One of the greatest sources of frustration for anybody engaged in search engine optimisation (SEO) is trying to promote a poorly optimised website. You can work yourself into the ground generating link-worthy content for guest posts, and you can build a sophisticated link-building profile that centres on relevance and quality without appearing unnatural. But what good is it to create all of this momentum and draw search traffic to your target site if that site is poorly designed and everybody bounces away within seconds?
The most successful SEO campaign is of little value if those visitors are unimpressed — or even frustrated — upon reaching your website. So the value of website design as it relates to SEO cannot be overstated.
To effectively fulfil their ultimate purpose, optimisation strategies must include both on-site and off-site SEO. Many web designers (and SEO specialists) seem to overlook this fact.
Below are six ways that a properly optimised website can take full advantage of off-site SEO link building strategies.
1. Engaging Design Reduces Visitor Bounce Rate
When a visitor to your website leaves the site without interacting with it in any way, this is called a ‘bounce’. It is not uncommon for website visitors to bounce away from a website within 10 seconds of their arrival. Your site may have exactly the kind of information that those visitors were looking for, but they didn’t even stick around long enough to read it.
Why is that?
The problem is usually not the actual content itself. The problem may have been that the web page took too long to load, and the visitor got impatient and clicked away before reading anything.
Or it might be that those visitors love videos but get bored with mountains of text, so they left right away.
On the other hand, some visitors may have stayed for 5 minutes and read the article on your homepage from start to finish, but when there weren’t any links at the end of the article to more content or calls to action, they bounced.
2. A Well-Designed Website Inspires Trust
Nobody wants to hand out their credit card or personal information to a website that looks unprofessional or spammy. A clean, functional website design exudes professionalism and sets your visitors at ease. The old adage is still true: “People buy from those they know, like and trust.”
Only a professionally designed website that functions smoothly and is aesthetically appealing will gain your customers’ trust.
3. On-Page SEO Improves and Highlights Strong Content
The real meat of any commercial website is its content — the information, products, and services it provides to solve your customers’ problems. But as was discussed above, visitors who bounce away often leave before even giving your content a chance.
Search engines want to lead their customers to high-quality websites that will offer them relevant content. This is where SEO and web design join forces to bring your amazing content to the reader’s attention.
Off-site SEO draws targeted search traffic to your front door. On-site SEO welcomes customers in and leads them straight to engaging content that meets their query and provides the solutions they’re looking for.
4. Effective SEO Encourages Organic Link-Building
To succeed in the long-term, your SEO efforts must eventually produce organic links from your site visitors and customers themselves. You want your website to provide a positive user-experience that they will want to share online with their own friends and followers. This is the modern, Internet-Age equivalent of free, word-of-mouth advertising, and it is the key to growing your business.
5. Effective On-Page SEO Improves Internal Navigation For Visitors And Web Crawlers
Internal linking is a major factor in on-page SEO, and it’s amazing how often this simple tactic is overlooked. Nearly every post or page on your website should offer several links to related content on your site. Failure to offer readers another page to visit is a key factor in inflated bounce rates and low conversion rates. Don’t lead your readers into a dead end; always offer them something to click on.
But humans aren’t the only visitors you’ll have on your website. You’ll also have many web crawling programs sent out by search engines and social media platforms. You want your site to be easily navigable for them too.
An internal linking structure that makes sense will help the search engines index your site too. Avoid Flash graphics with embedded links that are unreadable to these bots. If the search bots can’t read your images and follow your links, then large portions of your site may go unnoticed. This could cause you to lose out on massive search traffic opportunities.
6. Optimised Web Design Improves Conversion Rate
This benefit of solid web design is indirectly related to SEO, but since the bottom line for any commercial website is its ability to turn a profit, conversion rate deserves an honourable mention.
What has already been hinted at above regarding conversion rate? How do you think SEO and web design influence lead generation and sales?
It largely comes back to bounce rate. If your visitors aren’t quickly finding something of interest on your site, then they’re going to leave without converting. You’ve got to provide a smooth, engaging user-experience if you want them to become actual customers. This means more than just creating a website that looks pretty or that has your contact information and a picture of your building.
To be successful you need a website that flows. Pages need to load quickly. You need visual media that quickly grabs visitors’ attention. You need internal links for humans and web crawlers to follow. You need to build trust every step of the way.