Creating a website design that flows well, is unique, and generates conversions can be difficult to coordinate. It becomes even more complex when website search engine optimization (SEO) has to be considered as well. Incorporating integral SEO components is where website development and website design bump heads. The creative team will want a high imagery website that has fascinating animations and design. Meanwhile, SEO teams will request substantial text and the fastest site speeds.
The trick: Finding middle ground that creatively incorporates SEO strategies as both are crucial for any company’s website.
Search Engine Optimization 101
Before we can dissect ways of integrating SEO tactics into the design, we first have to ensure we understand some key components of SEO.
Here are 3 key components of search engine optimization:
1. Keywords On-Page:
When optimizing for SEO, a company will select keywords that relate to the top search results they want to be ranking for. However, something that’s often overlooked is that these keywords need to have strong relevance to your on-page text; having meta titles and meta descriptions isn’t enough.
For example, if we want a page to rank for “conversion rate optimization” searches, we should have that term appear on page 5 to 8 times. Now keep in mind, that doesn’t mean cram the keyword into a paragraph as many times as possible! Instead, it means that across the span of about 1000+ words, the keyword should appear in headings and text.
2. Load Time & Bounce Rates:
Site speed is among the most important components assessed by Google’s ranking algorithm. The reason for this is the effect it has on user experience. A user does not want to wait for a page to load. In fact, on average, even a 4 second load time results in approximately a 24% bounce rate, which is more than double the bounce rate for 3 seconds (11%). Why does this happen? There are a few reasons, but the most common is, people are impatient! If a site takes too long, especially on mobile, they will exit and move on to the next site.
3. Local SEO:
The most common strategy for local SEO is creating, optimizing, and maintaining a Google My Business profile. Google My Business (GMB) allows businesses to have an immediate connection to users through the Google Search Results page. GMB profiles display images, locations (or service areas), contact information, and reviews.
By optimizing a business Google My Business, companies can improve their opportunity to immediately reach users in related searches. However, it takes ongoing work to optimize GMB’s. For example, frequently uploading images, or receiving reviews improves your Google My Business’ SEO.
3 Ways To Creatively Incorporate SEO Best Practices
1. Use Strategically Placed Text & Aesthetically Pleasing Programming
Reading over 1000 words can seem daunting to users when it’s in bulks of text. To prevent this (while still optimizing a page) try spreading it out across a variety of section types!
A webpage doesn’t need to have every piece of information immediately appearing on the page. Instead, break up the text from most important to least important, then place it across the page using different design techniques. For example, text can be laid over top of images to provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance! However, keep in mind that the text needs to be laid over top of the image, not designed onto the image. Should I upload an image with text on it, Google will not be able to read the text and therefore it will not be assessed for keyword relevance.
Another technique is by using an accordion-style or a tabbed section. An accordion-style minimizes and expands individual sections based on the user’s needs. A tabbed section allows users to switch between different topics all within a single view! What these do is allow a user to click and choose what text is appearing for them based on their needs. That way, when a user isn’t looking to learn about a certain topic, the text is neatly tucked away to be accessed on the same page still. As shown below, Colace uses a tabbed style to expand on its content for each of its 3 products! Currently, the Glycerin Suppositories are selected, but the user can click on either of the other two images to show new text related to the respective product.
2. Animations & Load As Scroll
A slow load time can be a website’s biggest downfall. We live in a time of high-speed internet and impatient users, so if your website takes too long to load, you are looking at high bounce rates and low SEO. There are numerous reasons for long load times, but there are two easily avoidable ones that play a large role in this.
First, animations are a fun and exciting way to catch people’s eyes and make a page exciting. However, they also cause an increase in load time. Now, it’d be easy to say to just avoid them. Of course, this is an unrealistic suggestion. Instead, program your animations to run only at specific times. For example, if you want a button to bounce up and down, have it only do so when the user’s mouse is near the button. Alternatively, set the animation to only run once while on-screen then freeze.
Second, a long webpage has its SEO upsides, but can definitely increase load time. Instead of having your web pages load all at once, implement lazy loading! Lazy loading is the practice of loading only pertinent segments at a given time. This means that the entire webpage doesn’t load right when the user enters, which would force them to wait until everything has loaded. Instead, it only loads the visible section and the section that immediately follows. Once a user scrolls down slightly, another section will load, then another.
3. Embed A Customized Google My Business Map
Google My Business profiles linking to their respective websites support SEO in itself. However, how can we leverage GMB to even further support your website’s SEO while maintaining design? By embedding Google My Business directly into your website! There are a few ways of doing this, but today we will just discuss two of the most prominent.
The first is by integrating a plugin that directly links your Google Reviews to your website design. By connecting them, you’re not only showcasing your raving testimonials but also, you’re provoking further reviews to be written! The second is by directly embedding the Google My Business map into your website! This is an effective practice of improving the consumer experience, but also greatly supports SEO. To do this, there are a few things to consider. One, a map doesn’t need to just be plopped on the contact page! This can be integrated throughout the site as the map can flow into the footer, testimonials, or the quick contact form available on every page.
Two, you’re not stuck with the Google My Business Map design! There are a variety of programs that allow you to add your own design to your map that makes it your own without losing the SEO value. This can be seen in the example used below. Solomon Facial Plastic has 3 Google My Business locations across the Greater Toronto Area. Instead of using 3 maps, they use a single designed map with all 3 locations being displayed using their logo! This is a creative way that stands out while still improving SEO.