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Minimalism in Web Design

How to Stay Modern Without Losing Your Rankings

January 14, 2021 | Posted in: Search | Web Design

No-frills designs have taken the web development industry by storm. Iconic brands like Apple as well as newcomers like Tesla have reduced clutter and narrowed their design language to the simplest form possible… but does that work for small companies with less brand power?

Flat and Modern is in. Brand logos, user interfaces, interior decorating, furniture, clothing, & just about everything else. The 2020s have emphasized: less is more

Over the last few years, we’ve had clients approach us with bold ideas for new websites like a barebones homepage with only one paragraph or having their entire site exist as a single page. Simple aesthetics along those lines can be eye-catching and help focus users on what’s most important… but implemented incorrectly, that light approach to content can harm your search visibility and cut into your bottom line.

Going Clean & Modern in a Google-Friendly Way

A fundamental principle of search engine optimization (SEO) is that you need to give Google a very clear understanding of what products and services you offer. Every beginner SEO is taught “content is king,” referring to Google’s seemingly endless appetite for more written content on webpages. Your website needs to specifically describe to Google what types of search terms you deserve to rank for. To their algorithm, a picture is not worth 1000 words! There is a very strong correlation between higher word-counts and better organic rankings.


SEO-Inspired Do’s and Don’ts of Modern Web Design

  • Do keep things organized by including subpages for each major product and service
  • Don’t be afraid to dedicate huge areas to simple and attractive imagery
  • Do summarize your overall business and offerings on the homepage in HTML text
  • Don’t forget to link between all pages, ideally in both the main navigation menu and within relevant context
  • Do consider rewriting and freshening up all written verbiage rather than just “importing” it
  • Don’t copy/paste “duplicate content” from manufacturers or any other source

When building a new website or updating an existing one, consideration of Google and organic rankings should always be included in the planning.

Numerical wordcount itself is not a ranking factor.

What Google looks for: Plenty of well-written & descriptive content.

Logos & Icons are a great place to modernize. Simple graphics and buttons are easier to read on small screens.

Another reason modern design trends have gone minimal is the increase in internet-enabled mobile and wireless devices. When users are accessing your content on a cellular connection, anything unnecessary should be eliminated. Keeping designs lean can help decrease load times.

Removing unnecessary images and/or converting to more efficient formats can drastically speed up your website.

Don’t use Fortune 500 companies as a reference. For small to medium size businesses, the rules are different.

It’s great to look at some of the largest companies in the world and strive for their level of success, but in terms of web design, they play in a very different arena. In the same way you wouldn’t lease a similar square footage to them, you should not be building the same type of website.

Brands like Nike have so many high-authority incoming links and are referenced so frequently that Google already knows what type of products they offer before even crawling their homepage. At that level of authority, they are able to do just about anything they want without losing their rankings.

Here are some examples of modern design, with SEO-driven content:

As you click through, notice how much written content the Range Marketing SEO team is still able to include in the pages. Reducing clutter and including plenty of whitespace keeps the sites feeling “clean” while rich content tells Google what those businesses offer.

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