Web design is one of the most important aspects of making a sale online, but these common web design mistakes could be negatively impacting your SEO success and lowering conversion rates among website visitors.
When designing a new website or reevaluating your current web design, you have to consider things like responsiveness, mobile user experience, pagespeed and conversion rate optimization.
All of these things connect to UX, and frankly, that’s all Google wants for the Internet. When you provide top-notch user experience, your not only giving your potential customers a great first impression, you’re also impressing Google and other search engines — which can lead to improved SEO!
Here are some web design mistakes to avoid in order to ensure optimal SEO results.
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, so it is important to think through your website design with optimal navigation in mind on all devices: mobile, tablet and desktop.
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 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.
Nothing will frustrate your customers more than the discovery that some of your content is inaccessible on smaller screens. In the age of mobile-first, people expect to have everything at their fingertips, especially when it comes to mobile website content.
If you do decide to hide cumbersome content, such as large images, consider how its removal impacts the user experience and plan accordingly. Content should always be removed in terms of priority, giving mobile visitors the same highly valuable content as their desktop counterparts.
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.
Background Images and Icons
Dynamic images can improve the overall user experience, but your visitors will only be frustrated by inflexible images that look blurry when scaled larger or smaller. Images that take forever to load also burden an otherwise efficient page.
Retina-ready images can help draw user attention while preventing awkward scaling errors and lagging page load times.
Using too many 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 means fewer conversions for web pages.
47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Check your website’s pagespeed with Google’s Test My Site tool.
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.
One simple trick is to optimize your website with GZIP and compress your website into a swift, responsive powerhouse.
Neglecting Older IE Versions
Responsive designs are not compatible with older versions of IE (Internet Explorer) that need CSS3 support. But, that does not mean your website has to remain inaccessible to customers using this browser.
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.
Not Enough Content
The best practice is to have at least 300 words per page on your website and of course, the more in-depth the better. As long as you’re not repeating yourself and only providing the necessary information related to that page.
In addition to the words, consider adding a video or images to break up the content and engage the user in another way. Videos can also help decrease bounce rate!
Missing Calls To Action
Missing CTAs is missing out on conversions. 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.
Whether that’s having your phone number in your top menu, or if you decide to add buttons on the bottom of every blog post. You can also utilize the sidebar on pages and posts to ask for email signups or offering a live chat option.
It boils down to what do you want users to do when they visit your website if it isn’t purchasing a product or service. Offering ebooks or webinars is also a tried and true tactic for getting users into your lead nurturing funnel. And, make sure a contact page exists and is easy to access from anywhere on your website.
Don’t forget to set these 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’re converting.
Lack of H1s and Metadata
Make sure you have an H1 and 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.
However, Google has every right to modify your listing in the search results based on the user’s search query and intent.
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 content. It can seem cumbersome to create original content when you know it already exists out there, but having duplicate content on your website will only hurt your SEO efforts.
Focusing Only On Certain Devices
Placing too much faith in the efficiency of mobile devices is a major pitfall for many designers. Ambiguity often leads designers to make rushed decisions about responsive web design. No device is perfect, especially at the rate new phones are being released.
So instead of relying solely on a smartphone or tablet to display your website properly, craft your content to look stellar on any device. When you’re done, make sure to use tools like Browerstack to test the functionality of your site across multiple devices at once.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. Google wants your website to be user-friendly above all else. 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 inlined underneath the fold.
Proper web design is a must for any business that wants to attract customers from all connected devices and assist your SEO 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.