As most Web pros know, Google has updated its algorithms several times to allow for more "user-friendly" content, while rewarding websites that provide a great user experience.
The changes make Web design play an even more critical role in how a site ranks, so enterprises will want to make sure they are avoiding these common mistakes.
Note from the Author: Some of you may be thinking "this is common sense stuff" I am here to tell you that there are a lot of people making these simple mistakes and costing small business a lot of revenue!
1. Neglecting mobile devices
Mobile searched surpassed desktop search in 2015. As such, Google will actually penalize you for not having a mobile version of your website. That means you're missing out on the search engine traffic that you could get from the people who complete a quick Google search while on the move. This affects everything from restaurant recommendations to where to find the best price on new bar stools, so make sure you have your website optimized for mobile.
2. Not Grouping Keywords
Keyword stuffing should have gone out in the 1990s and for the most part it has but there is another keyword issue that is still prevalent today. In order to rank in years past you would often need a separate page for each variation of your keywords. After 2014 updates, Google now looks at the overall topic of a page meaning you can rank a single page for several keywords. Your designer should no longer be adding hundreds of pages to target variations of a single keyword, instead they should create a plan for grouping similar keywords.
3. Using "stock" content
There are several companies that specialize in Web design for a particular industry. Many of these companies have expedited the design process by creating generic text for common services and using it on every new website, most of the time only changing the name of the company. As you likely know, duplicate content is harmful to your website. If a company offers to include content with your website, be sure to find out if it is unique.
4. Not doing comprehensive keyword research
I hear a lot of people say, "as soon as my website is done I am going to need some SEO." The truth is, content should drive design and keywords tell you what type of content is needed. If your website designer does not have a solid understanding of keywords research, bring an SEO consultant in while developing the site wireframe and you could save a lot of time and frustration.
5. Neglecting Visitor Flow
Marketing experts are currently split about whether or not Google can measure things like bounce rate and time on site to determine the quality of a website. Most people agree that dwell time is measured however. Regardless of how you think they measure interaction with your site, we can all agree that you should guide your visitor through your site to keep them engaged. Developing a proper internal linking structure is essential to guide visitors. This structure should coincide with your marketing goals and be based up the architecture of your site. Think of it as a funnel taking the visitor from broad to most specific.
6. Outdated Coding & Design Practices
There are many ways to accomplish a similar Web design task. For example, years ago it was common practice to write an entire site in HTML and use inline code to style pages. Fast forward a few years and we now have separate CSS files that hold design information. Common programming languages are updated regularly for speed, function and security purposes. You need to make sure your design has stayed up to date with design practices to ensure you have a fast and secure site, both of which Google appreciates.
7. Ignoring Meta Data
Even if your Web designer is not an SEO expert, basic steps such as giving each page a unique and descriptive title and meta description can go a long way. Just make sure the page titles coincide with the keyword grouping goals of your website.
8. Not Adding Structured Data
Schema Markup makes it easier for Google to understand and categorize information on your website. As Google continues to evolve and seeks to give users faster access to information, having proper markup will increase the likelihood of your site be featured directly in the SERPs.
9. Bloated Images
Most of you know that Google likes fast websites. Images that are not properly optimized can throw a wrench into your plans to have a fast website. Many images used in Web design are much higher resolution than is actually needed on the website, make sure your designer has an understanding of image optimization to avoid that common pitfall.
The Bottom Line on SEO Friendly Website Design
What it boils down to is that Google is continually advancing and changing their expectations of how a quality website should perform.
If you are not already, you better start paying attention to the whole point of having a website in the first place - to reach your target audience that may be looking for information to help them solve a problem their problems.