Search-Friendly Design 101

Understanding search-friendly design is critical to making your website fresh, relevant, and enticing — and results in higher rankings on the search engines. After all, search engines evaluate metrics too. If your site performs well — with bragging rights such as low bounce rates, high conversion rates, strong keyword strategies and more — the search engines will put your site at the top of their referral list.

Here are the basic fundamentals you need to know for search-friendly design:

1.  Live up to expectations.

When browsing a website, users have expectations of where things should be located. What’s more, visitors don’t read — they scan. Whatever the goal of the web page — to keep the audience engaged, or, convert them through a contact request — the design must optimize on an intuitive layout.

2.  Keep it clean — and simple too.

Never underestimate the power of ‘whitespace’ or ‘negative space.’ It’s a necessity for the brain to organize, absorb and process information. Entire design courses are dedicated to the impact of whitespace. At minimum, you should know that keeping the space between graphics, columns, images, text, margins and other elements free from clutter meets two critical objectives: it forces you to promote only the content is truly important, and, it implies quality, credibility and professionalism.

3.  Make headers work.

Not only does typeface help visitors consume information, search engines put importance on words with a header design. To boost your search engine hierarchy, headlines and subheads should be written with targeted key words and phrases. Standardizing a web template with headers, body content, font sizes and other layout styles significantly assists with optimization.

4.  Keep up with the times.

No one will argue that the speed of technology can easily boggle the mind. In web design, there’s a fine line between keeping up and overdoing it. A website that is disarray of outdated information and technology sends a negative message. But a site overloaded with the latest and greatest bells and whistles also falls out of favor with search engines — thanks to slow load speeds and befuddled visitors exiting your site. Key technological craftsmanship to employ (as of this blog date!) includes responsive sites for visual consistency, cross platform compatibly, and challenge-response testing forms, to name a few.

Implementing these fundamentals is a win-win for your site: it drives your website to the top in search engine rankings and gives it a clean, functional and professional appeal. So, why not create a site that both you — and the search engines — will be proud to promote? ∎

About the Author: With more than 20 years hands-on experience — and a strong track record of propelling growth to both small and large companies alike — Elizabeth Peck is no stranger to playing major roles in the success of a business. Elizabeth combined forces with Holt Web Design in 2014, jumping outside of the corporate box to help businesses achieve their marketing objectives. A global high-tech marketing professional with deep knowledge of communications and branding, strategic planning, project and program management, operations, analytics and budgeting, turning ideas into a reality is Elizabeth’s passion.