Creating visually appealing website that ranks as good as it looks is vital for your websites’ success. Today’s topic is how to embrace simple SEO web design tips that can help your website gain distinction amongst your competitors and appeal to search engines stringent (yet practical) algorithms.
Topics discussed are:
- Visual Cues
- Alternative Images
- Prioritization of Information
- Supporting Content
- Link Structure / Link Flow
Since we are not all predominantly left-brained and like technical documentation or dry logical structures to assimilate information, appealing to a mixed audience or market segment based on gender, age, demographic or geographic appeal means you will need to rely on both intellectual and visual cues to convey critical data.
Emphasizing images, ads or offers above the fold is crucial for your website, but why is this? With information overload reaching all time heights, people don’t always have things such as (1) the ideal amount of time (2) an environment that allows them to focus or (3) the patience to ACTUALLY read your content.
This means you have to create appealing visual cues in order to entice them to investigate your offer or summarize your message and its benefit to them quickly and coherently to stimulate an emotional trigger.
This is accomplished through:
- Large Headlines
- Images (such as arrows, models, illustrations) to aid cognition.
- Bullets (to streamline the thought process or convey benefits).
- Proper use of white space: de-cluttering the layout (one conversion cue per segment).
- Emphasis through font size or selection
- Not superfluously over-stating a point.
Yet, simultaneously, search engines require:
- Crawl ability – pages and content (not java script, cookie cutter dynamic content or flash)
- Sufficient link flow (enough links from enough pages)
- Enough content (to distinguish the page) and…
- A unique enough template that is unique (to eliminate duplicate content).
Here are a few quick tips you can use to accomplish this:
1. Use images and their alt attribute to seamlessly link pages and segments together (instead of text links) or primary navigation.
2. Make sure all pages are linked from somewhere (preferably a page with more pull and authority) if you want that page to get ranked.
3. Add a blog to a sub folder or sub domain (to add additional supporting content) to provide a stronger vector of relevant content for a search engine to parse to aid your domain in gaining more authority.
4. Remove duplicate pages through using canonical tags or noindex, follow in the meta data of the page.
5. Use internal links intelligently, making sure you only cross-link from relevant pages to other relevant pages. This virtually themes the pages to reinforce each other over time.
Prioritization of Information
Depending on the type of website you have and whether or not it has commercial intent as a baseline for people to take action on your website and purchase – or if you make money by sending visitors to other websites determine which elements you prioritize in the web pages visual flow.
For example, if your website is designed for lead capture, then all elements “above the fold” or above the average resolution of the most predominant visitors computer monitor resolution settings “scroll line” (just check your analytics for the most common) should have all of the necessary visual and intellectual cues to encourage a viewer to take action.
Since many to not scroll, make sure you get right to the point and propose a benefit supported by trust symbols, testimonials or other supporting visual cues to get them to complete the conversion objective.
There is no shame in a simple page with an arrow and one conversion objective (as long as it works). Oftentimes, people make their ads too clever and ultimately make the reader “think too much” and lose the viewer as a result of creating alternative thought processes.
If the page is designed for search engines, there is a threshold required for on page and off page relevance. Depending on how competitive the keyword you are targeting is, or how many pages you have dedicated to the theme (subject) determines if you can use the sparse page as a consolidated landing page or if you need to use a more tactical “keyword-rich” alternative page.
Link Structure / Link Flow
In order to rank, you will need links – both internal from within your website and from other sites. For the internal pages, this is where the importance of supporting/topical content and preferred landing pages face-off in the SERPs (search engine result pages).
Supporting pages can serve 2 purposes; the first is to get indexed and rank in search engines and then link to the preferred landing page and the second is rank and then be redirected to the new landing page.
Regardless of which method you employ, make sure all visual cues are conducive to the type of visitor and what their needs are, but for the SEO required, make sure each page is linked from similar pages that either rank or are intended to rank within the website for specific keyword variations.
Keep in mind that from an SEO perspective, you will need to manage link flow and ensuring the pages are not leaking (by having massive amounts of links leaving the page). Links in to links out is one of the most guarded SEO metrics known as link-flow. The idea is to create an apex for a keyword or cluster or semantic phrases, then point links at the most aligned page capable of representing the keyword to a search engine.
The more links leaving the page, the harder it will be to get that page to rank unless (1) the site is strong and the pages linked from that page are also strong and independent to a degree and (2) how many internal links or deep links (links from other websites) are propping that page up.
Landing pages should have minimal links leaving it, it is the apex or target page, therefore every link leaving it should be for conversion or ranking another page.
While it is better to customize a template to make sure that minimizing the noise on a page from employing things like breadcrumb navigation or a bulleted list for preferred navigation, there are alternatives for relevant internal linking such as using related posts or “people who searched for this also searched for” product A, B and C to funnel link flow effectively.
You can have a beautiful site that has the entire SEO framework integrated into the design while usability and conversion cues are present for visitors to seamlessly glide through the pages to find the ideal conversion funnel. Those who operate under the assumption that SEO and design are two schools of thought have yet to see true SEO web design in action.