Finding the Balance: Site design, Browser Compatibility and SEO

When designing an SEO strategy for a company, a thorough analysis of their website is essential. As well as making best use of its sitemap and content, it is also vital to take into account any limitations, problems and browser compatibility issues the site may experience. Without developing a full understanding each aspect, how they can compliment and contradict each other, any SEO work will be at best, only partially effective.

A good SEO strategy for a site is a delicate balancing act, ensuring that a mobile friendly, HTML5 built site with javascript elements that Google ranks highly isn’t too alienating for searchers using older browsers. The tools listed above are crucial when designing a sleek, modern site designed to impress both aesthetically and from an SEO perspective, but users experiencing the site through a browser like Internet Explorer 8 might end up viewing a mess of half displayed code in a bizarre layout. Not exactly the ideal impression to make.

This is a near universal problem, simply because of the sheer number of browser and device options readily available to the modern market. HTML5 has the ability to resize the page to work and retain key features on a screen of any size or shape, something that Google will check for during a crawl and contributes to the overall site ranking. Unfortunately, on older browsers, exceptions will have to be written in the code for certain features to display correctly, and certain Javascript elements might need to be excluded entirely for older browsers. If your business’s homepage has an image heavy theme, or informational videos displayed, this could mean potential customers on older browsers aren’t going to see the majority of your content, resulting in a much poorer experience.

So let’s imagine you work the other way and design a site that is fully compatible with older browsers, sticking to a very simple text and image layout, using an older version of HTML. Even though your site will be providing a better experience to those using older browsers, mobile and tablet users will now suffer, a fault which Google is becoming ever quicker to penalise.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer when trying to find a site that caters reasonably well to all browsers whilst maintaining good SEO. This fascinating blog written by some of the web developers at BBC news is proof that even the largest, most successful sites struggle in a market that offers a huge variety of browsers, each with their own set of customisable options and add-ons.

From both a development and an SEO perspective, I would echo the advice of the blog I’ve linked to above: Create a good core experience that provides a clean layout and displays essential information to visitors. Once you’ve make sure that even the simplest version of your site ranks well, you can start building more complex elements in to the site with opt out measures in the code, to ensure that browsers that cannot display certain elements will ignore them completely. Feature detection tests like this are excellent tools when designing a homepage or landing page, as they will help give you an indication of the capabilities of a large number of browsers and filter out those that cannot display elements of your site. However, before making too many concessions to older browsers, it’s important to keep in mind that these formats are becoming obsolete, whilst the number of people using tablets and mobiles to visit sites is increasing each year. Whilst having a good, consistent core user experience is a valuable asset for a site, sacrificing key aspects like mobile compatibility will negatively impact your SEO performance in a rapidly growing section of the market.

Conclusion? Maintain an awareness of those using older browsers to access your site, but on no account sacrifice vital new elements of the site or SEO rankings because of them.

By | 2016-12-19T15:34:32+00:00 October 6th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Finding the Balance: Site design, Browser Compatibility and SEO

About the Author:

Account manager, digital strategy specialist and content creator Goldladder.