Does having a professionally designed, robust website have a positive impact on SEO? This is a question I get a lot from potential clients, and frankly, it’s a fairly loaded question with no clear cut answer. However, in this article, I’ll highlight a few factors that you should consider when factoring SEO into your website’s design.
What is Your Definition of “Professional Web Design”?
Everything involved in this answer can easily be assumed to be subjective. But there are design-related issues that will boost your SEO efforts as well as design techniques that have minimal immediate effects.
Positive SEO-Related Web Design Factors
Effective Use of CSS for Headings, Navigation, and Page Layout.
Having a design that uses optimized CSS (Cascading Stylesheets) to create a visually appealing website is an effective way to present plain text. Organizational structure can have a positive impact on search visibility. It allows for business owners to highlight material relevant to keyword rankings through headings, titles and overall layout of material
Clean HTML Code
A website that’s easy to navigate through is beneficial, not only for search engines but for users as well. It’s always a good idea to ensure your top priority pages are easily visible and accessible. You can then cross-link and cross-reference these pages often throughout your content. I would recommend using text-based navigational elements, though high-quality image-based navigation is not really a deterrent to search visibility.
Design Techniques That Don’t Help or May Hinder SEO
Flash Entry Pages
Popular amongst certain industries and themes, flash entry pages can potentially kill your SEO efforts. This is because there is little text or description available for search engine bots to actually crawl and index. If you really have to use flash, embed a smaller file into a larger HTML page to obtain the desired visual effect.
Framesets and Framed Pages
Another design technique that can prevent search engines from crawling your website properly is the use of framesets. Framesets do not immediately present the specific filename web addresses and as a result, can impact the indexing of your website
Lots of Pretty Images
While photographs and images may be appealing, search engines cannot see or interpret the binary file. So they don’t know how good looking your website is, or how sharp your products are. It’s your website’s textual content that produces the best SEO results.
What Is Your Competition Doing?
If I am working on a new website and need to determine how much effort needs to go into the visual appeal, I first look at the competitive landscape. Depending on how detailed the competition is, I may or may not place a good deal of weight on how much time and money I spend on the aesthetics. But remember that a good design amongst a group of amateurs can go a long way in distinguishing yourself from the crowd. It’s all about finding a balance
Good Web Design Complements Your Link Building Efforts
In my opinion, this is the most important reason a website owner should invest in good web design. A professionally designed website complements your link building efforts in two important ways:
- If you are actively seeking backlink opportunities, outside of the link request, the look and feel of the website can go a long way in obtaining feedback and response. I compare it to a job interview or a first date – First impressions matter.
- Users who find your content faster, more efficiently, and can read and digest it better thanks to your good website layout, are more likely to link to you and (hopefully) share your content with their network. If you are not working on effective website design to supplement your quality content, users may never get to read your content. They will likely stop reading halfway down the page or 3 clicks into your navigation.
Note: While images and photographs do not have an immediate impact on search rankings, presenting quality photography and imagery that is cropped, optimized, and clean can have a positive effect on usability and professionalism. In turn, this can improve the likelihood of obtaining inbound links and references as well.
Good Web Design is a key contributing factor to your success in search engine rankings. It is true that there is a lot more to SEO than just a beautiful website, but investing in a professional web design package can ultimately improve your chances of obtaining inbound links, engaging with your users, and building your reputation online