Beauty & Brains in Branding & Web

5 Common Web Design Factors that Hurt SEO

Design Features that Hurt SEOYou may have invested a lot of time and money into your website. The design is looking great, navigation is smooth, and you even have social sharing buttons. But something’s not right: where is all the traffic?

An all too frequent web design mistake is to ignore the importance of SEO. While your site may look top notch, no one is going to know if they can’t find you. Think of SEO like real estate. You may have the best restaurant in the country, but if you’re dishing out your delicacies in an abandoned back alley beneath an auto parts shop, chances are, no one will ever even know you exist.

As the old adage goes: location, location, location. The same can be said for websites. The best web real estate is the front page of Google search results. The question is, what is stopping you from getting there? You may be making some common web design mistakes that are hurting your SEO and sending you closer to the alley…

1. Keyword-Weak Text

Keywords are the foundation of building a solidly optimized website. Keywords tell Google that your site has the information that searchers are looking for. The key, then, is to know which terms people are searching in your industry, and incorporating these into your website content. How do you figure out which terms are best? Take advantage of some nifty free tools like Google AdWords Keyword Tool to compare different keywords.

2. Poor Use of Heading Tags

Heading tags (also called H tags) are part of the html code of your website. They indicate which part of the text is the main headline, which part is a sub headline, and so on. More often than not, the main headline indicates what the text beneath is about. For example, if an article is called: “Web Design Factors that Hurt SEO”, you would assume that the article discusses SEO, web design, and various web features (right you are!). Google works the same way: text found in H1 (main headline) text, will be ascribed a higher importance for keywords. This means that you should put keywords and only keywords into your H1 tag. This also means that your website shouldn’t include:

  • An H1 tag with your company logo or name
  • Too many H1 tags
  • An H1 tag with too much text
  • H1 tags used for styling purposes

3. Slow Page Load Times

“Faster sites create happy users.” This is a statement by Google, and it pretty much sums up why page load speed is critical to your web success. Not only does it create a much better user experience (there is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a page to load!), but Google actually takes your page load speed into account when ranking your page. You may be partial to fancy graphics and animations, but if it’s slowing down your page, it’s time to give them the boot!

Some design elements that will slow down your page:

  • Single background image with fixed width/height
  • Flash and Java
  • Images that aren’t properly sized for web
  • Overuse of widgets
  • More

4. Unclear URL and File Names

Which site seems more appealing?


Both these links discuss Montreal’s best ice cream, but from the URL of the first one, you’d never know. On the other hand, the second link tells you that if you’re looking for a delicious snack in Montreal, you’re about to discover exactly where to go. Descriptive URL and file names give your users a better idea of what to expect and this makes them more confident to click. Google understands this, and accordingly, URL and file name text is part of your page ranking. Be sure to include descriptive keywords in these areas and keep your URL short and sweet!

5. Flash Elements

Flash is an SEO nightmare. There are a whole host of problems associated with flash elements:

  • Google can’t read them
  • They aren’t mobile-friendly
  • They create multiple usability problems
  • Many users disable flash

While there may be a few benefits to using flash, your best bet is to avoid it altogether.

Avoid these common web design mistakes to boost your SEO and enhance your web real estate. With a just a few adjustments, you can dig your webpage out from the back alleys of the web and get onto Main Street – Google’s front page!

Has this article improved your website’s SEO? Do you have any other tips to enhancing a web page’s real estate? Let us know in the comments below!

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About The HTC Team

The HTC team works together to fuse elegant design and usable functionality. We are proud of our personal approach, innovative talent and ambitious attitude. But we’re more than just an industry-leading company. We are left-right brainers, trend-spotters, explorers, leaders, strategists and sometimes we’re simply beer connoisseurs. Check out what’s inspiring us today!

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