Most of the activities involved with optimizing a website for improved search engine rankings are handled on the “back end”, under the surface. Many of us could very easily spend a great deal of time conducting search engine optimization (SEO) improvements on a website without ever even glancing twice at the actual design of the site itself. There is simply so much to do for SEO on any given website that requires diving into the HTML code that the design often gets left on the back burner.
However, no true SEO campaign is complete without an in-depth review of the website’s design, and any forthcoming revisions that come from making that evaluation. We’ll take a quick look at a few of the key focal points we should consider most prominently when evaluating a website for SEO.
Start at Home
The home page is probably the most common starting place for the web design review component of your SEO campaign. It is of course most likely the main ‘hub’ of your site and the page that tends to receive a majority of your inbound visitors. However, there may still exist a handful of other equally important pages to look at, but it’s good to start on the home page.
Your home page carries a few key components that are crucial to consider for SEO. Perhaps the most important one is the navigational element. For most websites, the home page is a starting point of sorts for multiple routes through the site. Usually, a good home page will have high priority pages linked in the “Top Nav” – most often a large row of buttons or links in the top section of the page or the left sidebar; plus a few smaller internal links sprinkled throughout the body content, and finally a group of links in the footer section.
Before you tackle any other elements of your website’s design, it’s best to evaluate how well the home page is designed to optimize the navigation structure and taxonomy of your site. Not only will optimal navigation improve your visitors’ experience (and your conversion rates), but it will also ensure that search engine crawlers can spider your site efficiently.
Pages with Purpose
Once you’ve optimized your website’s navigation elements and site structure, you will then want to evaluate how well your pages portray the site’s content and purpose to potential patrons. It’s best to avoid overly large images and advertisements, interstitial ads, pop-ups, splash pages and similar elements. Not only could you endure penalties from Google, but these types of spammy gimmicks can quickly cost you valuable traffic including visitors who might otherwise become returning customers.
Tackling the navigation and averting annoying advertising techniques represent a large chunk of your design evaluations for SEO. Beyond those activities, the other aspects of your review and revisions will vary depending on the type of site you have and the overall theme. The ultimate goal is to ensure that your visitors get what they were expecting to find when they reach your site, and that the interface is intuitive while retaining an ambiance that is both innovative and pleasing to the eye.
Clay is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist and digital marketing blogger for Brand Native