You can’t create an SEO-friendly website without considering the content it needs to rank high on SERPs. After setting up your on-page elements, the next stage is to create quality content around the keywords you want to rank for. Extensive content around those keywords helps you establish authority as the go-to source for related information.

Conduct extensive keyword research to know the keywords driving traffic for your competitors. You can leverage Semrush’s robust keyword research tools in this regard. But for more in-depth information on how to create high-quality content for your website, read my post on writing SEO content.

6. Set up the technical SEO

Now, this is where you do the technical bits.

Create and submit XML sitemaps to search engines to help them crawl your pages. You also need the Robot.txt files to direct the search engine crawlers to the pages you want crawled.

This is also where you implement your schema markup and add an SSL certificate to your website. The schema markup helps search engines understand your content, while SSL certificates secure user data.

7. Publish your site

Once your technical and on-page SEO is set up and your site’s UX is designed to your audience’s taste, proceed to publish your website.
Ensure that regular tests are run to monitor your site’s performance and fix issues to get the desired result.

steps to create an seo-friendly website

Can changing website design affect SEO?

Yes, changing your website design can affect your SEO, for better or worse.

If the new design makes your site faster, easier to use, and better on mobile phones, your SEO will likely improve. Adding clear, well-organized content that matches what people are searching for can also help your site rank higher in search results.

However, a redesign can hurt your SEO if you’re not careful. If you remove content with important keywords, change your website’s address (URL) without redirecting the old ones, or make your site harder to get around, your site might appear lower in search results.

It’s important to plan your redesign carefully and keep SEO in mind from the start to ensure the new design helps rather than hurts your site’s ability to attract visitors.

Conclusion

SEO web design is a great way to build a website that’s acceptable to humans and search engines. When done correctly, it significantly boosts your visibility and drives the right traffic to your business.

What else would you add as a part of SEO website design? Share in the comments!

FAQ: SEO Website Design

SEO and website design are closely intertwined, each significantly influencing the other. SEO considerations drive the need for a well-structured, fast, and user-friendly website design. On the other hand, a well-designed website enhances SEO efforts by improving user experience, engagement, and accessibility.

Website design and SEO are like two sides of a coin. They’re dependent on each other for a successful online strategy.

Therefore, balancing SEO and web design can help you create a website that meets your goals.

 

An SEO-friendly website is well-structured, technically sound, provides high-quality content, and offers a great user experience. It’s difficult to tell if a website is SEO-friendly by merely looking at it. However, you can tell by checking where it ranks compared to other competing sites.

 

Yes, your website can be found without SEO through direct traffic, referrals, paid ads, and word-of-mouth. However, relying solely on these methods is not sustainable for long-term growth and visibility. SEO plays a significant role in improving your website’s organic performance and growth.

SEO is affected by how well your website content matches what people are searching for and how user-friendly your site is. Also, things like fast loading times, mobile compatibility, and having links from other websites can make a big difference.

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Picture of Poulomi Basu

Poulomi Basu

Poulomi helps businesses grow with branding, website optimization, and content SEO. She has 17 years of branding & marketing experience in multinational companies and an MBA in marketing. She has been running her business since 2015 with a mission to empower entrepreneurs to grow with their online brands.
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