All businesses in the internet age realize that one of the best ways to improve their sales and drive more business to their website is to come up on the first page of a Google search. It is no longer okay (or advisable) to simply pay for a listing in the local yellow pages. If you want to bring in new customers—particularly those who are looking for products and services like yours—you need to rank. And you can only rank on Google if Google likes your website and thinks it is something that should be shared with others. In other words, you need SEO.
SEO is the art of optimizing a site for search engine crawlers. Basically, it’s about boosting your image and presenting yourself as a reputable and authoritative website that is active, engaging, and easy to navigate. Similarly, those are some of the very same aspects that users look for in a website. And if users like your website, chances are search engines will like it to, and that will give you an SEO boost.
However, businesses who first venture into the world web design don’t understand what good website design is or how is can affect your SEO, both for good and bad. Unfortunately, this even happens to large businesses. The best cure for this is to hire a fantastic web designer who knows what he or she is doing, along with a superb copywriter who can give you the copy you need to convert pageviews and click-throughs into profit—then get out of the way.
When your site is finally done, SEO optimized, and presented to you. Here are some guidelines you might want to use to double-check your work and make sure that all the time and money you spent developing your website won’t go to waste with a bad design that will hurt your SEO.
Color? What does color have to do with my site SEO? Plenty. Overall you need to create a pleasant design and color scheme that is both easy on the eyes and will build confidence in your site visitors that you are a professional and know what you are doing. Make sure your text and background contrast with one another so your content pops off the page. Highlight important areas of your home page so that your site visitors know where to direct their eyes easily.
A good color scheme and design will help you appear trustworthy to your site visitors. Not only will they be more willing to come back to your site, but they will be more likely to buy from you and recommend your site to others, increasing your SEO.
One of the worst mistakes you can make for the SEO of your site is to create poor navigation. This is important: make your navigation crystal clear. Don’t hide your navigation buttons down at the bottom or in light gray off to the side of the main page. Yes, your website needs to look cool and striking, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice usablility. When users can easily navigate your website, so can search engines, giving you a great SEO boost.
Now that we’ve discussed design and navigation, let’s talk about the content of your website. Content is what your site users come to see. It is why they are on your site in the first place. They want to find out more about you, your products, your company, and more. Give them the information they need in the manner that they need it.
Maker sure your visual design mimics the importance and relevance of your content to your users. And (this may go without saying) make sure you have all the right keywords on your home page that you users a looking for. But don’t be spammy about it. Text that reads naturally will build more confidence in users than will text that is so keyword-heavy that it becomes useless. Remember, to boost your SEO think like a user, not like a search engine. If users like your website, then search engines will too, giving you more SEO power.
It’s not that users are stupid. They know you want them to buy your products, use your services, or signup for whatever you want to send them. But many of them are less inclined to do so if they are not asked. Studies have shown that asking your facebook followers to “like” a post will generate more likes. The same goes for your website. If you want people to buy, include a button that says “buy.” At the end of your sales copy tell them to “click here today to purchase this item” (or something similar). The more click-throughs you can generate on your site, and the longer you can keep people on your website, the more conversions you will get and the more you will boost your SEO.
Although you may have read or heard that putting as much text as you can on your home page is a good thing, don’t believe it. Yes, text on your home page it a good thing. It allows search engines a chance to crawl the content of your home page and get an idea of how to match it to user searches. And text on your home page is weighed more heavily than text on your subsequent pages. However, if you overload your home page with text and links, you’ll look spammy, shifty, and generally up to no good. And that’s bad for users.
Also, if you clutter up your page with too much stuff, your users won’t know where to go first, they will get confused, frustrated, and click the back button faster than you can say “SEO fail.” So, put text on your front page, but be moderate. If you have a clean and easy interface, you’ll build confidence in users and you’ll build SEO at the same time.
In general, if you really want to create a site that is both SEO friendly and user optimized, you need to have a purpose in mind before you begin. What is the purpose of your site? Is it informational or sales oriented? Then sit down and question everything about the design. Ask yourself why every element on your home page and subsequent pages exists and what it is doing for the purpose of your site. That will help you clean everything up quickly. And when your site is focused on your main purpose, you’ll get better traffic and increase your SEO.
Brad Anderson is the Founder and CEO of Fruition. Brad’s focus is supporting Fruition’s team to enable sustainable growth and excellent client satisfaction (EBITDA growth). With a strong statistical background, Brad built Fruition’s in-house software that is used to manage client success.
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