Common Web Design Mistakes that Affect SEO
Assume that you invested quite some effort and time in designing your official website.
You finalized an impressive theme and implemented your branding guidelines with care.
You even adorned it with a compelling copy.
But now, your site isn’t drawing adequate visitors. And it isn’t ranking anywhere up till the 3rd page on Google.
Surely your site’s SEO is to be blamed. Moreover, there can be several web design mistakes that are shackling your SEO efforts.
So, let’s dive deeper to check these mistakes and how to fix them.
Your Page Loading Speed is Low
Are you selling something that has never been sold before or by anyone else? Or are you spilling out alien secrets that even Elon Musk would love to know?
If not, what makes you think you can hold back the visitors if your site takes forever to load?
Google has made page load speed a crucial ranking factor. And its 2021 Page Experience
Update considers page load time and page response time crucial for SEO.
Dotcom-Monitor reports that 75% of visitors will bounce back if the site doesn’t load within 3 seconds.
So, if your site’s load time exceeds Google’s recommended: 3-second window, you need to fix it.
The use of large images, plugins, and the number of media files, all affect your page speed.
Moreover, even the wrong WordPress theme can slow down your site.
That said, keep your plugins to the minimum and optimize your media files. Some popular and tested WordPress themes include Hello Elementor, OceamWP, Astra, etc.
Avoid using any sluggish theme just for the sake of impressive visuals. Instead, use fast-loading themes like the ones suggested above.
Stuffing Your Site with Many Images and Large Media Files
We want our sites to look impressive, and what’s better than stunning images?
Images are crucial for a site’s user experience and even for informed decision-making.
66% of online shoppers buy a product by reviewing at least three images of that product.
But what adds up here is that large images and media files affect a site’s load speed.
Now, you can check your site’s speed on Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. And it will show your page speed along with image optimization suggestions.
If you find large images and media files, you can replace these files. You can also eliminate unnecessary or extra images and compress the other images.
If it is a WordPress site, use the WP Smush plugin to compress the images. The plugin can compress the new images in the background.
You Disregard Web Design Fundamentals for Creativity
It is good to get rid of the mundane web design formats and build a unique identity for your brand.
However, you must not disregard or ditch some web design fundamentals. You cannot discard a navigation panel, remove a footer, or defy proper internal linking.
By making any such changes, you are confusing a user’s journey on your site. And it affects your overall site experience and increases your site’s bounce rate.
Google crawlers will fail to navigate your site smoothly, hurting your SEO.
You still have all the room for creativity; just steer carefully around the elements impacting your UX.
You Haven’t Optimized for the Mobile Platform.
So, you made sure your site looks impressive on the desktop, but what about the mobile platform?
Google might want you to rethink!
Smartphones make up over 70% of all digital media consumption in the U.S.
You wouldn’t want to miss out on the mobile audience.
See how we have optimized our website for all platforms.
Now, Google notices that the mobile audience surpasses the web each year. And the search engine was quick to introduce the mobile-first indexing update.
This update instructs crawlers to prioritize the indexing of the mobile version of a site.
So, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you cannot expect it to rank in the SERPs. Pretty rude, right?
Fret not; you can always make your site mobile-friendly with small design & coding efforts.
Do not forget to check your site’s mobile compatibility with Google’s Mobile-friendly Test Tool.
You are Adding the Text Directly Into the Images
Images grow your site’s visual appeal, so why not add the text directly?
Because Google wouldn’t spend time reading it, it wouldn’t help in your SE
Instead, it would appreciate if you added the text over an image, thus comprehending it easily.
So, if you have added your H1 text into an image, it is significantly affecting your SEO.
Moreover, you must always add descriptions to your images and media files.
Crawlers use this description to comprehend an image or a media file, thus appreciating its SEO value.
Alt tags on your images allow them to rank for the relevant terms in Google Image Search. And relevant keywords in the Alt text add to your page’s SEO value.
Meanwhile, the infographics and video files must have descriptions or even text transcripts.
Your descriptions will add content and SEO value to your media files.
Adding Disruptive Pop-ups, iframes, and Flash Elements
You might have seen creative iframes and flash elements doing all rounds on some sites. However, these elements might do more harm to your site than good.
Users are unlikely to appreciate you juggling with their site experience unless you are exceptionally good at it.
Moreover, search engines also find these elements off-putting.
Pop-ups, on the other end, are crucial for conversions and interactions.
See how the search engine journal pops up when a user tries to exit the page.
Elegant pop-ups can help you earn 1,375% more email subscribers.
However, you must consider your pop-ups’ timing and design.
