UX and SEO: How Thoughtful Website Design Can Improve Your SEO

If good content is the key factor for getting your site found by search engines—a process known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEOhow you present that content is a close second. Here are four best practices for an exceptional experience for your site visitors, that will also boost your odds of ranking higher in search results.

1. Identify Your Headings

Search engines prioritize sites whose content is easy to find and identify. Headings can help here. What's a heading? Put simply, it's an HTML "marker" that tells a browser what's on the page. Each heading is represented as a tag in code — from H1 (the contents of a whole page) all the way to H6 (a subsection of a section on a page). Your headings should have a clear hierarchy.

Your H1 heading tells not only Google, but your site's visitors, what the most important title on your page is. While you may use H2-H6 tags multiple times on one page (or perhaps not at all), you should only use the H1 tag once. This should be the most important heading on that page and it's more than likely that page's title.

heading

Say you have a cooking website where you're sharing your best recipes for different flavors of ethnic food. Adding the H1 title "Spicy Thai recipes" to the page where you've listed instructions for cooking for your favorite Thai food tells Google where to send searchers looking for Thai recipes.

How to get this feature: Navigate to the SEO tab under Settings in the Site Editor and click on "Description and Keywords" and fill out the "Page Title" to create your H1 tag. Add a description and meta keywords to give search engines further context and improve your odds of getting found.

2. Navigation and Site Structure

If smart tagging makes finding the content on your site easier, good navigation and site structure make it easier for visitors to go further once they arrive. This includes having an easy-to-find and access menu on every site page.

Navigation should also be consistent throughout the site. Be absolutely sure that you aren't providing dead-ends within your site that leave visitors unclear on where to go next or how to get back to where they were.

navigation

Returning to the example of your cooking site, you could have a hierarchy that organizes your recipe first by region and then style. So, under "Asian dishes" you could have "Spicy Indian recipes," "Japanese sushi," and "Spicy Thai recipes." Your navigation would reflect the related options, inviting visitors to find more ideas.

How to get this feature: Navigate to the "Pages" tab in the Site Editor. Click and drag your created pages underneath each other or add new pages as you see fit; Weebly's navigation menus adjust automatically to reflect the order you create.

3. Healthy Site Speed That Encourages Engagement

There's no end to the studies that show websites that load faster perform better. An analysis from Skilled found that a 1-second improvement in site load time could increase daily revenue by up to 7 percent.

So, for example, if your cooking site generates $100,000 in daily revenue, investing to improve speed could net $7,000 more each day. And that makes sense, right? No matter how good or well-reviewed your e-book of "Top Secret Curry Recipes From India's Best Chefs" is, you won't get the orders you want if buyers have to wait too long to order.

On the other hand, a highly responsive site is more likely to encourage visitors to explore and spend more time looking at your content — exactly the sort of authority Google and Bing look for when ranking sites in search results.

How to get this feature: Smart design is the key boosting engagement and site speed. Mostly, you'll want to simplify: compress images, enable caching for returning visitors, and limit the code that needs loading before your page appears. Example: an embedded YouTube video that auto-plays on arrival. Executing that code can take time from loading the remainder of the page.

4. Mobile Focus

A recent study from Adobe Analytics found a 68 percent increase in smartphone web traffic in the U.S. from 2015 to 2018. Desktop and tablet both saw declines over the same period. The message? Rendering your site as fast and intuitively on smartphones as on a desktop or a tablet is key to maximizing your audience.

How to get this feature: Fortunately, every Weebly site is designed responsively to provide the best possible experience for smartphone visitors. Still, you needn't be complacent. Test your site's mobile speed with this tool from Google to be sure your site is performing at its best.

Good SEO is part art and part science, and that's never going to change. Don't let that deter you. A common sense design that includes well-crafted headings, intuitive navigation and fast response on both mobile and desktop will dramatically increase your odds of getting found.

Want even more tips for a healthy website? Give yourself a check-up with our starter SEO checklist.