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    SEO Website Design

    Everything you need to know about building a website that ranks highly in search.

    Search engines are the gateways for buyers to discover your solutions, so your website must rank well in search.

    This guide covers the core principles for designing a search engine-optimised website that effectively attracts your target audience.

    seo website design
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    What is SEO website design?

    SEO (search engine optimisation) website design refers to designing and developing a website in ways that will improve its visibility and ranking in search engines like Google.

    The overall goal is to improve discoverability, traffic acquisition, and conversions by having pages rank higher in organic search engine results pages (SERPs), primarily Google which has over 90% of the search market share. An SEO-optimised website is designed to favour both the needs of human visitors as well as algorithms that search engines use for assessing relevance and quality of pages.

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    Why is SEO website design important?

    SEO website design is extremely important for businesses looking to drive growth because of the vital role search engines like Google have in connecting people to relevant information, products, and services online. Studies show that over 50% of website traffic comes from organic search. If people can't find your website through search, you miss out on a significant customer acquisition channel.

    Increase high-quality website traffic

    A search engine-optimised website helps maximise the number of relevant organic search visits, enabling businesses to attract more of their target audience without paying for ads. When potential customers search for products or services using relevant keywords, a well-optimised page shows up prominently in search ranking. This increases the likelihood of visitors becoming leads and customers.

    Ranking on the first page for high-volume keywords can send thousands of qualified visitors to your site each month. Good SEO website design also extends into user experience, ensuring a seamless user experience for visitors, encouraging them to convert into customers and drive revenue growth.

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    Website crawlability

    Crawlability is the first step in SEO website design. It refers to the ability of search engine bots to easily discover and crawl the pages on your website. It's an essential factor for getting your content indexed and ranked in search results.

    Search engines like Google use automated crawlers, often called "spiders" or "bots," to navigate websites and systematically analyse their pages. If your site has good crawlability, these bots can efficiently access and crawl all the important pages and content. Factors like site architecture, internal linking, and adherence to technical best practices all contribute to making a website highly crawlable for search engines.


    Semrush - Crawlability & Indexability: What They Are & How They Affect SEO

    Understanding what search engine crawlers look for as they index webpages is core to effective SEO website design. Optimising content by ensuring crawlability for bots enables higher rankings. Some key elements that impact rankings include:

    Heading tags (H1, H2, H3)

    Proper use of heading tags like H1, H2, H3 aids crawlability by providing semantic structure that helps search engine crawlers better navigate and interpret a page's content.

    The different heading levels indicate topic hierarchy, making it easier for crawlers to understand the main topics covered as well as the relationship between supporting subtopics.

    Heading tags also serve as relevance signals that influence a page's ranking potential.

    Search engines look at headings to reinforce the main topics a page covers and the context of each section. Having target keywords represented in applicable headings (especially the H1) can help solidify relevance for those terms. But headings should summarise the respective content sections accurately rather than be stuffed with keywords unnaturally.

    Internal linking

    A solid internal linking structure guides search engine crawlers through your site, allowing them to easily discover and crawl all pages.

    For ranking, internal links signal the relative importance of different content to search engines. Pages with more internal links pointing to them are seen as more valuable.

    Using keywords in internal link anchor text to indicate to crawlers that the linked page contains content related to those keywords and can increase rankings.


    Metadata plays an important role in search engine optimisation by providing essential information about web pages to search engine crawlers. Elements like title tags and meta descriptions help crawlers understand the content and context of a page, facilitating efficient indexing.

    Metadata also impacts how pages appear in search results. By adding keywords naturally into your metadata, you can improve the visibility of your pages in search engine results pages (SERPs).

    Website architecture

    A well-architected website with clear structure makes it easier for search engine crawlers to discover and index all the important pages. This means that search engines can better understand the hierarchy and relationship between different pages, which can positively impact the website's visibility in search results. Additionally, a logical website architecture helps distribute authority and relevance throughout the site more effectively, ensuring that valuable SEO attributes, such as backlinks and internal linking, are spread evenly across all pages. 

    This means creating a categorised, hierarchical URL structure that's simple for crawlers to follow, for example:


    Website indexability

    The indexability of a webpage refers to the ability of search engines, like Google, to add the page to their index – a massive database of billions of web pages. This process is called indexing, and it's a crucial step that allows your website's pages to be ranked and displayed in search results.

    Indexing happens after crawling, which is when search engine bots discover and analyse the content of your web pages. Once a page is crawled, search engines like Google will index it, adding it to their database for potential inclusion in search results.

    To ensure that your web pages can be effectively indexed, there are several steps you can take:

    Configure your robots.txt file correctly

    The robots.txt file is a set of instructions that tells search engine crawlers which areas of your website they can and cannot access. Ensure that your robots.txt file is not blocking important pages or directories from being crawled and indexed.


    Cloudflare: What is robots.txt?

    Update and submit your XML sitemap

    An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the important pages on your website, making it easier for search engines to discover and crawl them. Regularly updating and submitting your XML sitemap to search engines can help ensure that new or updated content is quickly indexed.


