4 design tweaks that can boost your SEO

SEO isn’t just about getting back links and working under technical SEO. For a long time, Google has been adjusting its algorithm to look at user experience to determine rankings as well. So guess what? Design is one of the key aspects of user experience. If you’re not doing a good job with your designs, your ranking will suffer. Here’s our take on design tweaks that can significantly boost your SEO.

First off, design your website with the mobile first approach. Back when people use desktop devices more than mobile devices to do searches. You can get away with your website just being desktop friendly. But that’s changed since July 2019. Google has enabled by default, what they call mobile first indexing. That means when Google indexes a website, it looks at the mobile version first in order to determine how relevant a page is to the user search query. 

The majority of people are using mobile devices to search. According to • Statista – The Statistics Portal for Market Data, Market Research and Market Studies, 64% of Google searches are done on mobile devices. If your website’s mobile experience is bad, your rankings and traffic are definitely going to suffer. So step one, make sure you have a decent mobile version that delivers a good experience. That means text that’s easy to read, good font sizes, good spacing between lines, readable colors, clear text hierarchy, that means sub headings and subheadings beneath that. You also want to add rich media, animated GIFs, videos, infographics and relevant images above the fold. Start delivering what people want. If you deliver what people want above the fold, that’s going to mean that they’re going to be happier with the experience, which means that your rankings over time should climb. You also want to make sure that your design is responsive. But think of your mobile version as a priority, not the desktop version. You want to test different devices, mobile devices, and you can use tools like BrowserStack to do that; to ensure that your website is compatible with all these different devices. 

Step two, make sure your mobile version loads as fast as possible. You want to use a CDN (or Content Delivery Network). It compresses your images, your HTML, so your site loads faster and gets distributed throughout servers all over the world. You can use solutions like Cloudflare, AWS Cloudfront etc.

Step three, use Google’s mobile friendly testing tool. It’ll help you meet Google’s design standards. You should use the fetch and render feature in Google Search Console as well. This will help you test both mobile and desktop versions to see how Google sees your page. Now, the next thing you want to do is organize your content in a meaningful way. So when you look at design, it’s not just about being mobile friendly. If your content isn’t organized in a meaningful way then people are going to go and be like, “Hey, your designs are pretty, “but I’m not really getting any value.”

So how do you do this? Well you start off by simplifying your navigation. Don’t go overboard with your navigation by adding categories to your website and useless links that people don’t need to go to. Give prominence to the most important categories on your website and keep the unimportant pages off the main navigation bar. Next, make use of ‘content hierarchy’, i.e, use only one H1 tag, and then subdivide the other text blocks on your page into other forms of sub headings H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 you get the point. Subheadings make it easier for people to skim your content and read it and figure out what a particular section of content is about without reading all of it. Keep in mind that when people are on their mobile devices, they may not have time to read 5000 words of text. Think about your content having multiple chapters and sub topics. That should give you an idea of what kind of subheadings you should use. The title of the book is like H1. Each chapter is a H2, each topic within the chapter is like an H3 heading, and so on. 

Step three. For long form content add navigational links at the top, and try to put user intent at the center of your user experience. Sometimes there’s no point offering a 4000 word article when users are searching for a product to buy. It just doesn’t make sense. You have to figure out what people are looking for in order to determine the best type of page that you want to create. It’s not all about creating a long form content page or really thin piece of content. Sometimes people may prefer a video. Let’s say I’m creating an article or web page on how to tie a tie. Would you like to see a text description with images? Or would you rather see a video that breaks down how to do it in less than a minute? You’ll take the video. You start by trying to define the type of keywords you’re targeting. Is it transactional, navigational, informational? Each keyword will give you a different type of page. For example, if it’s a transactional keyword like ‘Buy an iPhone XR’, or ‘Buy an iPhone 12’, or 13, or whatever numbers that are on, you can’t just put a long form article. People just want to go to a page that breaks down what they’re getting, the features and click a buy button. That’s really it. Next, look at who’s ranking for that keyword, and what they’re doing to rank well. So Google’s already pretty good at determining user intent. If you just do a search for any keyword that you’re looking to rank for, you’ll see the pages that are in the top 10. This will give you an idea of what you need to do in order to rank as well. And when you do that search, you need to think and ask yourself, is that a product page? Is that a comparison article? If it’s a comparison review about a product, is it a long form article detailing how to use a product? Because all these things will help you understand what you need to do in order to rank at the top. 

And last but not least avoid visual interferences on mobile devices. Google doesn’t like it when you put what they call unsolicited interstitial on mobile pages. If someone lands on a mobile page, and right away, they just see a pop up. Google hates that but on the flip side, if someone’s about to leave your site and you show them a pop up, that’s fine as long as it’s related to the article and it provides a better user experience. I know a lot of people hate pop ups, but just think of it this way, if pop ups give value to the user, you should show it. If it doesn’t, and it’s just fulfilling your own prophecy of making more money then don’t show it. It has to be a win-win situation. 

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