Beginner’s SEO: What is SEO website design?

Craig Greenup 21/04/23, 08:53

Any business that sits at the top of SERPs understands the importance of SEO website design. Along with designers and developers, these top spot champs created a company website that delights users and meets the requirements of search engines, like Google.

But what is SEO website design? And what elements does an SEO friendly website have to include?

What is SEO website design?

SEO website design means designing and developing a site so that it appears high up in search engine results.

By understanding SEO principles and incorporating them into the design and development of a website, you provide the best possible basis for good website ranking.

Unfortunately for us, Google (and we talk about Google because around 97% of all searches in the UK are made on this search engine) doesn’t reveal exactly what it’s looking for. There’s no definitive SEO recipe to follow.

However, the info that Google does share, plus the trial and error of web designers and developers the world over, tell us that there are three key elements to all good SEO website designs.

All websites should have:

  • A technically sound structure
  • An excellent user experience
  • Content crafted around the things that your customers actually search for

Ticking all of these boxes is tricky if you’re trying to build a DIY website. Or if you rely on readymade website templates.

But, because there is so much to gain from an SEO friendly website, it really is worth going the extra mile.

Why bother with SEO web design?

Anyone who has ever had a website ranking in the top position in search results will tell you that it offers a lot of benefit for your business.

More organic traffic

Do you ever scroll past the first page of Google search results? Nope? Well, you’re in good company. Because very few people do.

In fact, according to Moz research, 71% of search traffic clicks go to first page results (with extra benefits if you feature in the top three spots).

If you nab one of those top spots, thanks to sound SEO web design, you increase visibility and clicks. So your website gets more organic traffic.

Spend less on marketing

A high level of organic traffic means you have to spend less money attracting people to your website.

Because you have a high Google page rank for a variety of keywords, it’ll be easy for potential customers to find you.

Whilst paid ads may still feature as part of your marketing mix, you can rely on them less heavily. Your website SEO will do lots of the hard work for you – both now and into the future.

Provide a better user experience

Because good SEO web design is so closely linked to user experience, you don’t tend to get one without the other.

So why is a good user experience so vital for your company?

Firstly, it gives a great impression of your brand. Second, it means users can navigate your site with ease – and know where you want them to click next.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it improves conversion rates. Because there are no points of friction getting in the way of a sale or a sign up.

Want to get SEO website design working for you and your business? Then get in touch with the team at Radical Web Design to discuss a redesign or a brand new website.

The 9 key elements of an SEO friendly website

We said earlier that Google doesn’t provide a cheat sheet when it comes to SEO website design and development. So there are some things we do know – and some things we don’t.

The SEO world doesn’t know exactly how Google’s algorithm works. Nor how each of the following elements are weighted when it comes to website ranking.

The one thing we definitely do know? That Google considers all of the following factors, to some degree, when working out where to feature a website in search results.

So let’s take a closer look at the SEO friendly website features we need to be nailing.

1. Website architecture

Starting a website from scratch? Then this is the perfect time to ensure your website architecture (or structure) supports your SEO efforts.

There’s lots to consider. But here are a few important structural guidelines:

  • Include lots of internal links, particularly in your site navigation
  • Opt for shallow site hierarchy, with important pages only two to three clicks away from your homepage
  • Show breadcrumbs to make it easy for users and Google to navigate your site
  • No orphan pages (these are pages that aren’t linked to from any other pages on your website)
  • Include schema markup, code that helps search engines to understand your content

    • 2. Mobile responsiveness

      Around 60% of global web traffic now comes via mobile phones.

      So it makes sense that mobile responsiveness is one of Google’s top priorities. They want all users to have the same great experience, no matter what device they happen to be using.

      A responsive website adapts to every type of screen. So whether your customers are visiting your site on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, they find your site easy to use.

      3. Website speed

      Users are likely to leave a site that takes ages to load. And these days, we define “ages” as more than three or four seconds.

      Website speed affects website ranking. So it’s important to make your site as fast loading as it can be – across all devices.

      Web hosting, file sizes, plugins and coding all affect website speed. An SEO friendly website takes this into account to produce a streamlined, speedy website.

      (Wondering if your current site is satisfying a user’s need for speed? Then use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your metrics.)

