Intro to SEO

As a designer entering the world of marketing, I have been introduced to a lot of terms and techniques that leave my head spinning with an overflow of information. Because designers often wear many different hats throughout their career (collaborating with developers, project managers, etc.), it can be really easy to only have a basic, need-to-know understanding of a subject, but not why it really matters.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is probably one of those topics that you’ve heard people talk about all the time. Clients ask about it. Your boss worries about it. With over 93% of online experiences beginning with a search engine, it’s vital to understand why everyone is making such a big deal about it.

Let’s get started.

Intro to SEO

According to Tuts+, SEO is a series of techniques which improve the visibility of a website in search engine result pages. SEO has upped the game of internet marketing, and created a battle of websites among companies to rank as high as possible for a particular search query. If you’re doing SEO right, your website will achieve greater success.

These techniques are divided into two categories: White-hat SEO and Black-hat SEO. White-hat SEO tactics focus on a human audience, are considered safe and produce long-term results. In comparison, Black-hat SEO refers to aggressive and unethical SEO tactics that only focus on search engines, which can lead to penalties or even being removed from the index altogether.

The Importance of SEO

SEO Design

SEO is all about getting your website to rank at the top of the search engine, so that your company’s site is the first thing a user sees and clicks on. If your company is selling product online, your ranking could be a life or death situation. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (direct mail or print advertising) only have a 1.7% close rate. This means that if your following SEO best tactics, your organic traffic and income potential could increase considerably.

SEO Ranking Factors

Before you get too excited and jump in, it’s important to have a game plan. To do this, you need to understand how search engines determine ranking. Here are a few of the most important things to consider:

User Experience

Search engines such as Google want their users to have the best online experience as possible, so it’s not surprising that the usability of your website can affect your ranking in search results. Page loading speed, site security, mobile optimization and having a simple navigation are key factors in whether or not your site is up to standard. For more information on how user experience can affect your search rankings, check out Forbes’ 6 User Experience Factors That Affect Your Search Rankings.


The key to keywords (couldn’t resist) is to include your search query in your domain, url, title, header tags and content. This will help your site appear more relevant to Google. If you’re not doing this right, all of your keywords are basically irrelevant and are doing nothing for you. But remember, less is more.

Site Age

Although Google sees older websites as being more authoritative than new ones, this doesn’t apply to content. Constantly updating your website with fresh content and designs lets search engines know that you’re still in business.

SEO Web Design

Sometimes, designing for SEO can seem like a constant headache between design, content, programming, marketing and optimization techniques. However, understanding how and why SEO works will not only help you succeed as a designer, but also help your company. Now that you have an understanding of what SEO is, you can learn more great tips by downloading our free guide, 15 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2015.

Thanks for reading! Check back next Thursday for more design and user experience tips.

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Posted by Ariel Valley

Web designer, writer, social media lover and inbound marketer at Catch22 Marketing. Also known as a professional coffee taster, shoe enthusiast and film buff. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @ariel_valley.

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