You wouldn’t want to disrupt a user’s browsing experience and compel him to bounce back.
This will affect your SEO and conversions.
And so, here are some tips to leverage pop-ups profitably:
Keep your pop-ups crisp and uncluttered. Enhance their conversion potential through A/B testing.
- Do not trigger a popup as soon as a visitor takes the first glimpse of your page. Give him time to comprehend your page’s context and content.
- You can place your pop-ups after a visitor has spent at least 15-20 seconds on your page.
- Or you can set a trigger to unleash pop-ups once a user has scrolled half-past the page length.
E-commerce businesses use personalization for making highly converting pop-ups. That said, try to include personalization in your pop-ups.
You Are Betting on Thin Content
If you are betting on thin content, it might take you nowhere, at least not on the 1st page of Google.
Some businesses wish to steal the show in the SERPs with their single-page sites. But, if you are trying to rank for multiple services or keywords, you need multiple pages.
You must try to stick to a single keyword set for a single page. And so, it makes sense to produce dedicated pages for your different products or service offerings.
Moreover, avoid trying to adorn your service pages with thin content.
Your content should be of appropriate length, complemented with images, and keyword-targeted.
It must comply with the E-A-T factor (Expertise, Authoritativeness, & Trustworthiness).
Google is a connoisseur of valuable content and appreciates great content efforts. That said, search engines reward genuine content efforts with stellar rankings.
You Kept Your Audience Guessing with No H1 Tag
So, you were so infused with your creative design idea that you missed out on the H1 tag.
Your H1 tag displays the purpose of your site or your business.
Do you know who else you kept guessing about your business other than the visitors? – The crawlers.
While crawling, crawlers first look for a site’s H1 to comprehend its purpose. And if they do not find an H1 tag, they aren’t backing you up with your SEO efforts.
You can use tools like SEMrush to find missing H1 tag opportunities.
The right practice is to add a crisp and clear H1 tag. It must help onlookers understand your site’s purpose within 5 seconds.
Also, ensure you add your primary keyword to the H1 tag and it appears above the fold.
Doing away with an H1 tag increases your bounce rate and significantly hurts your SEO.
Adding the Infinite Scroll Feature
Some websites enable visitors to continue scrolling indefinitely. As soon as they are about to hit bottom, they can witness new content loading.
This infinite scroll feature, though, looks impressive and fails to impress the search engines.
Crawlers use the navigation panel and link to crawl through your website.
And they cannot scroll past the default page. So, they only index the pre-loaded, default content on the page.
If you have a significant amount of content beyond the default page, bots don’t crawl it. And so, its SEO value remains unutilized.
So, if you use the infinite scroll feature on your site, limit its use.
Google Search Console Tool offers specific optimization instructions for the infinite scroll feature.
Sending Site Visitors Away Unintentionally
Have you scrutinized the main exit pages on your site?
You might send your visitors away from your site owing to some loopholes.
Some ill-placed exit points can be:
- A Downloadable PDF file
If a user can directly download a pdf file from your page on his mobile, he instantly exists to check it.
Instead, you can open the pdf in the new tab or email it to the visitor. This way, you also earn new prospect Ids and email subscribers.
- Linking to External Sources In the Same Tab
It is good to link back to authoritative sources. But you cannot send away your visitors to external sites without giving them a path to return.
Some sites open the external links in the same tab, becoming the main exit points.
Instead, open the external links in new tabs, so the visitor stays on your site.
Lacking Proper CTAs On Webpages
So, you have developed a stunning website with engaging content. And you are even drawing decent traffic, but you are still battling low conversions.
In this case, you need to assess your conversion windows or the CTAs.
- Are you keeping your forms too early on the page?
- Are there inadequate CTA buttons on your webpage?
- Does the user has to scroll down to the footer until he finds a CTA?
- Are you keeping disruptive pop-up forms that are increasing the bounce rate on your site?
A lack of proper CTAs will reduce the interaction on your site and increase the bounce rate. It has a considerable negative impact on your site’s SEO.
To check your CTA performance, you must add these CTAs as goals in your Google Analytics.
Analytics data and Hotjar heatmaps can help you assess the user metrics. Based on the user metrics, you must optimize your CTAs and their positions on the page.
Not Defining a 404 Page
What if a potential lead makes a typo (error) in your site’s URL and lands on a “This site can’t be reached” page?
This can be annoying, and he might not search again for this page.
Or, if your site has a broken link and takes visitors to the same “This site can’t be reached” page?
They will likely close the tab altogether and may not revisit your site.
A 404 Page can come in handy here.
