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How to SEO your website design

Website looks great? Maybe to you it does but what about all those different devices out there, all those different screen size and all those different browsers?

You can't possibly hope to check them all and yet if your design is failing in some key areas it will drag down your rankings

Poor website design affects your rankings

Is your design Mobile Friendly?

How well your website displays on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) is key to Google. They call it Mobile first indexing. It doesn't matter if 95% of your visitors come from desktop computers your rankings will suffer if your design falls apart on a mobile device.

Websites that work in all screen sizes are known as Responsive.

You can carry out some basic checks on your design fast:

  1. Open your website using the Google Chrome browser
  2. Right hand click anywhere on the page and then select 'Inspect'
  3. A new window will open at the bottom or to the right of your screen.
  4. Look for the small icon (top right of the new window) which looks like a smartphone in front of a tablet. If you hover over it you will see the text 'Responsive Design Mode'. Left hand click on this.
  5. Just above your website a small bar will appear. The first option in the left of this bar is a select box.
  6. Click the select box and choose different devices to see how your website looks.

If your website falls apart or is so small you have to pinch and zoom to see anything then your design is not responsive. You'll need to sort this if you want the best rankings you can get.

Usually its just a case of tracking down a template for your platform - e.g. Google "WordPress Responsive site designs" and install your preferred option.

If your website isn't on a platform I'd recommend moving it to one. The cost of bespoke programming in order to be responsive is usually not worth it and besides it is pretty much re-inventing the wheel.

How clear is your text?

There was a fashion for putting lightish gray text on a slightly lighter gray background. It looked very smart at a glance but it was a pain in the arse to read.

Google loves users and it doesn't like users getting eye strain or headaches so it will ding your rankings for that sort of thing.

To find out if you are annoying Google this way:

  1. Open your website using the Google Chrome browser
  2. Right hand click anywhere on the page and then select 'Inspect'
  3. A new window will open at the bottom or to the right of your screen.
  4. Look for the menu (top left of the new window) which starts Elements,Console, Sources, etc.
  5. Left hand click on 'Audits' and make sure that only the 'Accessibility' box is ticked.
  6. JLeft hand click 'Run audits' and scroll down to the heading 'Contrast' which will tell you if and where you have issues.

You may be able to change these contrasts from within your Platform, most WordPress themes have a way to do this in their settings - otherwise you will need a techie to resolve the issues.

There is a ton of stuff in Google audits, we'll revisit this many times throughout the guide but don't get distracted by it now. All will be revealed!

How fast does your design load?

With Internet users becoming increasingly mobile search engines (Google especially) have become obsessed with keeping this group ultra happy.

They might not all have the latest iPhone or be hooked up to a superfast WiFi connection and Google knows it so when it is deciding who should rank higher loading speed is a major factor.

Unfortunately this is where many platforms like WordPress have the potential to fall down. With all the different plugins and features they become bloated with code, code which is not needed on many of the site's pages.

Just Google "fast loading wordpress themes" to see how many theme developers out there are focusing on speed.

A great way to test themes for your platform is with the Pingdom Website Speed Test so you can compare performance side by side. In many cases you can just test the demo pages of a theme to get a feel for the difference between the theme you currently have installed and the one you are considering.

Don't get proud here - you may love the theme you originally chose but if it is loading like a snail scaling the side of a brick then it is dragging your rankings down.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

Find me on Facebook or get in touch if you need help.

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