As a web designer, SEO is not always at the forefront of my mind. The bulk of my job consists of creating/writing/designing engaging content that gives visitors the information they need in an aesthetically-pleasing way. However, getting more traffic from Google can make or break a company in today’s technological culture, so even as a designer, it’s important to know some quick tips for improving SEO and to put them into practice.

Utilize Reddit and other message boards when writing content.

Reddit LogoMany of your site’s visitors are going to eventually land on your site after finding it in results from a Google search. People Google things. According to Internet Live Stats, there are over 3.5 billion Google searches every day, or around 50,000 searches per second. That’s a heck of a lot of searches happening, and you can bet your bottom dollar that some of those searches will point to your website.

Choosing meta keywords used to be one of the primary ways to drive more traffic to your site. As search engines have evolved, meta keywords have become less important, but finding unique and powerful words to include in your content is still a great first step toward crafting the perfect meta title and description, which are both still very important for SEO rankings. So how can you find specific, targeted words that you want to include? Message boards.

The internet is full of information and full of people talking about that information. Message boards like Reddit are extremely popular, and this is where you’ll find the language that everyday people are using. For example, if you are writing about fitness, check out some fitness and diet subreddits and see what people are currently talking about! Look for patterns and common phrases, and repeat them often throughout your content. Odds are that if people are using those phrases on message boards, they’re probably searching for those words on Google as well.

Increase your site speed by optimizing images for the web.

UMHB Student in Hardy Hall
Even with the Save for Web quality set at 30%, images still look great!

Speed is everything. If you’ve got a slow website, not only will it frustrate users and increase your bounce rate, it will also get kicked to the curb in search rankings. One of the easiest ways (especially for those who work more in design than development) to make your site faster is to optimize your images. The first step for optimized images is to resize them. If your image is never wider than 600 pixels on your site, don’t upload an image that is 2000 pixels wide. Resize it to 600 pixels.

While you’re at it, go ahead and use Photoshop’s Save for Web (Legacy) feature. Bring the quality down to at most 60%; you won’t even be able to tell a difference. Be sure you save images as in the jpg format unless you need to utilize transparency, as jpg files are typically smaller. Use descriptive language in your image file names for a bonus SEO boost!

Fix broken links.

Nothing is more frustrating than navigating through a website, clicking on a link, and being taken to a 404 page. If your site is plagued with broken links, search engines often take it as a sign that you’ve given up on your website, which can negatively affect your SEO ranking. If you have a lot of links on your site, try using a link checker like W3C Link Checker to cut down on the time spent hunting for broken links.

Throw a number in your title.

When people search Google, they are given an ocean of words on the screen, and they must sort through and decide which ones are worthy of a click. Having numbers in your title offers a way to stand out from the crowd. Attention is easily drawn to differences, and numerical data looks different enough to draw the eye. I’ve found that including numerical statistics in titles often pique a reader’s interest in the topic and get them wondering how true it can be.

Sometimes people see a statistic and can’t believe it’s true. Other times, they read something and feel like a gross underestimation has been made. In either case, it’s much more likely you’ll get a click if you get your reader thinking about and interested in the topic. Numbers and statistics naturally instill a desire to know more, to understand better. While including them in the title of your page won’t directly affect SEO rankings, it’s an easy way to get attention and drive more traffic to your site. And if your page is worthy of a read, your bounce rate may decrease.

Play on pathos in your titles and descriptions.

Rather than write a simple meta description for your page or your post, put a little extra thought into it. Think about people’s emotions and how you can market toward specific feelings.

One of my favorite blogs/podcasts is Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand. Donald and his guests talk about all sorts of topics, but every conversation comes around to understanding marketing as a narrative with a need for conflict and resolution.

Think of your page titles and descriptions in a similar way: what problem does my reader have, and how can I help them solve it? Even if it’s subtle, triggering the emotional side of your visitors can help you increase traffic!

Don’t believe everything
you read on the internet.

Smart People

Don’t make empty claims.

While the internet is indeed a vast resource for knowledge, you can’t always trust what you read. So how do you gain a reader’s trust? Use external links to point to current research, case studies, and additional information from trustworthy sources. The more you utilize outbound links and point to further reliable information, the more your site establishes itself as an information station, which can improve SEO rankings.

Write engaging, relevant content.

This is probably the most important thing you can do to improve SEO. Your content needs to be top-notch. Make sure it’s visually appealing. This includes choices such as font selection, use of media on the page, and how text is broken up. A bunch of words all smashed together will get skimmed over, so break up your text into chunks separated by subheadings. Even if a viewer doesn’t read everything on a page, if they can quickly scan to find what they’re looking for, they’ll likely be encouraged to revisit and learn more as time permits, or even click on internal links and find more information on another page of your site.

Beyond the beautification process, your content should be unique and original. People don’t want to read repeated information they’ve seen on other sites, so try to find different ways to explain things. Think of what would make YOU stand out personally and apply that to your writing. Nothing is new under the sun, so you will undoubtedly write about things others have already written about (like me, writing a post about SEO…), but be sure that you’re always presenting this information in a way that is uniquely yours.

In my opinion/experience, one of the best things you can do to keep a reader engaged is to keep a light-hearted tone, and maybe even throw in some humor here and there. There are certainly times and places that call for a more professional or academic style, but most people aren’t wanting to open a new browser tab and search for the meaning of some word that you probably made up. Keep it simple and keep it fun, and your readers will make it through your entire post!

These tips only cover the tip of the SEO iceberg. As search engines become more advanced, best SEO practices will change with time, but keeping up-to-date with current practices will always be important for your website. A great design will only take you so far, so take some time to focus on some behind-the-scenes work. Show Google that you care!

Are you interested in marketing? The McLane College of Business offers a B.B.A. in Marketing that prepares graduates to succeed in a global and competitive business world. To learn more information, we invite you to visit our website.