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13 Points Every Web Designer Should Have in their 2016 SEO Checklist

In today’s world, web design and SEO go hand in hand. Without SEO, beautiful websites will go unnoticed as they rank lower in the SERPS. However, your website will become a sensation with the right approach to SEO.

Below are 13 points to have in mind about SEO:

1) Responsive Design

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 1An SEO-friendly site must be appealing to the eyes and at the same time be responsive. If it is attractive in every kind of device, you have a winner. With increased smartphone usage and Google’s mobile-focused algorithm, it is unwise to design a nonresponsive website in today’s age. In fact, it is useless.

2) URL Organization

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 2To have an SEO-friendly site, it is critical to have a clear URL formation. This is because search engines have a preference for unambiguous URLs. For example, if someone is looking for a bakery in New York, they would rather click www.companyname.com/bakery-new-york than an unclear URL like www.companyname.com/post id44930284. Google does not rate a link which is not user-friendly as valuable.

3) Speed is Key

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 3The modern internet user is comparatively more impatient than the one who was around a decade ago. With many tabs open at the same time, a website that takes long to load means reduced traffic and consequently, another customer lost. Slow speed will affect your viewership and ultimately harm your rankings on search engines. Ensure your images and videos are compressed or embedded, your plugins are up to date and every decision you make does not affect your loading speed. The consequence of not doing so will be a loss of valuable clients.

4) Minimal Use of JavaScript

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 4JavaScript helps designers make really cool websites. But search engines prefer a limited approach to JavaScript use. This means that if overdone, it may have negative effects on your desire to get high rankings.

5) Image Treatment

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 5Web design is about the use of space, images and colors to create an impactful visual effect. Big images have always impressed people. It is, however, important to optimize them by compressing them without compromising on quality. Another important thing you should do is add alt tags and descriptions to your images wherever possible.  It is all about creating and achieving a balance between being SEO-friendly and having a great-looking website.

6) Clear Instructions

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 6For a great user experience, provide clear instructions on what a user should do when and how. It is important to make it easy for them to move around and find things without any stress. Your shopping cart, subscription offer or any other important services should be located at an obvious and easy-to-see place. This may not really affect your website’s visibility directly but it does impact on your sales.

7) Cleaning Code

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 7The code allows you to do wonders with a website. There are, however, two pro tips that good designers work by:

  1. Don’t stuff the page with code. If overdone, it is difficult to understand what is happening
  2. A good developer should be able to create magic with minimal code.

Search engines find it difficult to recognize and rank websites with too much code. The bloated code makes it harder for search engine crawlers to easily recognize the page, which is very bad for SEO.

8) Using Flash

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 8Many a pro will recommend that you should have stopped using Flash some years ago. Its use has been on a decline over the years for a number of reasons. One of them is that most search engines and devices respond poorly to Flash. If you are a hardcore Flash fan, then use it minimally. Your rankings will definitely be affected if you use it on the complete website. There is no need to use Flash for your navigation. Lastly, do not use it on your text.

9) Easy Navigation for Everyone

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 9Easy navigation benefits you in two ways. One, your users get to enjoy their time on your website and consequently stay longer. Two, search engines have an easier time tracking your site. To achieve this, make sure your menus are functional and helpful to people of all ages. Link your pages well so that users can easily flow from one page to the next. The problem with poor navigation is the ease with which your users can move to the next tab.

10) Exploit CSS Image Sprites

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 10Take advantage of CSS Image Sprites to reduce the strain on your server. An image sprite is a group of images which are merged to form a big one. Compared to having many small images, it is quicker to download one large image. This also increases your website’s speed.

11) Printer-Friendly

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 11A printer-friendly website gives visitors freedom of choice and therefore a good experience. Some of your users would prefer to print the page for further reading, reviewing, archiving or a more leisurely reading experience.

For this reason, ensure your text is legible, the font is not too light or too thick when printed, and that no blank pages or irritating popups end up printed. CSS makes it possible to have the whole web page printed without any hassle. Finally, good content sells any day. Quality content will engage your reader enough for them to print.

12) Harmony in Resolution

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 12Another aspect of an SEO-friendly website is flexibility when it comes to scaling down. With devices invented and manufactured every year, your website should harmonize well with a wide spectrum of screen sizes and resolutions. This is not just limited to cell phones but also to tablets as well as PCs. Desktop screens now boast numerous screen sizes from 19 inches to above 24 inches. The more your site can work with all variations, the better for you and the users as well.

13) CSS3 and HTML5

2016 SEO Checklist - Point 13These two help to create very sleek, fast and clean websites. HTML5 has no difficulty scaling down for new media and comes with more advanced functions as an improvement of the old HTML. CSS3, on the other hand, speeds up loading time and gives the site an interactive feel. Validation is part of good practice in code development, even though a website can function normally without it. If the web designer does clean code, the HTML should validate properly. This applies to CSS as well.

This article is written by Derek Iwasiuk. He runs a national digital search engine optimization firm Engage the Crowd headquartered in Minneapolis. He also spends a lot of his free time educating the minds of thousands of top agencies and young SEO San Francisco experts. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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Article Published by Souvik Banerjee

Web Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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