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Does Web Design Impact Search Rankings?

Jason Roy

Look what SEOSiteCheckUp.com Wrote in 2013 – 

"SEO has a reputation of being “technical”. Something that is a number game. Get X amount of 

At SEOSiteCheckUp.com, though, we feel this perspective is limited. Because we know what Google’s end goals are. Google wants to provide value to its searchers, because the more value a searcher gains from the service, the more they’ll use Google. This helps Google get more revenue from advertisements, and exposure to other services.

Therefore, SEO in 2013 needs to be based around the USER. It’s all about making the experience better for the USER, which also makes the experience better for a Google bot scanning your page.

When we look at things this way, SEO changes from a theoretical standpoint to a more practical perspective. We no longer view SEO as a number’s game. It’s not, how many X can we get, it’s “how good can we make the user experience for our average visitor?”

Thinking from this angle not only makes your business MUCH better, but it will also give you the absolute best chance of ranking well on Google! Here’s a list of on-page tweaks Google’s looking for on your site, that we know of, right now:

  • Navigation – is it easy to use, or confusing?
  • Clicks-to-page – how many clicks does it take a visitor to get to your most important pages?
  • Site load speed – does your site load quickly, or does it take a long time?
  • Content – is content being published regularly, and how long is it?

Of course, we could go on for a while. But you get the point – everything Google’s looking for in a website is also what increases the user experience!

So, back to the age-old question: does design matter for SEO? ABSOLUTELY!

Design is a HUGE part of the user experience. If your design is poor, you could do everything right in SEO and still be on the back foot! Design is an integral part of SEO at this point of the game, so when you do SEO for your site, realize it all starts from square one – what your site looks like, and how users navigate it!

So what parts of design really matter? For the remainder of this article, we’ll talk about some key design points you should focus on, to give yourself the absolute best chance at ranking on page #1.

Decide the #1 Priority, Show That First

The biggest benefit to “New SEO” is that you’re not just getting better rankings on Google… you’re also building a business that delivers more value to its customers! As a result, your business will grow with your rankings.

A big part of design and SEO is figuring out what you really want your customers to do when they land on your website. Once you’ve figured that out, design the entire site around that goal. Put the most important content above the fold. Make sure the navigation accommodates your top priority.

This will also make it very easy for the Google bots to know what your site is about, and get around quickly and easily.

Site Load Time is a Big Deal

As far as usability goes, the biggest factor that most on-page optimizers forget is site load speed. And a LOT of this has to do with design. If you have a lot of images on your website, or the CSS isn’t minified, this will have a large effect on your site’s load speed.

Google’s actually come out and said that if you have a slow loading site, it won’t rank as well as a site that’s optimized. Additionally, the longer it takes for your site to load, the more chance there is that a user will click off the page, or “bounce”, which is another red flag to Google’s algorithm.

It’s Easiest to Start With SEO in Mind

Hopefully, you now realize that design and SEO aren’t two distinct ideas that aren’t related. No, at this point, design is just as important as any other element to SEO. If you want the best rankings, you need to design a site with SEO in mind from the very beginning. 

The user experience should be simple and effective, the customer should find EXACTLY what they’re looking for within seconds, and the site should load extremely quickly."

Jump forward to 2015, well almost 2016, and look at how well we predicted the future of SEO. Today, backlinks are not a huge factor in determining PageRank, in fact, they are almost non-existent in the true process.

Of course, Google wants to believe you are popular, and backlinks are a way to show them you are, but they are no longer relying on them to factor your rank, why? Because they know they can be bought!

Google has put a lot of time, effort, energy, and money into finding out what is really important to their visitors, and best of all, they have shared ALL of their findings with you, the webmaster.

You can read through their guide to find out what really matters, and what you will find…DESIGN DOES MATTER!

Having a well-designed website is not just about placing keywords on your Meta tags, titles and URL. It is not just about creating relevant, fresh, and informative content that is high quality and original, and it is not just about creating a well-designed website that is easy to navigate, IT IS ALL OF THE ABOVE!

 So, take the time to look at your website, I mean really look at it! Spend time navigating the site to make sure you can easily find your way to all your important information. Use tools from SEOSiteCheckUp.com to check your SEO standards, site load time, mobile compatibility, and site structure.

If a visitor comes to your website because they were referred there by Google, Google wants to make sure they have the best possible experience they can. After all, Google referred them to you, right? So, it is their reputation on the line each time they place your website in their search results. If you don’t deliver quality, guess what, you’re gone!

As stated in 2013, these items still count:

  • Navigation – is it easy to use, or confusing?
  • Clicks-to-page – how many clicks does it take a visitor to get to your most important pages?
  • Site load speed – does your site load quickly, or does it take a long time?
  • Content – is content being published regularly and how long is it?

How your site looks matter.

  • If you have a template that you have tried to fit your site into, chances are it doesn’t look that great. Take the time to create a custom website for a higher quality page. It is much easier to build what you need than it is to try to cram your design into an existent template.
  • Use colored fonts and backgrounds that complement each other, not drown one another out.
  • When using nav-menus, opt for a horizontal menu instead of a vertical one. Horizontal menus offer the best look and most natural feel for the visitor.
  • Keep your code and web programming to a minimum to ensure a fast load time.
  • Use a compression tool to condense the overall size of your website for a faster loading time and better user experience.
  • Properly place call-to-actions where visitors can see them as soon as they land on your page.
  • Make landing pages simple, clear, and to the point.
  • Use images that are relevant and meaningful, avoid image use for the sake of taking up space.
  • Use a font that visitors can read, not some fancy one that makes them squint. If they can’t read your words, they will leave.
  • Make sure you have a good mobile design. Most people these days are visiting your website from a mobile phone or another device, so keep in mind that a separate page may be necessary for those users. If the option for a separate mobile page is not available and the desktop-created page is hard to navigate, don’t expect them to put down their device and run to their computer, it is much easier to close your site and move on to a competitor’s site.
  • As a rule of thumb: IF YOU DON” T KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING, DON’T DO IT! This means, hire someone to help you before you mess up your site and possibly your reputation as a business owner. Read, READ and READ some more until you feel confident in your actions before you take them if planning to do it on your own. 

Thank you for reading. Continue your journey of learning through our site SEOSiteCheckUp.com. Don’t forget to take advantage of our free SEO tools!

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