Over the years, the way that search engines determine how to rank your site has changed drastically. Once, SEO was about researching specific keywords and using those keywords as many times as possible.
However, it didn’t take long for Google and other search engines to get smart to this tactic and put other algorithms in place that determine rank based on design as well. Effective SEO definitely has an impact on how you should design your site. These are some key features you should keep in mind as you complete your designs.
1. Add Videos to Landing Pages
Landing pages are a vital part of attracting visitors to your site and giving them the exact information they’re searching for. Figuring out ways to make those landing pages even more effective can take your web design to the next level. A landing page with a video can raise conversion rates by as much as 80 percent.
An example of an excellent landing page with a video that wows visitors can be found at Outbrain. The video does not automatically load, which would be annoying, but you can click on a link titled “See How it Works” and load it. This is an excellent way to add videos without slowing load times for your landing page.
Takeaway: Adding videos to your landing pages can attract more visitors and keep them on your page for as long as it takes to watch the video.
2. Conduct A/B Testing
One of the best ways to see not only which pages attract the most traffic, but which ones resonate with site visitors is to conduct split testing. You can refine the sales funnel on a site, tweak the SEO so that it ranks better in search engines and even get feedback from site visitors about which elements they do and don’t like in your different designs.
Above is a screenshot of one feature in Google Analytics that can help you conduct split testing. You can use behaviors and experiments to create split testing models.
Takeaway: Each website audience is uniquely different, so sometimes A/B testing is the only way to be certain you are giving visitors what they want. Be sure to adhere to Google’s guidelines on A/B and multivariate testing so it doesn’t negatively affect SEO.
3. Focus on the User Experience
Are you focusing on the UX design elements? Search engines factor the usability of your site into your ranking, which can affect your SEO efforts. Look at your web design through the eyes of a site visitor. Can you easily find the elements you’re looking for? Is it intuitive?
If you want to study an example of great UX design, check out Virgin America’s website. From the minute you land on the page, the navigation is clear and straightforward. It is apparent that the majority of their site visitors want to purchase tickets, so they get right to the point on their landing page by saying “Where would you like to go?” and having them answer a few simple questions.
Takeaway: UX design is the key to earning the trust of website visitors. If you aren’t sure if your site accomplishes this, do some polling to see if your users find your website easy to use or not.
4. Shorten Load Times
It’s important that images are optimized so they load quickly. You’ll also want to check into putting your images on a CDN for faster delivery. When visitors know they can trust your site to load fast, they’re more likely to return, link to you, and tell others about your site. All of this can increase your overall web design effectiveness with site visitors. Most mobile web users will only wait 6 to 10 seconds before abandoning a page that is loading slowly.
Mercado Livre, a Brazilian site, is the fastest loading site on the Internet, even outranking giant online retailer Amazon. If you pull up the site, you will notice how it loads at lightning speed. There is almost no pause before the site is fully loaded.
Takeaway: The faster your site loads, the better. You can reduce your bounce rates by having a fast loading website.
5. Make Designs Responsive
In today’s digital age, where more and more people are accessing the Internet via mobile devices, a responsive design is a necessity. Google seems to think it’s important to have a responsive design, too. They now encourage designers to think about mobile technology when designing. The only reason Google advises such things is because they take that element into consideration when ranking websites.
One eCommerce website that does responsive design extremely well is Skinny Ties. This company has a site that translates well on desktop and on mobile and is fully functional on both.
Takeaway: Even Google advises making sure your site is mobile friendly. It would behoove you to make sure your site looks great both on a desktop and a smartphone.
6. Streamline Coding
Google’s spiders seek out unique content and rank your site based on that and many other factors. However, if you design is full of CSS and other coding, then it might be hard for Google to figure out whether your content is worthy of their rankings or not. Make sure you include CSS in an external file.
You can use a search engine spider simulator tool to validate your code’s accessibility to search engine spiders. Below is a screenshot that shows just how simple this tool is to use. You just put in your page that you want the simulator to crawl and you’ll receive a report of possible code to reduce or eliminate.
Takeaway: Reduce other coding where you can, streamlining things and making the back-end of your web design as clean as possible.
7. Forget Trendy Designs
Although it’s important to know about the different types of popular designs, focusing too much on popular trends can make your designs quickly obsolete. One example is parallax design, where everything is on one page and the user can scroll endlessly.
However, search engines don’t tend to rank parallax content very highly. You’re also limiting opportunities for keyword placement to just that one page. It’s difficult to rank for a specific keyword with Parallax designs because having so much content on a single pate waters down the words.
To picture a parallax design, you’d have to visit a site like Jess and Russ. Although the design itself is beautiful, it may not help this company rank as well in search engines as it otherwise might.
Takeaway: It is best to stick with designs search engines like than to go so far outside the box that search engines don’t know how to fit the site within their algorithms.