      4. Descriptive URLs

      Another great way to improve website SEO? Make sure all of your URLs describe the content you’ll find on that page.

      This is good for users and for search engines. Take a look at this example:

      From this URL, users can see that they’re getting a blog article on the value of bespoke web design.

      It tells them where within the site structure they are. And it reassures them – if they see the URL in search results – that this page’s content gives them the information they’re searching for.

      5. Sitemaps

      A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like. A map of your website. But this sitemap isn’t intended for users. Instead, it acts as a handy reference for Google.

      Your sitemap contains information about all of the content on your website. And this helps Google to crawl your site more effectively.

      So why is this important for SEO and website ranking?

      If Google can’t find your pages they don’t appear in search results. So creating and submitting a sitemap ensures Google knows exactly what your website is all about.

      6. Readability

      Another big website ranking factor is readability. This is how easy it is for users to physically read the text on your website.

      The font you use has a big part to play. Script fonts are notoriously hard to read. So crystal clear serif and sans serif fonts are preferred.

      There should also be a good level of contrast between your text and the page background. So, whether you’re using a background image or colour, ensure that your copy stands out.

      7. Optimised images

      Images can really slow your site down. So great SEO website design ensures that images are compressed. This means they take up less site space and are quick to load.

      A few other ways to make SEO gains from website images?

      Switch default image file names to something more descriptive – and always include your keywords.

      The same goes for image alt text, where you’ll describe your image to support visually impaired website visitors and help Google to understand your image content too.

      8. User experience (UX)

      Increasingly, Google’s algorithm is based around user experience.

      If your site impresses a user – and encourages them to stick around for a while – you’ll impress Google too. Which can translate to a big leap in SERPs.

      Pretty much all of the SEO website design elements we’ve included above contribute to good UX. But user experience design goes even further.

      A user-friendly website has consistent, branded design. It looks good. But it works well too. All elements function beautifully. And work together to guide your user seamlessly from a landing page to a conversion page, gathering relevant information as they go.

      9. SEO-focused page content

      What do your customers search for when they’re trying to find a product or service like yours? Extensive keyword research helps you to figure this out.

      Once you know what keywords are likely to drive users to your website, you need to target them. To do this, you need SEO copy for each and every page.

      Here are just some of the places you should try to include your keywords:

      • Title
      • URL
      • H2 and H3 subheadings
      • The main copy
      • Image titles and alt tags
      • Meta descriptions

      By including your keywords in all of these places, you make sure that both search engines and your users understand what your content is about.

      Beyond SEO web design: how to improve website ranking when your site goes live

      SEO web design provides a solid SEO foundation. But you can’t just build a website and leave it to do its thing.

      If you want to reach those SERP top spots – and stay there – then you need to dedicate time to the following tasks on an ongoing basis.

      Publishing quality content

      Your main site structure covers the primary keywords you want your site to rank for. But your blog gives endless opportunities to boost SEO performance.

      You can research new keyword variations and build content around them. This makes your site rank for a wider variety of search terms and improves your chances of being found online.

      Regularly uploading new website content does a couple of extra things for your website ranking.

      • It allows you to build up a bigger network of internal links
      • It shows search engines that your website is fresh and relevant and worth crawling
      • It helps you to get backlinks

      Getting backlinks

      Google looks at your website authority when deciding where to rank your site for a particular search term. (You can check your website authority, and that of your competitors, with this handy free tool.)

      The higher your website authority, the higher up in search results your website will tend to be.

      Backlinks – a link from an external site to your site – are a great way to grow your website authority. They prove to Google that other people think your site has valuable, link-worthy content.

      But not any backlinks will do. Google seems to value quality over quantity.

      So, to improve website ranking, you need to secure backlinks from trustworthy websites that have higher authority than your own. And ideally use anchor text that is relevant to the page being linked to.

      In summary

      There’s no silver bullet when it comes to website ranking. But when you opt for SEO design and development, you know you’re creating the best possible groundwork.

      You’ll have a fast, well-structured and responsive website. The type that users find visually appealing and easy to use.

      From this basis, you can then work to build your website authority, creating quality content and getting the backlinks you need to take your SEO strategy from strength to strength.

      Want to read more like this? Then check out these recent posts from the Radical Web Design blog: