Your keyword research is on point. Your meta descriptions are immaculate. Duplicate content is non-existent. So why are you not seeing the full results of a solid SEO strategy?
Why has your organic traffic stalled? Perhaps your website has a dirty little secret that no one is talking about…it’s really unattractive. “Looks aren’t everything!” you say. But when it comes to your internet marketing efforts, design and SEO are more intertwined than you know.
Think about a website you visited recently that totally frustrated you. Was it difficult to find your way around the site? Did it take too many clicks to accomplish anything? Were you forced to read through never-ending chunks of copy? Were ads popping up right and left? Whatever it was, something caused you to leave the site, and leave the site quickly! Don’t let your website meet the same fate. Bounce rate, time on site and pages per session are key performance indicators that Google uses to determine search results rankings. They are also the indicators that suffer the most when users find your web design unappealing and leave your site almost as soon as they arrive.
It’s time to take a good hard look at your website and honestly assess if your website design is negatively affecting the efforts of your SEO strategy.
Skipping Out on Responsive Design
Look, I don’t have to tell you that mobile, on-the-go searches are on the rise. It’s a basic fact at this point. But maybe the key take-away that you’re missing is that a responsive website, developed to seamlessly adjust to all mobile devices, no matter the brand, the generation or the screen size, is a huge factor in how Google returns search results.
Google’s Mobilgeddon algorithm change, which rolled out in April 2015, began giving an advantage to mobile and responsive websites in their search results. Our SEO Specialist touched on this mobile-friendly algorithm change previously and outlined the design changes that you need to make to combat Mobilegeddon, including:
- Mobile-friendly font sizes
- Mobile-friendly link spacing
Strip away all the fancy elements of a website and you’re left with site structure. It’s the cornerstone of SEO-friendly design. When it comes to SEO, we know that the user experience is key, and search engine optimization will then naturally fall in line.
For an optimal user experience, you need to develop site navigation that is logical and easily funnels users through your website. For example, always have your main navigation toggles in your header (Google and users read the same way, top to bottom!). Links and keywords should be utilized more closely to the top of the page so users are able to click to another page before becoming disinterested. At the same time, search engines can more quickly understand the hierarchy of the page and the flow of the site from one page to another.
Color is fun! Color can create a visual tagline for your brand. Color can energize an otherwise boring website. But too much color can really overwhelm visitors and cause them to bounce off your site. Our designers recommend using three to five colors on your website; three is probably the safest. (By the way, while we’re talking, same goes with font styles… three at the most.) Go back to the basics with the color wheel that we all learned about in elementary school and make sure you’re choosing a complimentary color scheme. Another important choice in creating a user-friendly and SEO-friendly design is avoiding colored body text. Not only will users get a headache reading pages full of red or green copy, but it also detracts from linking efforts aimed at getting users to visit additional pages and spend more time interacting with your site. Color should be used to drive action and be reserved for buttons or text links. Two rules of thumb offered by Search Engine Land contributor Shari Turow to consider when choosing color:
- All clickable items on a web page should look clickable
- All unclickable items on a web page should not look clickable
Poor Styling…Even Worse, No Styling
Is there anything more unpleasing to the eye than scrolling down a web page that is filled with a solid block of copy? It’s my biggest website pet peeve and it’s the #1 reason I will quickly leave a site. Formatting your web copy is a very simple way that design and SEO can come together to create a better user experience on your site. Proper formatting allows visitors to skim your content or read it in-depth, whatever their preference. If you’re guilty of including long blocks of copy on your website, consider implementing the following best practices to style your content:
- Break up the flow of your copy with subheadings, which should be formatted with H2 and H3 tags
- Include bulleted or numbered lists where appropriate
- Create an internal linking structure and make sure your links stand out
Pop Ups! Pop Ups! Pop Ups!
Want to sign up for a newsletter? Want to download an e-book? Can you take a survey? Need assistance? Want to chat? The advent of behavioral marketing has definitely been helpful in allowing marketers to deliver customized content to web users. Based on the page a user visits, you can provide suggestions for articles or downloads that may interest them or suggest they join a mailing list for more information. But moderation is key.
Nothing can be more off-putting to a user absorbing or engaging with the content on your site than having to repeatedly X-out of a pop-up screen. More than likely, they’ll get frustrated enough that they’ll leave your site.
Poor Image Choices
Clip art and generic, bland stock photography. Stop it! That’s all.