You must have a 404 page to tell these visitors where to go next.
Take a look at this 404-page from ahrefs.
Put a good amount of thought into designing a 404 page. A good 404 page can delight the page visitors and motivate them to continue their search.
Google also recommends creating a 404 page on your site for a consistent user experience.
Importance of SEO-friendly Website Design
a) To Deliver an Impressive Customer Experience
While you optimize your site for Google, it wants you to first optimize for the real users.
So, if you wish to impress Google, ensure that you bring the best experience to the site visitors.
Some of the best SEO practices aim at enhancing the user experience. These practices include:
- Removing disruptive pop-ups and flash elements from your site.
- Optimizing your site loading speed up to 3 seconds.
- Optimizing for mobile-first indexing so that mobile users enjoy a seamless experience.
- Adding an optimized H1 tag, so the user comprehends the purpose of the site at first glance.
- Creating a seamless navigation panel to browse through the site.
- Defining a 404 page so a lost visitor knows the step ahead.
- Offering consistent user experience across every pixel on the site.
SEO web design practices allow you to kill two birds with the same stone. They ensure impressive customer experience along with significant SEO value.
b) To Attract Highly Relevant Organic Traffic to Your Site
Organic traffic forms over 53% of the average site traffic across the web.
Moreover, searchers prefer to scroll down and click on the organic results in the SERPs.
So, if you succeed in ranking on the 1st page of Google, there is no looking back.
You do not have to invest heavily in paid ads, and you can curtail your marketing cost significantly.
Moreover, organic rankings aren’t volatile. They don’t disappear as soon as your campaign budget exhausts.
Not to mention, you certainly draw high-quality traffic if you rank for the right keywords.
But what helps you rank in the SERPs is SEO-friendly web design.
SEO-friendly web design practices contribute impressively to your SEO performance. Some important practices include:
- Optimizing the images on your site and compressing large media files- This practice curtails the page loading delay owing to large media files.
- Defying thin content and producing quality, keyword-targeted content.
- Adding Alt tags to images and descriptions to other media files- This practice instructs crawlers about the purpose of the images or media files used on a page.
- Constructing the right internal linking structure- This practice ensures seamless crawlability, indexing, and consistent link equity.
c) To Optimize Your Site for High Conversion Rate
Converting your site visitors is as valuable as attracting high-quality traffic.
And SEO-friendly web design helps you strike the right balance between these parameters.
SEO web design is crucial in conversion rate optimization (CRO).
It makes the customer experience seamless on your site. And it encourages them to take the desired call to action.
Some crucial SEO web design practices that help in conversion rate optimization include:
- Defining seamless user journey through internal linking and navigation panel.
- Minimize a buying cycle’s length by removing unnecessary steps (and clicks).
- Placing optimized CTAs at the right places on your site and tracking them as goals in Analytics.
- Encouraging micro-conversions with lightbox, sign-up forms, downloadable materials, quizzes, etc.
- Dedicated site optimization for the mobile traffic
Website Design Mistakes & SEO FAQs
Q1. Is My Site’s Design Hindering My SEO Performance in Any Particular Way?
Ans. To your surprise, your site’s design can significantly affect your SEO performance. Here are some web design mistakes that won’t ever let you rank on the 1st page of Google:
- Annoyingly slow site speed. One reason for this can be large, non-optimized media files.
- The site isn’t optimized for mobile devices. Google follows mobile-first indexing, and you must not miss such a crucial ranking factor.
- No H1 Tag on the main page; Google bots and users need H1 tags to comprehend your site’s context.
- Missing a defined navigation panel and improper internal linking structure
Q2. What SEO Web Design Parameters I Most Likely to Miss Out On?
Ans. While you have optimized your site, there might still be some SEO factors that you have probably skipped. These include:
- Using an infinite scroll feature without optimizing for it.
- Not having a 404 page on your site, which is annoying the lost visitors.
- Adding text to the image instead of over the image.
- Thin content on the product/service pages.
- Use of disruptive pop-ups that are triggering a high bounce rate.
Q3. Is It Viable to Relate SEO-friendly Web Design with Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?
Ans. Yes, SEO web design significantly contributes towards conversion rate optimization.
You can grow your CRO with SEO web design practices like:
- Defining a clear navigation path
- Shortening the buying cycle
- Creating and adding optimized CTAs and pop-ups on the pages.
- Optimizing your site’s loading speed and mobile compatibility
Cristian Ward is the CEO of Sandiegoseo.company With a strong data analysis and strategy development background, Cristian specializes in helping businesses increase their online visibility and drive sales through targeted campaigns.