Having a good web design is critical to your business, but poor web design and UX mistakes could negatively impact your SEO success. It is important to evaluate your web design and consider important SEO factors such as response times, mobile user experience, and conversion rate optimization (CRO).
SEO Pre-Launch Checklist
Make sure your website is SEO-Friendly
Here are our top 10 web design mistakes to avoid in order to ensure optimal SEO results.
1. Poor Navigation
Navigation is one of the most crucial and yet overlooked aspects of web design. Many users are still adjusting to navigating around a responsive website on a mobile device, so it is important to think through your website design with optimal navigation in mind on all devices: mobile, tablet and desktop.
- Ask yourself: are the elements easy to click on? How about with a finger, on a smaller screen?
The ideal navigation is intuitive and easy for users to navigate without a lot of guesswork. Your navigation menu should take into account the overall accessibility as well as your user’s habits.
- Ask yourself: What pages attract the most attention, or are most important and which ones would best be left to a secondary menu? Expandable links and hidden sliding drawer menus are great options for most websites that have a lot of content and limited space.
2. Inaccessible Content
Nothing will frustrate your customers more than being unable to view your content on a mobile device. In the age of mobile-first, people expect to have everything easily viewable – especially when it comes to mobile website content.
A good rule of thumb is to be sure to give mobile visitors the same highly valuable content that they can find on the desktop version of your site. Now that Google has moved to mobile-first indexing, this is critical to your SEO success. Best practice is to have one single version of your website, built as a responsive design.
3. Sending Users Away From Your Website
This would also be a good time to discuss PDF downloads and links to other websites or resources. Make sure you give your customers a reason to come back. Why not send the PDF via email and gain another subscriber rather than make them download it onto their phone when we all know they won’t ever open it again.
Make sure when linking to other websites, you have the site open up in a new tab, so your website is still there whether it’s desktop or mobile.
4. Resource Overload
Trying to load too many external resources is one of the costliest mistakes that a web designer could make. These can overwhelm a responsive design and kill page load time. Slow page load time can lead to fewer conversions for web pages.
Remember: responsive design is all about simplicity and adaptability, which often means sacrificing unnecessary resources in favor of a more streamlined approach. You may have to put in some extra effort to make sure that the resources your customers use the most are the ones that are immediately accessible, but this step will pay great dividends over time.
5. Your Website Is Not Secure (HTTPS)
Not securing your website with an SSL certificate is a red flag for website visitors and SEO. You may have noticed when trying to visit websites that aren’t yet https, Google may have warned you before accessing, or you’ll see in the URL bar that the website is labeled as Not Secure.
Most website hosting companies offer a free version of an SSL certificate, and you should at least have that installed on your website.
6. Not Enough Quality Content
Best practice is to have at least 300 words per page on your website and of course, the more in-depth you go on your topic the better. In addition to written content, consider adding video or textual images to break up the content and engage the user in an interactive way. Bonus: Videos can also help decrease bounce rate!
7. Missing Calls To Action
Missing a clear CTA means missing out on conversions. At Thrive, we like to perform a conversion rate optimization (CRO) audit to make sure the users are doing what you want them to, which usually means adding CTAs on every page of your website. You can also utilize the sidebar on pages and posts to ask for email signups or offering a live chat option.
Don’t forget to set your CTA actions up as goals in your Google Analytics so you can better understand how and when users are converting. You can use your Google Analytics data or invest in heat mapping and user tracking tools to get a better understanding of how users are interacting with your website and why (or why not) they are converting.
8. Lack of H1s and Metadata
Make sure you have a single H1 and SEO important metadata on all of your pages and posts. You can use Screaming Frog (free download) to crawl your website and tell you which pages are missing these items. We use Yoast to add in metadata because we want to include our focus keywords in our page titles and descriptions.
It’s important to pick a focus keyword for each page of your website, and then embed that keyword in the H1, metadata and throughout the content in a natural way.
Read more on the essential elements of a good website.
9. Publishing Duplicate Content
Rule #1 since kindergarten: don’t plagiarize!
We have written about this topic many times, and we even have a list of duplicate content checkers, because you should always only publish original, unique content. It can seem cumbersome to create original content when you know it already exists out there, but having content that belongs to another website on yours will only hurt your SEO efforts.
10. Pop-ups and Modals
We’ve all been there, browsing a website and just when we find what we’re looking for a pop-up appears and we’re instantly annoyed.
Here are some web design tactics to avoid straight from Google’s Webmaster Blog:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been reduced to under the fold (viewable area without scroll).
Proper SEO web design is a must for any business that wants to attract customers from all connected devices and assist your organic search efforts. It pays to work with a web design company who can provide the expertise and guidance for all your web design needs, from a website redesign to a brand new website. When you are ready for expert assistance, Thrive is here for you!