In a way, web design and SEO does seem related. After all, Google ranks websites according to how relevant they are for certain keywords. When the web design is great and users find the site useful and attractive, they stay longer on the site and they keep coming back. Google takes note of this and consequently ranks the website higher than others. And that’s the ultimate purpose of SEO—getting a website to rank as high as possible.
Yet web design and SEO are two totally different tasks. When you get a web designer who says that the web design they’ll do for you will have inherent SEO characteristics, you need to be a little wary. This is especially true when they say that their web design will surely get you on the first page (or even on the top spot) of the search results. Remember, SEO is not part of a web designer’s job.
Web design focuses on the look and function of a website. The purpose of proper web design is to make it easy for people to use a website, understand its contents, and appreciate its look. It’s all about functionality and aesthetics. The look of the website must be in line with its function.
That does not mean that every great looking functional website will automatically rank high in Google results. In fact, in many cases what’s great for web design (such as splash pages) can be bad for SEO.
Google may say that the proper SEO strategy is to create websites that people will want to use and visit, but they don’t really employ people to evaluate websites. Google and other search engines use “spiders” to crawl through websites in order to evaluate them. So you need to understand that you can’t have any elements on your website that will interfere with the spiders, even though these elements are preferred by website visitors.
Like human website visitors, spiders will prefer a website structure that is simple and easy to navigate. But spiders won’t care if your images are blurred or low quality, if the colors are nice, cute, or striking, or if your logo is memorable.
Spiders are concerned about your content and your keyword placements. But they do not give a crap about what font you use at all. You can use comic sans for your funeral services website for all they care.
It’s estimated that Google has about 200 factors / criteria to consider when they evaluate a website, and many of them have nothing to do with web design. Inbound links and the frequency of your updates, for example, are crucial SEO factors, but web designers will know nothing about that.
When you encounter a web designer who says that their web design is automatically optimized for search engines, it’s just like talking to an SEO specialist who says that with their SEO methods, your website design can look fantastic. You need both types of experts (web designer and SEO specialist) to get it right, and to do it effectively, you need to get them both on board right from the start.
SEO is not part of web design, nor is SEO an afterthought. Web design and SEO are equal partners, and you need both if you want a website that will continue to get lots and lots of traffic.