Web designers focus mainly on creating attractive, beautifully laid out websites. They are mostly thinking about the audience, making sure the website is responsive and compatible with all browsers.

It therefore falls upon SEO specialists to help clients understand that SEO should form part of the web design and development process. It shouldn’t be an afterthought or something that is fixed or taken care of after the process of web design is complete.

Client expectations

When they want a website to be designed, most clients have an assumption that it will get ranked on search engines based on the keywords they have included. It is important to understand that there are specific steps to take before and during the design process to ensure the site meets required search engine requirements.

Building a website that is SEO-friendly needs careful planning and a structured approach. SEO falls into two main categories:

1 – On-page SEO which should make up 30% of it. On-page SEO is about semantics, web architecture, content and how a website is coded. As a web designer, on-page SEO is what you should be focused on.

2 – Off-page SEO which should account for 70% of optimization. It is concerned with content marketing and link building.

Meeting your SEO needs

Your goals for your website will determine the best approach to designing your website with SEO- optimization in mind.

a) If you’re a service provider such as a wedding planner, electrician, plumber, locksmith, property agent and you want your website to be ranked on search engines for non-branded keywords. Or if you are selling niche products that have relatively generic brand names.

b) If you’re looking for a creative site and you want to be ranked on search engines for your brand name. This would apply if your brand is already very well established.

c) If you get most of your business through referral and offline marketing. This would apply to doctors, lawyers and local businesses that are well known in their areas of operation.

Fundamentals of a well-optimized website design

Whichever client you are building a website for, the following are fundamentals that you need to incorporate:

Domains

The primary domain may be yourbusinessname.com but there can be others. It is important to ensure that a client’s domain and what you do are related and make sense. You should also ensure that the variations and subdomains lead readers to the main website and redirect to a single canonical version of the website.

Hosting

Quality hosting is important because a slow website is often abandoned. Quality would mean minimal downtime and a website that opens fast when browsers are navigating the different pages. You also need to be platform-specific if possible. A good example is SolentCIS which provides a platform made for WordPress and specifically for UK businesses.

CMS

Another fundamental is the Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is ideal because Google works very well with this platform and is very widely used.

Get it right

80% of website traffic comes from search engines. If you don’t design with optimizing for search engines in mind, that website will be getting very little traffic or none at all. This is why there are websites that win awards for design but don’t rank on search engines. Incorporating SEO into website design makes all the difference.