Web design increasingly impacts your website’s rankings with search engines, and visitors are increasingly demanding optimization of your site relative to their expectations. What web design decisions can boost your site’s SEO while improving the visitor’s experience?
Make the Site’s Intent Clear Immediately
People need to know that your website answers their need or want almost immediately. Presenting new visitors with pop up ads, videos at the top of your page and anything else that gets in the way of finding answers will cause people to bounce away. And a high bounce rate will hurt your site’s ranking in the search engine results page.
You should improve your website by making the content scanable. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs of text to improve readability and the ease of quickly finding the content they want. Use headers and sub-headers so people can find the answer in the middle of a page, if you aren’t going to create a subdomain dedicated to each particular topic or product.
Design a Website That Works on Every Device
Your best route is to design a website that works on computers, tablets and mobile devices. An equally important task is designing a website that doesn’t rely on the two or three main browsers like Internet Explorer and Safari. This ensures your website is functional for everyone and prevents bounces due to poor website interaction that end up hurting your website ranking.
Use Simple and Understandable URL Structures
Use URL structures that are easy to understand like “oursite.com/homepage” or “oursite.com/how-to-clear-error-12345”. When the URL includes at least one keyword that users searching for that content want, it will boost your site’s SEO. And URL structures that clearly communicate the content it references make them shareable and likely to be followed even if the link is all that is shared. Obviously there are exceptions, such as the links embedded in Tweets.
Make your fonts high contrast to improve its readability. If you use text that has poor contrast, you risk a negative SEO penalty for hidden text, even when it isn’t intended to be hidden. Use dark font on a light background or light font on a dark background. David Ogilvy says never to use reverse type, the white text on a black background, since its reading comprehension is far lower than white on black.
If you use text on an image or multicolored background, use white letters surrounded by a black border.
Only use commonly used fonts so that no one’s website looks like Chinese because you used an elegant but rarely used font.
Another tactic to improve readability is to set webpage text lines at a maximum of 75 characters. When line length is too high, some won’t bother to start to read it, while failure for the content to wrap to the next line in some browsers will require others to have to slide over to read it. (Hint: most won’t.)
Call To Action Buttons
If you have a call to action button, it needs to be bright enough to capture their attention but not clash with the colors used on the rest of the page. The call to action needs to give someone a reason to want to click it, like “Sign up for the drawing here!” or “Register for our free newsletter!” Readability is an issue for call to action buttons, too; the instructions on the button should be ten words or less, ideally five or less.
Give People Control Over Windows
Never use pop-ups, even if they promote your own products or deals that someone is searching for. Let people control when new windows open when they click on a link to related content, instead of opening a new window. You also shouldn’t automatically resize anyone’s browser window, since taking away this control makes them wonder what else your site might be doing in the background.
Don’t Waste Bandwidth
Around half of the population expects your website to load within three seconds, and their satisfaction with your website falls around 1/8th for every second longer it takes. Imagine their disdain when the site took longer to load because you wanted to play voice over narration or background music they may not even like. If an audio file or video presentation is essential to the webpage, require the user to select it to play it. This avoids the problem of your website taking so long to load that search engines penalize it as being essentially uncrawlable.
Funnels and Landing Pages
Never use a homepage that takes people to your “real” website. Landing pages in general are penalized by search engines, and any tactic that relies on redirects could be interrupted by a failure to update links and users stopping the transfer.