Your SEO considerations when building a website should take into account more than just content, keywords, and backlinks. But since that’s all anyone wants to talk about, it’s easy to lose sight of how simple things like design choices can have a significant impact on your search engine rankings.
It’s important to shift the focus back to these design choices and help you make the right ones so you’re not unintentionally hurting your website’s search ranking. If you already satisfied with your search ranking (lucky you!), then these design tweaks will help to future-proof your SEO.
5 Critical SEO Considerations When Building or Redesigning A Website
Web design has never been as complicated as it is today. We’re inundated with choices, and each choice comes with its own unique set of considerations. The most impressive websites from a design perspective are often not the most SEO-friendly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the best of both worlds.
What follows is a list of five of the most important SEO considerations when building a website. You’re bound to run into these the next time you build or redesign a website, now you’ll be able to make the best decision based on your SEO goals. Don’t forget to regularly check places where new designs appear (like this one) to be sure you’re following trends, too — it’s essential.
How Fast Does Your Site Load?
You may be interested to know that Searchmetrics recently released a report where they found site speed to be the number one ranking factor in 2014.
It cannot be overstated how important site speed is, and every design choice you make affects site speed in one way or another. Here’s a tool you can use to test your site speed, which will also recommend changes you can make to speed it up.
Common changes to improve site speed include moving to a better host, moving your site over to a speedier CMS and optimizing images for faster loading. Choosing a better design could also help you immensely.
Responsive Web Design or Separate Mobile Site?
It’s no longer a question of whether or not to cater to mobile users, now the question is which way should you cater to them?
Your two main options are responsive website design, or a separate mobile-optimized site (such as m.yoursite.com). Truthfully, neither option is bad, but one is better than the other. Google has come out in support of responsive web design as an industry best practice.
Google prefers responsive web design because it offers a more seamless user experience, as the same content is delivered to all users regardless of the device they’re on. If you’re building a new site, or redesigning an old one, responsive web design is the way you should go if you want to get the maximum SEO benefits.
Infinite Scrolling – Is It Necessary?
Infinite scrolling can add a lot to the aesthetic of a web page, but it can also be very damaging in terms of SEO.
Google does not appreciate this kind of scrolling because its search engine spiders cannot crawl the site as a user would. Googlebot does not have the ability to duplicate user behavior like scrolling to the bottom of a page, clicking to load more, or clicking to load the next page in a series.
If you’re using, or considering using, this type of scrolling I would question if it’s absolutely necessary. You don’t have to avoid it entirely, but doing it in a search friendly way requires some advanced developer techniques.
Do You Have Too Many Ads Above The Fold?
I fully empathize with the temptation to put ads above the fold and rake in those sweet earnings. But the problem is users don’t like it, and if users don’t like it then Google doesn’t like it.
Google, and a regular user for that matter, wants to see content when they land on a page. Google has an algorithm in place called the Top Heavy algorithm which will downgrade the ranking of a site if it detects too many ads near the top of the page.
Even with a special algorithm in place, people still do place ads above the fold because there’s a certain amount you can get away with. My advice is to find a happy medium where you’re still getting ad clicks but your rankings aren’t suffering because of it. After all, what good are ads without the traffic to click on them?
Before worry about content, links, and keywords, you need a rock solid foundation to prop up your rankings. Next time you build or redesign a website, consider how responsive web design, infinite scrolling, ad placement, and site speed will affect your SEO. Now you can make the decision that will best help you achieve your goals.