Minimalism is definitely all the rage— and not just the kind that involves cleaning out your closet. Minimalist web design is becoming increasingly popular; even sites that aren’t exactly minimalist still strive for simplicity in order to increase the ease of user experience and navigation.
While “less is more” may be a decent motto for website design, it does have one major drawback. Getting too sparse in your site’s content can harm your SEO, leaving you with a beautiful, user-friendly site that no one can actually find.
Finding the balance between attractive, functional design and SEO can be tricky, but it’s definitely possible.
If possible, always collaborate
Unless you’re a one-man-show, you might have different teams responsible for your web design and for your SEO and content creation. When the two are completely isolated, there can be some major miscommunications about the way the website should go. Typically, designers want to cut any unnecessary fluff, while the SEO team might want to give search engine crawlers as many keywords to discover as possible.
Maintaining some level of collaboration between the two will usually prevent any one side from going overboard. If you outsource the building or maintenance of your website, it’s best to look for companies that offer all-in-one services. Their teams will be used to working together and will already be aware of the needs of the others. On the other hand, having separate designers and SEO/marketing consultants can leave you with a slew of conflicting advice.
Use cross-links to your advantage
Remember that you don’t have to include everything on one page. If you find that your “Services” page is getting too wordy and too busy, you can always link to subcategory pages where you go into more detail. This way, you’ll be able to include valuable content that helps boost your SEO while still preventing clutter on your webpages. (Of course, this method can be taken too far. An overabundance of options on a navigation menu becomes its own kind of clutter and can harm user experience.)
Another way to increase the content on your site while keeping your most important web pages sleek and simple? Start a company blog. Blogging is not only a great content marketing strategy, it gives your site the potential to rank for endless search terms. And unlike subcategories in your navigation menu, there’s really no such thing as too many blog posts (as long as they’re all high-quality).
Track your metrics
There’s no rules for exactly how to balance design and SEO. Needs will vary by industry and individual. The only objective way to figure out what works for you is to keep track of traffic stats for your own website, especially before and after you make changes.
If you find that certain pages don’t rank at all in their categories, you might consider adding a little more content with a few strategic keywords. If some of your pages have an extremely high bounce rate, you should ask yourself if that page is too busy, cluttered, or wordy for optimal user experience. If see improvements after making these changes, then you’re one step closer to achieving your perfect design/SEO balance!
This kind of trial and error process can be time-consuming and tricky to learn, so if time is of the essence and you have the budget for it, working with SEO and design experts can save you some serious headaches.
A site that is extremely sparse and minimalist might look lovely, but visitors will be frustrated if they can’t actually find the information they’re looking for. Ask yourself what you would most want to know when visiting your site, and be sure that you’ve made that information available and easy to find. Just by doing this, you’ll already have many of your important keywords covered.
On the other side of the coin, don’t get so focused on including every possible keyword that you sacrifice user experience. Cluttered and wordy sites are hard to navigate, especially on mobile devices, and they won’t earn you any fans.
There’s a popular adage for writing web content: “Write for humans, not search engines.” The same could easily be said for design and SEO strategy. When the technicalities of balancing SEO and web design get overwhelming, simplify things by coming back to this question: what do actual human being want from my website? When even that question is too hard to answer, we’re always just a call away to help you out.