Design systems and SEO: does it help or hinder SERP achievements?
Joe Dawson’s comprehensive guide and checklist to ensure your design systems enable great UX and gain more Google SERP visibility
- All the copy and strategic use of keywords in the world will not impress search engines if your web design is not fit for purpose
- The design of your website or web app is linked intrinsically to user experience, which in turn impacts your Google quality score and SEO performance
- Website design must drive users from A to B without any unnecessary steps in between – while retaining relevant copy that ties in with your SEO strategy
- Review your website design when considering your SEO strategy KPIs – a drop in traffic may be due to a substandard or outdated layout
- Do not neglect copy, as UX meta copy will improve your CTR on paid advertising. In turn, though, ensure that your website’s design system is strong enough to obtain a suitable quality score and keep your Google Ads spending within budget
In many respects, a website is the home of your business on the web. To this end, it’s perhaps fitting that creating a website is not unlike building a house. To achieve your intentions, you’ll need to establish solid foundations before commencing construction. When it comes to building a website from scratch, that means engineering your design systems and templates to maximize SEO potential.
Many businesses emphasize content and keywords in their SEO strategy, with design becoming an afterthought. To return to our housebuilding analogy, that’s like laying a solid roof upon unstable walls. There is no denying that superior copy is critical to enjoying a successful approach to SEO. Even the most gifted writer cannot overcome substandard web design and user experience, though.
What is a design system?
No website, no matter how well designed, will remain the same forever. Therefore, websites and web apps need to be regularly audited, refreshed, and even wholly redesigned. Such steps are the only way to retain your target audience’s interest and ensure that you remain one step ahead of Google’s ever-evolving SEO algorithms.
At the very least, a website redesign is necessary every three years. If you diagnose a plummet in traffic, it may become essential sooner than this. Take a deep breath, review your data, and ascertain what is to blame for your drop-in visitors. If you suspect that your web design is the issue, a wait-and-see approach will not yield results. Your traffic will continue to drop, and the longer you wait to resolve the problem, the more mountains you will need to overcome.
Now, as anybody that has ever built a website from scratch will know, the task requires two things in abundance – time and money. Both are precious commodities for a business, especially an SME.
Alas, all websites periodically need a little tinkering under the bonnet. If you have established a design system, this will be significantly less disruptive. Effective website design systems ensure that your tech team or design agency has a firm and reliable blueprint to work from, and everything is in its place. Essentially, any work on your website is editorial rather than creative. As a result, you’ll enjoy positive implications on labor intensiveness and expense alike.
Above all, design systems create a positive user experience. If you expect to have any measure of success with your SEO strategy, superior UX is non-negotiable. 21st Century consumers have more choice than ever before, and patience is in short supply. If your website design system does not meet users’ needs quickly and efficiently, visitors will stay away – and Google will sit and take notice.
Do design systems influence SEO performance?
SEO and design systems initially appear to be opposites. Web designers focus on making a site look fabulous and providing accessible, fluid navigation. Copywriters ensure that the content meets a users’ needs, convincing them to follow the steps laid out in web design. In reality, these two disciplines are entwined when it comes to maximizing SEO.
First thing’s first – if you redesign a website without factoring your SEO into the equation, disaster awaits. Forget to apply 301 redirects, and Google may wipe your entire SEO strategy overnight. If all else fails, at least take advantage of UX microcopy to create engaging, interactive 404 pages. Ensuring that a redesigned website can still find high-performing pages is the only way to maintain SEO and SERP progress, though.
In addition, consider the impact of design on your SEO. Consider how mobile-friendly your design system us, and what coding you use. Anything more complex than industry-standard CSS or HTML may capture the imagination of a first-time user but can be considered a novelty. It may be challenging for readers to understand how to navigate such a site, and you’ll struggle to optimize your content. These issues will have a knock-on effect on your page ranking.
What makes the ideal web design for SEO and SERPs?
As discussed, any business or individual must update their website from time to time. Even if your site is still pulling in traffic, there is no harm in making tweaks. It’s much easier to keep traffic flowing than to regain loyalty and interest from lapsed consumers.