Websites should be equally appealing to search engines as they are to customers. Here's why...
Just about any product that’s being researched, any service provider that is sought, or any question that needs answered begins with a Google search. In fact, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second, 3.5 billion searches every day, and more than 1.2 trillion searches every year worldwide. That’s an incredible increase from the few tens of thousands of search queries that happened daily back when Google was founded in 1998. As the best digital agencies will tell you, this means that your website should be as attractive to Google as it is to your customers to help propel your business forward.
What exactly is Search Engine Optimization or SEO?
Search engines like Google and Bing are answer machines. They exist to discover, understand and organize the internet’s top content so that they can best answer the questions searchers ask. SEO is the art and science of providing a website’s content in a way that makes it easy for search engines to discover, understand and organize that information. SEO also helps search engines identify which websites are most “trustworthy” and “authoritative”. Making it easy for search engines to identify the best information on the internet enables that website’s information to be included in more user search results.
A website being included in more user search results means more website traffic. More website traffic usually means more business!
There are two types of SEO, organic and paid. Organic SEO is when a website shows up naturally in search results based on the content on the website and the authority scores. Paid SEO happens when marketers pay to have their website come up when certain keywords are searched.
For purposes of this article, we will be focusing on organic SEO.
So, how does this translate into web design?
There are two important factors in any website design that top marketing agencies can deliver—the user experience and organic search engine performance. A website designed strictly with SEO in mind may not be visually appealing to the user. Conversely, a website with stunning visuals and appealing user experience can not be palatable to search engines. Therefore, it’s important to strike a delicate balance between user-friendliness and search engine appeal. When the user experience is good and the pages are optimized for search engine attractiveness, users spend more time browsing multiple pages, interacting with content, and completing calls to action. Google and Bing then reward that good content and satisfying user experience with higher search engine rankings for that website.
It’s a cycle. Good SEO paired with a strong user experience results in more successful visits to the site. The more successful visits a website has, the more search engines reward the site by sending more visitors.
What are the top elements that marry user experience and better search-engine placement?
Have a plan. Create a site structure based upon your customer’s needs, user flow of information, and ease in navigation. Consider all facets of the user experience before you start designing.
Craft quality content. This is a win-win for both your customers and for Google. Keep your sentences and paragraphs concise and short. Make sure you clearly direct the site visitor with prompts to help them navigate the site with ease. Include compelling imagery and a judicious use of white space for better engagement.
Use both on-page and off-page optimization strategies. Thoughtfully placing relevant keywords into site content, internal links, and multiple types of content such as images, lists and text are good examples of on-page optimization. Off-page optimization involves high customer rating on review sites like Google, as well as earning inbound links from other websites that are considered to be authoritative by search engines. For instance, if you’re a Realtor and your website has a lot of inbound links from the National Association of Realtors, that is highly favored by search engines.
Make it mobile friendly. According to a report published by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), 72.6 percent of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025. That’s nearly 3.7 billion people, so make sure your site’s user experience is a good one on a mobile device.
Make it secure. Many web hosting companies provide free SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security when your purchase a web hosting package. When a visitor (and search engine) sees there is an https:// in front of your URL, they’ll know your site is secure. If not, users often receive that scary “this site is not secure” message before being allowed to click into the site to view.
St. Petersburg-based Thompson Marketing Partners has designed websites for businesses both large and small that marry the elements of user experience with search engine optimization beautifully. They offer a full range of digital marketing services and are experts in developing and executing strategic digital marketing solutions that help clients reach their marketing goals. To learn more, visit http://www.thompsonmarketingpartners.com.