A Digital Marketer's Take on an SEO Friendly Website Design
"So Chris, you'll make my site SEO-friendly and get it on the first page of Google. Right?"
"Yes, that's what we at MySEOSucks do."
"Great. Anything you need from my side?"
"Yes, you'd have to make some changes to your website design so that it can be more SEO-friendly."
"SEO-friendly website design? What the hell is that?"
This is just a summary of one of the hundreds of talks that I've had with many of our clients. They merely fail to recognize the connection between SEO and website design. But honestly, I can't blame them. Contrary to the common preconception that SEO is some mysterious stuff that has something to do with keywords, SEO is just like any other fundamental technique that's dependent on many different aspects-website design is one of them.
Before we get to the relation between Website Design and SEO, let's first understand how search engine algorithms perceive your website.
Let's Try to Understand Search Engines
Imagine having hard copies of ten different articles on your table. You have to arrange them in some order for a thousand people who're looking for an answer inside those articles to a particular question that you know. As the human psychology goes, first, people will read the first few articles to find the answers. Your job is to help them find the answers as soon as possible. How will you arrange them? You'd organize them in such a way that the first few articles prove to be the most useful to them. For that, you'd have to read all the articles prudently.
That's the job of the search engines, to present the best answers. In other words, search engines want the users to spend as little time on the search engines as possible. The evaluation and placing of your website on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) are done based on hundreds of factors of their algorithm. It's said that Google, the biggest search engine in the world, has as many as 200 ranking factors.
In a nutshell, search engines want to present us with the best possible answers.
Three Most Important Ranking Factors when it Comes to Website Design
From the website design point of view, three ranking factors play a very crucial role as far as Google is concerned. These factors are pogosticking, dwell time and loading speed. Let's understand each of them in brief.
How many times in a day you Google something, click on a search result, don't find what you're looking for and click the back button of the browser? This action of going back to the SERP is called "pogosticking." The more users pogostick on your page, the more your rankings suffer.
Dwell time is the time a user spends on your page. Usually, users spend more time on the pages that they find useful enough. Therefore, the more time a user spends, the better it is for your rankings.
The third most useful factor is the page loading speed. Why would Google rank a page first if it takes ages to load?
Elements of an SEO Friendly Website Design
- Readable Content
The first thing that most of the users do after landing on a web page is read its content. But he/she won't spend much time on your page if the text is not readable for one reason or the other. That's why having proper fonts of appropriate size is of paramount importance.
You should also make the best use of white spaces and choose the fonts and background colour that are easy to the eyes. If you have a bright background, pick a dark font colour and vice-versa.
- No Popup, please!
The second last thing that I want after landing on a website is to be slammed by a popup. I assume most of you all will relate to it. For your website's sake, don't put a popup straightaway. Granted, you want to generate leads through your website, but there are much better, gentle and subtle ways to do so. And if it's really important for you to put a popup, give the user some time to at least see what you have on your website.
- Responsive Website
It's no secret that people browse more through their mobile devices their desktop counterparts. People, UI & UX design matters! Google and all search engines have only one thing in their mind - users. If the majority of the users are browsing more through mobile devices, they're going to favour mobile-friendly websites. A responsive website could help you lower your bounce rate, boost your page speed and improve user interactions.
- SEO-optimized Images
The size of the images plays a crucial role in determining the page load speed. Therefore, you must optimize the sizes of your images by compressing them. Moreover, the Name and the Alternative Text of an image are also SEO factors. Both should be somewhere related to the main keyword you're targeting.
Another thing that you must take into consideration is that search engines can't read images, they can only read the text. If the text inside your image is the part of the image, Google won't be able to read it. Henceforth, you must keep the text and images separate.
Every user coming to your site comes with a purpose. He/she is looking for something, and it's your job to direct him/her find it as soon as possible. Best web design firms make the navigation of the site look intuitive, keeping the human psychology in the centre.
- No Sudden Sounds
No human being in their sane mind would want to listen to be attacked by the sound of an audio clip or video when landed on a site. It's the last thing I'd want on any website. In microseconds, I'd close that site, and thousands of others would do the same. This could do some severe damage to your SEO hopes, which you can't afford.
Our brains are hardwired in such a way that they're more responsive to visuals than to the content. As a result, website design comes on top when it comes to user experience. Ultimately, that is reflected in the SEO as well. That's why a website with proper SEO elements will always rank better. So, if you want to have a website that ranks well, you must also have a website that is well-designed.