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November 13, 2013

Web Design vs. SEO: The Yin and Yang of Website Structure

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Photo Credit: tstadler via flickr

To average Internet users, gauging how great a website is can be limited to how visually pleasing it is and how easy it is to navigate. While this is fundamentally true, Web designers and specialists of search engine optimization (SEO) have brought this issue to a higher form of dispute in the form of extensive discussions in online communities and numerous articles, substantiating one while refuting the other.

The thing is, both sides are actually armed with valid points. In a manner of speaking, the time it took trying to figure out which is better between Web design and SEO has reached an impasse. In fact, Moz founder Rand Fishkin himself said that half of the battle to achieving a search engine-friendly website is great design. On the one hand, a website is only as good as how manageable it is. Visitors can overlook a website that it is difficult to navigate even if it looks good.

As such, the question which between Web design and SEO should be prioritized remains pertinent and the subject of many forums. When it comes to creating a website, what kind of beauty is more important? Is it the one that is superficial or the kind that goes deep under the hood?

Web Design

It’s hard to ignore a creative website especially if it’s original and it appeals to multiple senses. When Web design became the thing every techy person wanted to learn, this discipline started evolving into a form of art. Now, the basis of an artistic website is something that not only stimulates the eye—it should also be so good that users can almost taste it.

However, landing on one of the most coveted spots of the search engine results page (SERP) can pose as a problem for these kinds of sites. More often than not, websites that are impressive in the aesthetics department are also the ones that are willing to sacrifice rankings, a virtue many SEO practitioners live, eat, and breathe. But here’s the deal: for your site to be viewed by more potential customers, you need to make its relationship with search engines friendlier. We’re not saying that you abandon your imagination and succumb completely to SEO. But at the same time, you need to be reminded of these things if you want to generate better traffic by sticking to fantastic Web design.

  • Go mobile.
    With the pervasiveness of Smartphones and other portable Internet-abled devices, being online nearly all the time is rapidly becoming a norm. People don’t need to stay glued to their desktop computers to stay connected or to shop online. All they need is to connect their gadgets to the Wi-Fi and browse. It’s only wise that you design a mobile version of your  site. It also helps if it looks like the original site since it helps customers remember your brand’s colors and style. In addition, make sure that the mobile variety loads quickly or anywhere within the 10-second window.
  • Make Calls-to-Action Prominent.
    The spiders of search engines will surely look for your site’s calls-to-action to make sure that they’re conspicuously displayed on your site. A site that tries to engage customers’ attention by making them do something is appealing to search engines, so it’s important your site has these kinds of links to crawl.
  • Make the Site Load Quickly.
    Many visually tasteful websites are fashioned using a lot of photos, graphics, and other elements that can slow down the loading of the site. Keep in mind that the speed at which a website loads effects the interest of the users. A site that takes forever to complete in the browser can be detrimental to the engagement and possible conversion the site can make.

Search Engine Optimization

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ring, it’s not easy to forget websites that appear on the first SERP. If beautifully-crafted websites excite the consciousness, the ones that give all the relevant information to a query appeal to the intelligence. At times, these sites can be the results to virtually every keyword related to the users’ search. This is why SEO specialists are so adamant about optimizing every component that comprises a website’s architecture, contents, and other details under the hood.

The tricky part is that, at times, highly optimized websites are often weak in the design district. Many SEO practitioners believe that too graphic a Web design can get in the way of a site to achieve high rankings and thus lower its visibility in the search engines. So how you do strike a balance between SEO and Web design? Here are some ideas.

  • Utilize keywords wisely.
    Fortunately, keywords still haven’t lost their flare when it comes to SEO. These days, however, search engines prefer if the keywords come in long-tail form and if they are linked naturally.
  • Use different types of content.
    Articles are no longer the only type of content that you can turn into an asset. To make your site the go-to place of users who belong to your niche, create other types of content. Infographics and videos are highly shareable in social networking sites and these can bring a lot of traffic to your site. You can also produce white papers and other downloadable materials your target audience may find beneficial.
  • Maximize social media.
    Speaking of social networking, another way you can invite more visitors to your website is by establishing an active online presence in social media sites. Social outposts such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest are ideal places to interact with your target audience. Just make sure that you post relevant and engaging stuff since your goal is to drive them to your site.

Two Roads, One Destination

Whether you accept it or not, Web design and SEO are meant to live side-by-side. A website cannot truly succeed without both, but too much of either can also be damaging. With that said, it’s crucial that you explain this to your clients so you can help them make a sound decision on how to perk up their sites. Many will want the best of both worlds, so be ready to achieve equilibrium when creating their websites.


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About the Author: Carrina Candice is a business writer. Her specialty is writing about general business, marketing and branding. Catch her on Twitter @iamcayester

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