    Focus on creating original, high-quality content

    Search algorithms want to deliver high-quality, unique content to searchers. Duplicate or scraped content does not add value. Google will generally only rank one instance of copied text, so original content is key for SEO value.

    Optimise technical aspects

    Factors like site speed, mobile-friendliness, and a secure connection (HTTPS) can affect how easily search engines can access and index your pages. Ensure that your website is technically optimised for search engines.

    Attract high-quality backlinks

    Backlinks from reputable and relevant websites can signal to search engines that your content is valuable and worth indexing. However, avoid practices like link buying or participating in link schemes, as these can result in penalties.

    ahref-backlink report-min

    Ahrefs backlink report

    Properly handle HTTP status codes

    The way you handle redirects and broken links can influence how search engines index your site.

    301 redirects: When you permanently move a page to a new URL, implement a 301 (permanent) redirect. This tells search engines that the page has been permanently relocated, allowing them to transfer any ranking signals to the new URL and index the new location.

    404 errors: If a page on your site returns a 404 (not found) error, it indicates to search engines that the page no longer exists. While an occasional 404 is normal, too many can signal to search engines that your site has a lot of broken pages, which can negatively impact indexing and rankings. Aim to fix or redirect any pages returning 404 errors.

    Effectively tagging multi-lingual pages

    For multilingual websites, implementing hreflang tags is crucial for proper indexing by search engines. Hreflang tags help indicate the language and regional targeting of different versions of the same content.

    Without hreflang tags, search engines may have trouble differentiating between language/regional versions, leading to issues like:

    • Indexing the wrong language version
    • Content duplication flags
    • Serving irrelevant versions to users
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    Content quality

    Optimising your website for search also means optimising for the human who's on your website.

    Google cares about Content written for the user (Google EEAT). This means creating content that provides value, depth and comprehension on topics that serve users' needs.

    When writing content it should:

    • Be a suitable length covering a topic comprehensively in an appropriate word count can help rankings. 
    • Present information in a straightforward manner avoid hiding the essential details that visitors are seeking. Show it promptly to assist them in finding the solution they need.
    • Be easy to read sentence and paragraph length should be digestible and easy to consume rather than overly long and dense.

    When formatting content it should:

    • Be skimmable users are known to skim-read web pages looking for the information they need.
    • Be easy to consume use formatting like blockquotes and bullet points to improve readability.
    • Have an appropriate font size body text should be 16px minimum to be easily read.
    • Have an appropriate font style fonts should accessible on the web and be clear and easy to read.
    • Be accessible for all users - ensure good accessibility through colour contrast and font sizes to accommodate different vision levels.

    Website navigation

    Website navigation plays a key part in SEO website design. It needs to be intuitive for users and easily crawlable for search bots.

    Being crawlable means enabling search robots to follow the links within a website's navigation. Including relevant keywords in anchor text can help search bots understand the content of linked pages better, but it's crucial to maintain a natural flow and avoid keyword stuffing.

    Additionally, breadcrumb navigation is particularly beneficial for websites with extensive content, as it helps visitors track their location within the site hierarchy and aids search crawlers in understanding content topics and relationships across different pages.

    But most importantly, the navigation must prioritise the user experience. It needs to be intuitive and easy to use, which involves:

    • Using device-appropriate navigation: such as using horizontal navigation for desktop and hamburger menus for mobile devices, to ensure an optimal experience across different screen resolutions.
    • Keeping the navigation uncluttered and focused: present only the most essential links to help users find what they need without feeling overwhelmed.
    • Displaying links in a logically: align links with the typical buyer journey, providing an intuitive path to your most important content as users navigate through the website.
    • Maintaining a clear visual hierarchy within dropdown and mega menus: make it easier for users to grasp the organisation and relationships between different sections or categories.
    • Incorporating contextual calls-to-action (CTAs) within the navigation: ensure any CTAs include specific actions to avoid any ambiguity about what's on offer.

    By balancing SEO considerations with user-centric design principles, effective website navigation will enhance the overall user experience, improve crawlability and indexability, and contribute to the success of your website website.

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    Design considerations

    Your website's design plays a significant role in creating positive user experiences that build trust and authority for SEO. Design choices also impact performance factors like site speed which search engines measure as ranking signals. Some key website design considerations that enhance both visitor engagement and optimisation for search include:

    Image size & format

    Images are one of the primary causes of slow page load times if not optimised properly. Images must be compressed using tools that reduce file size while maintaining quality. Choose web-friendly formats like JPEG and advanced options like WebP that improve the quality-to-file size ratio. Properly sized, optimised images not only enhance site speed but also improve user experience. Ensuring images load quickly keeps visitors engaged rather than abandoning slow-loading pages.

    Check how your website performs in Google PageSpeed Insights to see if there are opportunities to compress images.

    Video & animation

    Minimise bandwidth-heavy elements like video and limit them to key pages where it enhances user value. Wherever possible, look for speed optimisations through compression and hosting solutions. When it comes to animation, consider using Lottie file format as the small file sizes provide better performance that aids page loading speed.


