4 Tips To Consider For SEO Friendly Web Design

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

People in the SEO and web design industry are talking a lot about how SEO is changing, but is it? A recent video by Matt Cutts (Head of the Google web spam team) really caught our attention. There is a lot of rumour circulating that link building is dead and whilst this may be true to a certain extent, (there is more of a focus on quality than quantity now) what we do know for certain is that Google and other search engines are trying to do one thing… focus on the user experience.

What Does Google Consider Important In Web Design?

If you listened to Matt Cutts in the above video, you will hear how he talks about focusing on the User Experience and User Interface over your efforts on building 1000’s of links.

It doesn’t matter how many links your website has pointing at it, if you don’t offer relevant and captivating content, Google won’t like it and nor will your visitors. Let’s consider the 4 important factors that affect the user experience:

  • Page speed
  • Calls to action
  • Accurate navigation
  • Building brand trust

1. Page Speed

This is an easy one. Consider a time when you have been searching the web, found a link, clicked it and the corresponding website has taken ages to load or has rendered poorly. What did you do? You likely clicked back and went and found the next result. This is called a bounce.

High bounce rates have negative effects on your websites ranking as Google determines that your visitor couldn’t find what they were looking for when using that term and therefore your site can’t be very relevant.

Another point to make is if Google bot also has a problem accessing your website due to download time then it will skip your page and you will find it won’t get indexed and therefore ranked. Test your website speed by using Google’s speed test. Look at the recommendations and then hire a developer to consider ways of speeding it up. Factors that can slow down your website include:

  • Large image files
  • Video content
  • JavaScript heavy web pages
  • Not using browser caching
  • Large web page file sizes

2. Calls To Action

It is important that if you want your visitors to convert into an enquiry or a sale, that you need to make it clear. You can do this by having a clean, crisp design with a vivid and compelling call to action. Your call to action or conversion form should be simple, the text readable and the purpose clear. Having a clear call to action helps your usability but will also help you gain enquiries or conversions which should be the ultimate aim of your website.

3. Accurate Navigation

You need to focus your navigation. Having a well-structured website will help your visitors get to the pages that are important fast. When you think about your website structure, try and aim to categorise your pages together under 1 main navigation header. You want your key landing pages and conversion pages to be accessible as quickly as possible.

A key rule always used to be that a page should be accessible within 3 clicks. If it isn’t, it might never get reached. Key navigational items that should be found on a site include:

  • Sitemap
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Search bar

A sitemap is a page that lists all your website pages, posts, categories, images and whatever taxonomies that you may have on the site. It allows users and search engines to find content.

Breadcrumbs allow you to see where you are in relation to the homepage and allow you to quickly navigate back along your trail. Google recommends breadcrumbs highly on your site. They look like this:

Example of breadcrumbs

 A search bar is great for e-commerce sites or pages with lots of blog posts. It allows you to type a query, just like in Google, and return closely matched results.

4.     Building Brand Trust

Google wants to return results that it believes are trustworthy. So, how does a Search Engine deem whether your website is a trustworthy source? The following are useful:

  • Google Authorship
  • Social Influence
  • Reviews and Ratings

Google Authorship

A much talked about subject in the SEO Community. What Google is saying is that if your brand has a name or face to it, they are much more likely to trust it than an unknown source. Google Authorship allows you to build something called Author Rank. A ranking figure based on how authoritative you are in your industry. The higher the rank, the more trustworthy Google deems you, and the more likely your results will rank higher. Make sense? Look at the following web result for an example of Google Authorship.

Google Authorship

Social Influence

The same can be said for Social Influence. We don’t just mean having 1,000’s of followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook. Social influence is measured based on retweet’s, Facebook shares and +1’s. These are a true indication of whether what you have to say is actually important.

Reviews and Ratings

Again, one of the true measures of trust is what your customers say about you. Google has its own rating system through Google + called “Zagat”.  Taking a restaurant as an example, you can rate the food, the décor and the service on a scale of poor or fair, good, very good and excellent and then write a review. This rating will then be displayed on your Local results and Google + page. Thinking of rankings specifically, a website with a high rating is more likely to appear higher than a low rating site. Why? Because it is about trust and what Google thinks is the best search result for their user.

In Conclusion

There are a myriad of other factors to consider such as professional design, use of photography, voice of your text and video. Get in touch with Avatar if you’d like to talk about how to make your website more SEO friendly.

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Mark started working in the Internet industry in 1994. He went on to startup New Zealand Tourism Online, Avatar and other companies. Mark enjoys meeting with clients and strategising online marketing solutions.

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