SEO and Web Design: Two Sides of the Same Coin / by Logan Lenz

Technology is advancing and the way users interact with the Internet continues to change, which continually redefines user best practices. As the years bring further advances in web design, we can expect more options. As at now, there are three top design trends: HTML5, responsive design and parallax design.

Each design pattern comes with its upsides and downsides, but the matter of greatest concern focuses on level of accessibility and effect of new site architecture. You probably know by now that designs that work are those implemented with the end user in mind – these also enhance SEO rankings.

This article works the greater details of considering the SEO and the end user even while implementing otherwise technical aspects of the website. These include practical steps for SEOs to consider when implementing design techniques in order to provide the best user experience.

Parallax design

This involves placing all content of a website in a single continuous page. It is great in elevating the story-telling aspect of a business’s story. Parallax design leads to some improvement in the conversion rates mostly because website interaction becomes easier for the end user.

However, parallax introduces unique challenges to SEO professionals. Essentially, all you have to work with is a single page in an entire website. This makes it harder to take advantage of a variety of search terms and apply the most common SEO practices known to increase traffic. You can overcome this by implementing parallax design to a smaller extent – so that there are multiple pages, or incorporating a few parallax-designed pages into your official site structure.

Responsive design

Undoubtedly, Google’s favorite, responsive design makes a website accessible across multiple devices and introduces a host of user advantages since the website optimizes automatically for the size of screen on which the website accessed.

Apart from benefits related to user experience, responsive design does not interfere with the main SEO capabilities of a website. For instance, having a single URL for the mobile and desktop sites helps you to take advantage of increased inbound link equity.

This means that your back link profile would perform better, now that you don’t have to drive links to two different URLs that are essentially the same. However, the single URL could limit your abilities with regard to keyword targeting, especially where there is a different set for desktop and mobile searches.

HTML5

This came latest and exploded as the ‘next big thing’ in the world of web design, but its implementation presents unique SEO challenges. Designs in HTML5 are interactive, inspirational and all-round amazing, but unless the coding is done very carefully, Google would be able to read nothing in the site.

Another challenge of HTML5 is that most of its aesthetically pleasing elements require extensive use of JavaScript, which search engine crawlers have trouble deciphering. However, users can circumvent this by having static content for bots to crawl and give the site its appropriate index in SERPs. This however is something that many SEO specialists neglect to ensure.

Sometimes less is more

In a world where content is king, it can be difficult to fathom circumstances in which it’s better to have less content. Sometimes, though, you need to provide consumers with fewer choices to enable them reach decisions faster. The same applies to web design and SEO techniques.

For instance, providing an abundance of choice in form of menus and submenus may cause the audience to disconnect from being too overwhelmed to make meaningful decisions. Rather, offer a few of the most important menu items and necessary submenu items, which effectively guide users to the right choices. This contributes to both better web design and SEO.

Google implemented a few changes, including the Hummingbird update, which means that having too many topic-based subcategories could be worse for SEO. This goes against the grain of past SEO best practices, since more content provides more chances for optimization hence ranking. However, today, it’s time to establish a balance and determine whether your audience is better off with less content.

The cognitive dissonance theory in web design

This theory postulates that people have the drive to create consistency and hence control through the reduction of dissonance between expectations and reality. Where they are unable to do this effectively, users are simply likely to shun that which they feel they have no control over.

In web design, having a website that is not easily navigable or one with too many options can make a user leave rather than attempt to make sense of the overly complex environment. For the best web experience and hence better SEO, user experience as well as their data needs should drive web design decisions.

SEO professional should also be keen to ensure that cognitive dissonance does not occur during keyword optimization for landing pages. Choose keywords according to those that would match the user expectations for the landing page.

Both users and professionals stand to benefit from the implementation of webpages/sites that do not overwhelm or under-deliver to users.

Author bio

Michael Bentos is an experienced digital marketer and part of the team at ParadoxSEO.com - the powerful platform that makes SEO simple. He has been practicing SEO UK for more than a decade now. You can connect him via linked-in.