    Popups can disrupt the user experience if overused or implemented poorly. So ensuring popups and modals are easily dismissible and do not obstruct access to main content, particularly on mobile devices, is crucial. Considering alternatives like inline content sections or accordions may provide a better user experience in certain contexts.


    Following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is crucial to ensuring that your website is accessible to users with disabilities, including those with visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor impairments.

    This involves implementing good colour contrast, keyboard navigation, and screen reader compatibility, among other accessibility features. Additionally, improving the overall user experience by providing alternative text descriptions, captions, and transcripts for multimedia content (like image ALT tags) can benefit search rankings as well as user experience.


    Mobile design

    In today's mobile-first world, the mobile version of your website is a critical factor in how search engines like Google evaluate and rank your pages. For a truly mobile-friendly design that boosts your search engine visibility, you need to focus on:

    1. Mobile speed

    Optimising images, compressing files, and minimising the resources your mobile pages need to load can significantly improve loading times and provide a smoother experience for mobile users.

    2. Mobile user experience

    Ensure that your mobile site is easy to navigate and interact with. This includes clickable buttons and links with larger tap areas, intuitive navigation menus, and user-friendly form entry. Mobile users should be able to comfortably browse and complete actions on your site without frustration.

    3. Content readability

    Optimise your content for mobile screens by using appropriate font sizes, line lengths, and paragraph spacing. This improves accessibility and makes your content more readable on smaller displays.

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    Website performance

    Website performance, particularly speed, is indeed a confirmed Google ranking factor and optimising it is important.

    But it's important not to become overly fixated on achieving a perfect page speed score. While a fast website is desirable, what truly matters is providing a seamless experience that doesn't frustrate visitors and cause them to abandon your site.

    Balancing performance and design

    Website performance should be balanced with website design. Incorporating high-quality images, videos, and coding solutions can enhance the overall user experience, but they can also negatively impact performance.

    On the other hand, a website with minimal design elements and only text may rank well for speed but fail to engage visitors or generate leads effectively.

    Finding the right balance between performance and design is key.

    Factors that affect website performance

    But regardless of your design, there are several factors that affect website performance, and optimising them can have significant improvements.

    Factors  affecting website performance

    1. Streamline code

    Minifying and compressing your website's code (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) can reduce file sizes and improve load times.

    2. CMS/hosting platform

    Choosing a reliable and high-performance content management system (CMS) and hosting platform can have a substantial impact on your website's speed and overall performance.

    3. Image and file size

    Optimising images and other media files by compressing them and serving appropriately sized versions can significantly reduce page weight and improve load times.

    4. HTTP Requests

    Minimising the number of HTTP requests required to load your website can help reduce latency and improve performance, especially on mobile devices.

    Ask your developers to combine and minify CSS and JavaScript files. They should also implement effective caching policies for these files. These steps help reduce the number of HTTP requests needed to load your website.

    5. Browser caching

    Implementing browser caching can help reduce server load and improve subsequent page load times for returning visitors by storing certain website resources locally on their devices.

    Check with your developer that the “Cache-Control” and “Expires” headers are correctly set. This will ensure that your caching policy is working correctly.

    6. Content delivery networks (CDNs)

    Using a CDN can dramatically improve website performance by serving static content (images, CSS, JavaScript) from servers closer to the visitor's geographic location, reducing latency and improving load times.



    Schema markup is a structured data format that helps search engines better understand the content on your website. It provides additional context and meaning to the information on your web pages, making it easier for search engines to interpret and display it in more informative and visually appealing ways.

    It uses a set of standardised tags or microdata to describe the content on your web pages, such as articles, events, products, recipes, and more. This markup is added to the HTML code of your website, providing additional context and semantics to the existing content.


    Types of Schema

    Schema markup supports a wide range of content types, allowing you to enhance the way your website's information is displayed in search results. Some of the most commonly used types of Schema markup include:

    • Articles
    • Local Businesses
    • Products
    • Events
    • Recipes
    • Reviews
    • Videos
    • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Advantages of implementing Schema

    Incorporating Schema markup into your website's code offers several benefits for both users and search engines:

    1. Enhanced search visibility: By providing additional context to your content, Schema markup can help your website stand out in search results with rich snippets, Knowledge Graphs, and other visually appealing elements.
    2. Improved click-through rates: Rich snippets and other enhanced search result displays can increase the click-through rate (CTR) to your website, as users are more likely to click on results that provide more relevant and visually appealing information.
    3. Better user experience: Schema markup can improve the overall user experience by making it easier for search engines to understand and display your content in a more structured and accessible format.
    4. Increased credibility: By providing accurate and detailed information and reviews relating to your business, products, or services, Schema markup can enhance your website's credibility and establish trust with potential customers.
    5. Easier crawling for search engines: Schema markup helps search engine crawlers better understand the content and structure of your web pages, allowing them to more effectively index and rank your website.

    Get help with your website

    Your website is your most valuable marketing asset, and creating a highly-optimised website is no easy task.

    We've helped hundreds of businesses to create websites that attract and engage their target audience, leading to huge increases in business revenue. 

    Discover why businesses choose us to create their website.