Effective web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is necessary for any business that wants a successful web presence. While creating a website, most designers usually keep their focus on the design elements that help craft a site that is aesthetically appealing and provides excellent User Experience (UX).

However, even after launching such a site, a business may fail to get enough visitors as users are unable to find it on search engines. This can badly impact a business’s bottom line. This is the reason web designers cannot afford to forget about SEO factors while designing a website.

Here are the common mistakes that designers make during the design process that may badly harm your search rankings:

1. Lack of Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs help visitors from a usability point of view.

A breadcrumb trail is a navigation tool that helps visitors go to previous pages, without hitting the back button. Breadcrumbs not only make the site user-friendly but also help search engines figure out its hierarchical navigation structure. Moreover, Google displays these breadcrumbs in the search results, giving you more links in each search listing.

Unfortunately, sometimes, designers forget about breadcrumbs despite the fact that they noticeably increase search rankings of a website. From an SEO point of view, it is a best practice to integrate breadcrumbs in your site. Amazon, for instance, makes excellent use of breadcrumbs to help users find their way around the site and rank higher on SERPs.

2. Not Implementing Responsive Design

Today, the basic requirement of any website is that it should be accessible on all devices used to surf the web.

Responsive design is the solution.

Responsive design is a mobile-friendly design that provides a customized viewing experience for different devices. Websites that are not designed for mobile devices (such as iOS and Android phones), typically have high loading time. Slow loading sites means users dissatisfied with their UX, which leads to higher bounce rate. Google takes this into account and devalues search rankings of such a site.

So, if you’re taking your website through a redesign process, ensure it is responsively designed not only because mobile internet traffic is on the rise but also improve its rankings and traffic.

If your website does not provide quality browsing experience on small screens, it will affect your conversion rate and ultimately the website’s ranking on search engines.

3. Improper 404 Page

Implementing a custom 404 error page is one of the most important requirements for any website. 404 pages are what you see when you click on broken links. Handling 404 errors incorrectly can lead to lot of duplicate content. If the link is missing from 404 pages, search engine spiders cannot find a way to the website leading to a fall in search engine rankings.

On the other hand, implementing it correctly by adding a link to return to the website not only enhances user experience but also improves search rankings. A correctly implemented 404 page will ensure there are no broken links and your site is crawled and fully indexed by search engine crawlers.

4. Slow Load Time

The average Internet user will wait for no more than 2 seconds for a page to load. Flash -heavy, image based design or extraneous code can slow down page load time, frustrating visitors and leading them to leave your website. This may increase your bounce rate.

Moreover, page speed has implications beyond a poor user experience and loss of revenue; it also affects search engine rankings. In April 2010, Google started to take load time into account when ranking sites. So, having a fast website is critical to the success of your website.

5. Not Integrating Social Media

SEO is impacted by social signals, but not in direct and obvious ways. Despite Google’s Matt Cutts clearly stating social signals such as Facebook likes, retweets and +1 buttons are not part of Google’s search ranking algorithm, research proves otherwise.

A 2012 study by Searchmetrics shows an extremely high correlation between Facebook shares and high ranking on Google. There is also evidence to suggest that Google+ posts do pass on some SEO benefits.

If you create a great piece of content for your social platforms which gets shared a lot, then there are good chances that someone will link to it in a way that is visible to search engines. So, harness the power of social media to boost organic visibility.

6. Neglecting Navigation Standards

One of the cardinal sins of web design is inconsistent navigation; your website navigation changes from one page to another. Bad navigation also makes it difficult for search engines to crawl through your web pages. Properly organized navigation is essential for your visitors and search engines.

Image based navigation may not be as functional as text based navigation for search engine bots. Use keyword-rich text based navigation in XHTML and CSS that can be easily read by search engine spiders, making it more likely that your page will be crawled, indexed and displayed in SERPs.

7. Implementing Geo-Redirection

Many web designers believe geo-redirection is a must -have for every business website that is dealing with traffic from different countries. Geo redirects read the geographic location and language of your computer to determine what language the website should be displayed in, and redirect you to the website with the right language.

Although automatically redirecting to an appropriate locale/language based website may make perfect sense, redirecting from your homepage may actually badly hurt your Google rankings. The best way to cope with this problem is to provide visitors with ‘select your language’ option on the homepage.

If you get your website designed wrong, you can lose thousands of dollars that could have been easily made from a well-designed SEO optimized site. By not falling into any of the above design traps, you will be able to create a site that will rank high and generate more leads.


Pete Peranzo

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