By necessity, pleasing Google is the top priority when it comes to SEO. In 2018, Google switched to a mobile first index – this means that the first measure of efficacy comes from how your site performs on mobile. This is because the internet is now primarily used on devices such as phones and tablets. Google’s priority is ensuring the best experience for their users.
To design with this in mind, the first thing that you need to do as a designer is be aware of how your designs will affect speed – a site that is slow to load on mobile will suffer when it comes to rankings. Keep designs as light on code as you can, with small compressed images and Google fonts instead of custom. Secondly, make sure that the experience for your mobile user is a smooth one. This usually comes in hand with good design, but it’s important to bear in mind that a site with a high bounce rate and non-converting users won’t perform as well in rankings as a site that has been optimised well.
Content is Key
Google is getting cleverer every day. It’s looking for good quality, informative content that’s relevant to searchers, and the old-fashioned tactics of keyword stuffing don’t work any more. You might think as a designer that this isn’t your remit, but it’s still important that you equip the content writers with the tools to do this job.
When designing, make sure there’s space for plenty of content. This can be in many forms – you don’t need to lose the balanced designs of your dreams to be able to make room for the amount of content required. Work in accordions or tabs to hide content, pack in lots of small bitesize pieces, and work in blocks so there aren’t walls of text. In general, it’s best to have around 500 words as a minimum on a page you’re hoping to rank. The more the better.
Structure your site well
Search engine robots behave in a similar way to humans when they’re exploring a site. They want to be able to navigate clearly and find the information they’re looking for easily. When you’re designing a site, you consider the customer journey; what they’ll do when they arrive at the homepage and how they’ll find answers.
The best thing about good site structure is that there’s one rule that works universally: make things easy. Don’t bury important content too deeply within the site – more than 4 clicks from the homepage is too granular for a search engine robot to consider the content important. Your customers and your rankings will benefit from a simple site structure.
As a designer, the performance of the website you create is a KPI. If you’re designing with SEO in mind, the likelihood of a strong website with plenty of traffic will only go up.