A flash and visually-appealing website is great for a business and its branding, and is more important for some businesses than others, but SEO can be neglected, and ultimately at the cost of turnover and what keeps the business going.

This can mean that you have invested in a fantastic-looking website, but that hardly anyone sees it, and certainly not the people you NEED to see it, because there is no in-built mechanism to drive traffic/people to it. The flipside of course is that you build a website that is heavily loaded with SEO techniques, but once people get there the website is dull and unattractive and doesn’t hold the attention for long. Somewhere there is a compromise in building a website using both approaches, but we need to understand the power of SEO first.

Why is SEO important?

Whatever you are looking for on the internet – a holiday, a match report for the football, or a new lawnmower – how you find this information is determined by search engine results. Considerable amounts of users rely on Google search results, for example, without really thinking about how results – or businesses – are identified, sifted, filtered, and ranked. As a business owner, however, you do need to think about this, because you need to rank as high as possible for relevant keywords related to your business products/services.

Think of it as a shop on the high-street, if your not in a good location people may not see you and pop in to buy something!

Good SEO techniques?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and is a way in which expert web designers/marketing people get to know how search engines work, so they can use various techniques to generate more traffic towards a website, thus helping it to rank higher in the results for relevant keywords. The best way is to create ‘organic’ traffic, ie. ways in which people are driven to your site naturally through a search query within Google or Bing (not clicking the ads but the natural results).

There are many different SEO techniques, and these change and develop rapidly, but typically common ways to generate organic traffic currently are:

  • Building quality and relevant links to your website.
  • Creating and optimising informative and interesting content around relevant keywords to your business (recommended to conduct keyword research here).
  • Creating a good user experience (this includes optimising for page speed on mobile and desktop where possible).
  • Mobile compatibility – many websites now see over 50% of users arrive in on a mobile device. Designing a good responsive site is vital here.
  • Optimising voice search (so smart speakers can find your site too)
  • Optimising technical factors such as HTTPS, AMP, Core Web Vitals and fixing broken links and error messages
  • Optimising where applicable for local searches or niche market/sector searches.
  • Measuring your SEO performance regularly and improving/developing your techniques. Google analytics and search console are great here!

Why is usability important?

Usability is defined as an SEO technique, because it is a known ranking factor. You should be looking to do work with web designers and typically prioritise:

  • How easy content is to read and understand
  • Delivering what users expect to see on the page content wise.
  • How easy it is to navigate and find information/search functionality/checkouts.
  • Using subtitles, short paragraphs, bullet points
  • Using images and videos where possible for diverse content.
  • Using alt tags and other formats to help visually impaired people who enter the website.

Good design appeals to people when they find your site, but SEO helps people find it in the first place and helps make sure they stay there after the first initial scroll. So overall, web design is not just about a website looking good, it also uses techniques to engage people and to make the experience a good one, in addition to being good for social media and making your brand known.

So is SEO more important than design?

A good website needs substance and SEO enables you to create that, which in turn hopefully leads to the end goal of sales. So in conclusion, the developer of a website needs to collaborate with both design and SEO to reach a compromise on what drives the site. The ultimate goal is to prioritise what makes money for the business, and whilst there is always a compromise there, SEO is what brings people to a website, keeps them there and turns website clicks into sales.