People form an impression about a website during the first 1/20th of a second that they see it, based on a purely visceral reaction to its visual design elements. As SEO is all about driving traffic to a site so that it can then make conversions, this suggests the importance of graphic design for SEO. Graphic design and SEO work tougher because investing in online marketing only makes sense if the website can convert visitors to customers. A professional looking site that is clear and visually appealing can do this, while anything else weakens SEO’s effectiveness.
The visual aspects of web design for SEO are about converting that traffic. Whether that means attracting customers to visit a brick and mortar storefront, encouraging them to spend some money online, or getting them to call for a consultation to set up an appointment, the landing page does most of the heavy lifting at this point. And for the most part, simplicity and clarity should define effective graphic design. Of course aspects of contemporary design aesthetic should appear in simple things like color palette, font selection, layout, and shading. But things like fancy embedded Flash elements to play music or present animated navigation options often take away from the site’s core purpose, which is converting visitors into customers. And an extra benefit of removing Flash and other advanced media-heavy elements is that simple, anchored text links impact SEO ranking because crawlers can read them.
Graphic design and SEO also coordinate in a more explicit way. Beyond being appealing enough to capture and maintain visitors’ immediate attention, landing page text and information should reinforce the core message from the SEO content. That means repeating tested keyword phrases, supporting that message visually using images and eye-pathing, and generally achieving clear and simple communication. Any expert website graphic designer should be able to reduce the core concepts to one simple goal; visual design shouldn’t be immediately noticed or draw attention to itself, but rather should support the main message of the website.
This is easier said than done, but companies investing in SEO should keep the importance of graphic design and SEO in mind when they plan an SEO campaign. The best SEM firms will be able to help improve some basic graphic design elements during the initial website overhaul, which is often essential just to optimize the core site architecture. But even if they can’t, they should be able to recommend some effective graphic designers or at the very least coordinate with them for the sake of the project and the SEO campaign. Neglecting this aspect of maximizing SEO just undermines the SEM company’s efforts.
Ryan Farrell is a Los Angeles based search engine optimization specialist and part time web site developer. Graphic Design and SEO Can Work Together or Compete. Obviously the Former Makes More Financial Sense.