Organic search results at Google are determined by an algorithm containing hundreds of factors which measure various website qualities which its search engineers deem important for users. In its Google Webmaster Guidelines, the giant search engine reveals that its primary objective is to provide the most relevant results and best site experience for its users. Site stickiness or how long a visitor stays on a website is a good indicator of site experience. It’s not enough to incorporate keywords and create useful content— a website must observe good web design to attract users and encourage visitors to linger on its pages.
Web design tips for SEO
Visual appeal: Website visitors decide very quickly whether a site is worth looking into. A recent study conducted by the Missouri University of Science and Technology suggests that it takes less than two-tenths of a second for a website to create a first impression on its visitors. The longer a visitor views a website, the more favorable it appears to the visitor. (Source: http://news.mst.edu/2012/02/eye-tracking_studies_show_firs.html)
Page speed: Fast loading times tend to make visitors stay on a website. Various factors can affect page speed such as heavy image files and flash files. Keep each page “light” by limiting images to one or two interesting photos or a single video for each page. Other technical adjustments that can speed up a website include browser caching and optimising images.
Readability: A website must have a pleasant background colour which provides an attractive contrast of text colour to enable users to read the page content easily. Generally, a white background and black text works best for reading articles.
Business logo: Spending on graphic logo design is a sound investment not only for creating a desired image for a company or website but also to improve site stickiness as the same eye tracking study suggests that website users spend some time viewing a website’s logo.
Navigability: How a site visitor moves from one page to the next depends on the website’s navigation menu. Headings must clearly describe page content and the menu must be arranged in a logical order, from general to specific topics. Visitors must be able to find what they’re looking for in just a few clicks. Links must be tested frequently to ensure that they’re working and don’t lead to error pages.
Search box: Adding a search box at the top right hand side of every web page gives the website another chance to prolong a site visitor’s stay when an initial examination of the page does not yield the desired information.
Social networking links: Site visitors tend to explore social networking links appearing on a website. Buttons of social media sites not only add credibility to the business website but more importantly allows the site visitor to engage in online conversations with the business or organisation. More clicks on the available links can lead to more Likes or Follows, Shares and Retweets, which are favorable social signals for SEO.
Quality written content: Reading helpful and interesting information on a website is still a favourite activity among Internet users. Thus, the same Missouri University study showed that its participants are attracted to a website’s articles and tend to spend some time viewing text content. Developing quality content is also a great SEO strategy for generating more sharing and tagging activity on social networks.
*Maximise the bottom portion of website: Web pages tend to be top heavy with most of the interesting content appearing in the upper most portion while the bottom of the page bears scant and tiny text content. Site visitors also view the bottom of the web page so it’s best to include links to social media networking sites, most popular articles, recent articles and other interesting content
Google suggests creating websites which appeal to site visitors rather than its crawlers. Thus, developing good web design for Internet users can yield better SEO results than addressing every Google algorithmic change.