When you think of SEO, you probably think of off-page activities like building links and getting more shares of your content. However, your web design also plays a big role, and if you get it wrong, you could be seriously hurting your chances of ranking highly in the search engines.
Here are some of the most important mistakes that you want to avoid when it comes to your website design and SEO.
Not Using Responsive Design
One of the biggest design problems when it comes to effective SEO is failing to use responsive design. Thankfully, this is becoming less common, but if you are making this mistake, do something about it rapidly to avoid missing out on higher rankings.
Responsive design involves a special type of design where the website is easy to view on any screen, no matter how small. This is important because more people than ever are using mobile devices to browse the internet, and you want to ensure they can experience your website properly.
Google wants its users to find relevant websites that provide a good user experience in search. For that reason, if people are using mobile devices to search, it will only show mobile-optimized websites.
You could, therefore, be missing out on a lot of traffic if you have not yet got a responsive design, so this is something you will want to change ASAP.
Not Using Heading Tags
Heading tags are important for the search engines and they are an essential element for good SEO. The H1 tag is the most important of these, and this is usually used for the headline / title of the page and is one of the first things on the page that the search engine spiders will use to work out what the page is about.
Make sure you have one H1 tag on each page, and also use your main keyword for the page here.
Other heading tags are important too because they create a hierarchy for your content, so use one H1 along with H2, and H3 tags on your pages for the different headings and sub-headings.
Not Optimizing Page Loading Times
A fast page loading time can help to improve your SEO. People landing on a website that loads slowly may end up abandoning the site out of frustration, so Google uses this as a ranking factor.
You can easily check if your site has any problems by using Google’s PageSpeed tools. It will also suggest improvements you can make.
One of the most common problems is using images that have not been optimized. If they are too large, they will slow down the loading times, so ask your designer to speed up your site to improve your ranking.
Using Too Many Popups
Popups are popular on websites, especially for increasing sign-ups to your email list. But Google has warned against using too many because they can be intrusive and affect the user experience.
This is especially relevant to entry popups that appear before the user has had a chance to explore the content. It’s not clear exactly how much this will affect your rankings, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind.
Forgetting About Alt Text
Most websites use images, and if your website does you need to make sure you describe what’s happening in the images using alt text. If you don’t, you will miss out on a valuable opportunity to show the search engines what your site is about.
Insisting on Using Flash
Flash used to be commonplace on websites, but it is not used much these days. Many browsers do not support Flash, and this hurts the user experience. We know what Google thinks about that, so it’s no surprise that it can hurt your SEO. So ask your designer to get rid of Flash, and use HTML5 instead.
Not Optimizing Navigation
Navigation also plays a key role in search engine optimization. You want your site to have a clear navigation that allows the user to find what they are looking for quickly.
This improves the user experience, and it also allows you to target more specific keywords. Having five pages for your five different services is better than cramming them all into one page.
Don’t Make These Design Mistakes
These are all easy mistakes to make, but there’s no excuse for them. They will almost certainly hurt your SEO, preventing you from getting more traffic and business as a result.
Check through your website—or get a web designer to do it for you—and make a note of all the things that you are doing wrong. Then make the changes, and instantly improve your prospects of ranking higher in search.
James Kerr is a tech entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and philanthropist. He’s founder and Chief Geek of SuperGeeks, a multinational IT powerhouse that serves small- and mid-sized businesses in the areas of digital marketing, web design, SEO and more. A native of Maryland, James lives in Las Vegas but frequently travels to speak to industry groups about emerging technologies. He’s also a go-to IT expert for a wide array of media outlets. James is the author of three books, sits on several nonprofit boards and founded a mentoring program for at-risk youth.