Why website design matters for SEO

One of the things that surprises many clients is exactly how many aspects of the website come in to consideration when designing an SEO strategy. When we’re looking at the factors that will determine where your website ranks in the search engines, we’re considering:

  • The web host you’re operating with
  • How quickly the website loads
  • The structure of content and navigation
  • Even how the website looks

Yes… even how the website looks!

A website’s visual design can have a huge impact on its overall search performance – as well as how engaged users are and whether or not they ultimately convert in to customers.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways a website’s design can help or hurt its performance:

Themes and link structure

Many websites these days are built from popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Wix. With good reason, too: a good content management system is the most efficient and effective way to build a modern, interactive, and responsive website. Why reinvent the wheel?

Even the visual designs can be imported with a few clicks, recycled, and repurposed for a new website’s use. The problem? Sometimes those themes aren’t SEO optimized. Here’s what we’re usually looking for:

  • Link structure
  • Content organization and hierarchy
  • Duplicate published content

For the most part, our goal here is to ensure the website’s hyperlinks are structured in such a way that all of the website’s content are easily available. We’d also like to minimize the number of clicks that it takes to get from the home page to the “deepest” page on your website, and there are a variety of ways to set up such an organizational system.

And while duplicate content penalties don’t exist like they used to, it’s still something that can split up your link power, confuse the search engines, and hurt your rank. Proper hierarchy, use of canonical link definitions, and avoiding duplication in the first place can go a long way to improving your search engine positioning.

User response and behavior

If your bounce rate is through the roof and people are leaving your website before they’ve even had a chance to look around, it’s likely that something about the way it looks is scaring them off. The internet has come a long way in the years I’ve been online, and people today tend to expect a certain level of professionalism and freshness that can be conveyed with a clean, modern design.

A/B testing provides an opportunity to study these behavioral responses to different designs, and we’ll help you find one that looks good and keeps the customers happy, too.

In addition to watching total traffic trends, we’re also always taking a close look at conversion rates. Traffic is only as good as the engagement (and sales) it creates, after all!

Excessive distractions

It can be tempting to load every widget, link, option, and gadget that you can on to a website. More is better, right?

Not always! Too many distractions or ads can make visitors lose sight of what your website’s purpose truly is. Are you trying to share information? Create new customer relationships? Sell something?

It’s important to think deeply about why your website exists, and to focus on enhancing just those features that promote those goals. Excessive clutter can hurt a user’s experience, and a poor user experience is also strongly correlated with poor search rankings and a lack of organic traffic.

Controlled experimentation

Finding a visual design that works for your website means making three parties happy:

  • The website’s owner
  • Its customers
  • The search engines that bring traffic

A certain look or theme may be great at one or two of those, but it could also put the whole project in danger by failing to satisfy the third.

At JacksonvilleSEO.net, Our job is to come in, recognize if there is a problem, and provide solutions. We can edit an existing theme, customize it for your brand, or even start over with a new one. If necessary, or desired, we can even set up a complete redesign from scratch.

We don’t achieve this by coming in with a preset notion of what your website should look like. We accomplish this goal by listening to you, the owner, and running constant experiments to get direct and indirect feedback from your audience. Every change is recorded and measured, and the results are also measured through data about search rankings and user behaviors.

Most of all, we’re going to ensure that all the stakeholders have something they like to look at and spend time with. That’s what website success is all about, and we’re looking forward to helping you get there!