SEO isn’t just about keywords, links, content, and content. Lots of things tie into SEO including your website design. And, when we say design, we mean layout and navigation, so be careful with web design trends. There are plenty of trendy design hacks out there, but what most people don’t realize is the impact they could have on your SEO ranking. The structure of the website is crucial to the website, if not setup properly you will be losing part of your audience and you don’t even know it. If you are a brick n’ mortar business, you have to setup your website for local.
We can’t begin to stress how important it is to keep up with the web design trends in order to stay relevant with your viewers and with the ever-evolving technology. But, never adopt a design just because it is trendy. Always have a purpose that blends seamlessly with your overall business brand. And, do your research. Know how web design trends might impact other things like SEO.
6 Design Decisions That Impact Your SEO Rankings:
1. Parallax Design
Parallax design looks at how users scroll through a site and adds an extra bit of dimension between the background and foreground as you scroll. This involves the background scrolling at a slower rate than the foreground. This creates a 3D effect as you scroll down the page. It’s become one of the popular web design trends. For some great examples of sites that employ parallax design, see: http://bit.ly/IQA1GZ
The first parallax sites were traditionally single-page sites with all their content in one scrollable section. This can be a problem for SEO because you are essentially removing all of the site structure that search engine crawlers depend on to rank you.
Worse still, you end up with with a whole site’s worth of keywords on one URL which is a nightmare for modern day SEO. And, single page landing pages are GREAT with a purpose. But, it only really works when your design ties into that purpose. This web design trend came about purely because of looks. SEO was never even factored in.
2. UX Design
Also known as user experience design. Let’s be clear, if your designer isn’t considering the end user experience into their design, they aren’t worth your time or money no matter how great the web design trends are. But, it’s not because Google likes a flashy site, it is because no one is going to stick around longer than a second if your site is difficult to navigate, cluttered, and hard to deal with. It is absolutely about the customer before anything.
No matter how good your content, or your keyword list, you don’t have anything without a great user experience. Which really breaks down to a simple rule for SEO and all things digital: you are creating for people first and everything else second. Don’t ever forget that. Keep it simple. Streamline the conversion process. If it is stupid simple, you will keep them coming back. The minute you have an instance of difficulty, you have lost them to the next best site. People have have a choice on the Web and if you don’t give them a compelling reason to stay, they won’t. Why would you bother with the hassle of a complicated checkout process if you can get the same product just a click away for absolutely no hassle?
3. Mobile Optimization
Google is starting to flag certain websites that are not properly mobile optimized. If you run a separate mobile site and your listing in Google automatically directs you to the mobile site, Google will probably flag you for it. That’s so people don’t end up clicking on links wondering why they aren’t directed to the link they clicked. We tend to think that’s probably for the best. But, now you can link mobile sites with a parent URL so this doesn’t have to be a problem. But, beware of the duplicate content rule because this trick makes you more susceptible to those types of flags. Just beware if you choose to go this direction.
You could also convert to a responsive design and the idea of “mobile first.” This is particularly alluring considering the wearable tech trend big companies like T-Mobile and Apple are making a push for. Keep in mind, we aren’t just designing for desktops or cellphones anymore. We need to consider tablets, watches, and heck even Google Glass.
4. Fixed Navigation
Having core links on display is pretty standard. It gives the user the power to jump to all of the major sections of the site with just the click of a button and without having to scroll to the top. There isn’t really any proof that fixed navigation is bad for SEO and it does help the user experience. But, fixed navigation doesn’t always play nicely with mobile devices and can be difficult to incorporate seamlessly on the smaller screens.
5. Off Screen Navigation
Off Screen navigation is often characterized by the “hamburger symbol” . This symbol let’s the user know there is more to the menu than initially displayed. Just like fixed navigation, there is nothing that could really hurt your SEO by using off screen navigation. Instead, you should consider your user experience.
You are adding an extra click when it comes to using the main navigation, but more importantly, recent studies suggest that a surprisingly large number of users still don’t know what the “hamburger symbol” means. That means these users will go elsewhere if they can’t intuitively find what they need. And, it’s not their fault. The hamburger symbol is relatively new to the game and it takes time for the general masses to adopt new symbols. We just aren’t necessarily there yet.
6. Images, Animations, and Effects
The web, for better or worse, is becoming more-and-more visual. And, technology is improving, allowing designers to experiment with new and exciting ways to engage audiences and allow for interaction. But, web design trends should be handled with caution.
The world is not blessed equally with connectivity. Mobile Internet in the UK isn’t necessarily on the same level as leading nations. So, if your clients are overseas, be mindful of the resources they have available. Graphics and flashy effects might look great, but they can bog down your load time especially in areas with spotty connectivity. This makes for a terrible mobile experience which can be a costly mistake in an era led by the smartphone.
When all is said and done, customers come first and everything else comes second. But, remember, even visually appealing design, if done for the wrong reasons and poorly executed, can impact your SEO ranking.
So now that you know the 6 design decisions that may impact your SEO rankings. How many of the design decisions have you already implemented on your site and how many do you plan to do in the next few weeks? I would love to hear how this article impacts your decision to update your website.
If you need any help with your website such as small updates or large updates, be sure to schedule your Complimentary 15-minute Consult and we can chat about it.