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A Handy Checklist of Latest Web Design Essentials for Effective SEO in 2017

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Charlie Brown
July 25, 2017

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown has written 4 articles for JavaScriptSearch.
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People used to think of web design and search engine optimization as two different technical entities that are far apart from each other. For a novice in the industry, it might appear to be so. However, experts know that web design is no more just about page layout, colors, graphics, and fonts that help make a website attractive.


A site can never gain top ranking on the SERPs only on the merit of its aesthetics. It must be structured as per the rules and guidelines of search engines such as Google, and it must be user-friendly as well. That is when SEO comes into play. By incorporating proper optimization during the design and development phase, you can maximize your chances of appearing on the top ranks.


Google’s A.I. approach

The search engine giant uses its ever-evolving AI (Artificial Intelligence) to judge a website's quality. Though the crawlers can check a site and evaluate its technical aspects, it cannot determine whether a site is aesthetically appealing or if the users find it easy to use. It is here that the crawlers use consumer feedback to complete their assessment. Online ratings and reviews, the volume of daily traffic and bounce rate account for a site's worth.


A site with an inspirational and user-friendly design can surely hold the visitors' attention for long and encourage them to stay on the site and take actions to favor your interests. It will naturally lead to more traffic and reduce bounce rate. Google measures all these activities indirectly to decide whether to move your site up or down on the SERPs (Search engine results pages).


Google's AI has been designed to think and interpret queries like humans, and it also closely mimics our unconscious process of decision making. Algorithms like RankBrain can now analyze about 2000 factors to decide which web pages should be displayed on top. Google is also doing intensive research on streamlining AI based image recognition technology, which can tell what the images on a site represent.


It may be only a matter of few months before Google starts to merge RankBrain technology with image recognition to make sound judgments on how aesthetically pleasing and user-oriented web pages and images are to decide their quality and relevance. If this takes place, a few changes may occur in the following aspects of SEO:


  • Websites with creative designs will instantly get a boost when they go live.


  • Instead of the ALT tag, high-quality images will become the ranking factor on their own merit.


  • The ALT tags that designers use to represent images for search engines may need to be more accurate to describe the picture rather than just being SEO accessories.


  • Google may also introduce penalization for any deceptive use of images that are aimed at tricking the search engine or the audience. For example, if you simply use a stock image on an author profile, and the same image is used on another website with a different name, it will be counted as deceptive and will adversely affect search optimization and ranking.


  • Google may also add more functionalities such as 'shop by image,' using which the users may be able to upload a picture of a product they want to buy and get results.


A few quick tips


Navigation – This is one important area that determines how the users will move around a website. Improper or complicated navigation may prevent users from finding what they are looking for, and it may cause them to leave the site. Developers must use primary and secondary navigation, internal links, text menus, breadcrumbs, and search boxes wisely throughout the site.


Lead the eyes – You must help the visitors to focus their attention on all the crucial elements of the pages. You must take a user-friendly "lead the eye" approach by strategically incorporating weighting, spacing, positioning, placement, and highlighting techniques.


Typography – Size, type, and styling of the fonts are now vital in enhancing user experience. Apart from type and size of fonts, designers need to consider line spacing, effects of tests, the length of lines, margins, paragraph size, indentation, and bold and italics text emphasis while planning page typography.


Clarity – It is always tempting for the designers to show expertise by packing as much alluring graphics and content as they can, but you should never overdo it.  Remember that simplicity is preferred over complexity when it comes to user-friendliness and SEO friendly web design.


Responsive design


Google has already started assessing a site's mobile compatibility to determine its ranking. If your website is non-responsive, then it might as well be considered dead. Having a responsive design is not just a trend, but it is a necessity now.


On a particular note in January 2017, Google announced that they would penalize websites for annoying pop-ups or otherwise called the interstitials. However, this will not affect the pop-ups which show the legal information about age restrictions, legal notices, cookie notifications and so on.


It is never wise to bombard the visitors with subscription requests or alerts while they are exploring your site. If you have been pestering the audience through popups such as these, it is time to change that to a smaller and on-page subscription request.


Google now measures various website design aspects which have a direct impact on SEO. The primary thing among these is the use of images and video. As per a study conducted by Backlinko, it is proven that Google gives more preferences to the web pages with at least an image or a video than those without any visual elements. Site speed, user-friendly link structure, color, content density are also important aspects to consider for SEO-friendly web design.

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