Websites are so important in this ever-growing digital world. They have replaced the traditional shop window when it comes to displaying your business. Oftentimes people try and separate SEO and website design but in truth, they are incredibly intrinsically linked. SEO is all about improving your websites rankings on search results pages, so it’s clear to see that the two are linked and shouldn’t be separated from one another.
This has always been the case, but why are we talking about this now more than ever in 2019? Google is constantly making changes to its algorithm, which is why we at Digital Ethos are constantly upping our game, and this year there are some big changes that link to website design. Check out this guide to see why you could need a new website in 2019.
The Purpose of a Website
Websites look better now than ever before. Taking a trip down memory lane to those websites created in the 90s in the early days of the internet is certainly not a pleasant trip. The philosophy of what a website should be hasn’t changed all that much though, just the ways that you can achieve these aims.
One way to view your site is that it is a digital storefront. It presents your company to the whole of the internet. The content on those landing pages is the equivalent to what you saw in the shop windows when walking down your local high street. If you have a rubbish shop front, nobody will step in to buy anything so you make your shop front as attractive as possible to your target audience. You need to have this mentality when designing your website.
Making sure users don’t look at your shop front and run away is the real aim of web design. Thinking about what they want, making it easy to find and making it visually pleasing to your target audience. Make sure what they see is what you want.
Here is the challenge when it comes to designing a website. First, you need to recognise that there is more than one type of person coming to the site. Second that each person comes with different needs, looking to solve different problems.
SEO and Website Design
Therefore you should create a website with a specific purpose in mind. This is so what you’re presenting is what your desired user will want to see. The purpose can change depending on the website, for example, an informational site like Wikipedia will have a different purpose to e-commerce sites like Amazon.
This links to SEO very closely, you have to imagine search queries as questions you are seeking to answer and answer it better than the competition. Once that question is answered, they need to then take action on this so the site should also encourage this. The page they land on should be answering the question they originally had, as well as a great website design so they can access further information easily when their initial question is answered.
The goal then is identifying who are the different user types who are coming to your website. Then to identify what specifically are the problems they are trying to solve. And then to make sure each user’s needs are clearly displayed in a visually compelling manner (people don’t like to read these days). SEO can be a long and intensive process by measuring results over long periods of time, but better websites can bring around some real change.
Why Website Design Matters Even More for SEO in 2019
It used to be that website design wasn’t quite as important for SEO and ranking well because you could game the system a bit. Google would read your site as Google rather than a person, they didn’t have proper algorithms that could analyse the design of a website so well. It just crawled the content of the site to see if it hit the ranking factors it had set.
The number of blogs you see on the search results pages which are only there to rank pages rather than being read speaks to this issue. They are appealing to Google the search engine rather than those who are searching, the customer. This isn’t how it should be and Google is working on fixing that.
Google introduced Google Panda in 2011, an algorithmic update aiming to tackle this. Google Panda was given a rigorous set of questions to answer when looking at content. These were all aimed at the user and human quality ratings. It basically tries to assess if the content is high-quality or not and relevant to the users.
The main algorithm now works in conjunction with Google RankBrain to assess content and rank it. RankBrain is a separate algorithm, which assesses user experience with content in a different way. While Panda wants to make sure it looks good and asks hypothetical questions of the content, predicting what users will do, RankBrain instead analyses how users engage with the content to determine if it’s good or not. RankBrain focuses on user experience signals (UX signals) and the two most important are:
Dwell time is how long a searcher spends on your page. It’s relevant because if a person clicks on your search result and decides that it isn’t relevant or doesn’t answer the query, it clearly shouldn’t be high up on the first page. How many times have you wanted to find out some information, clicked on the first result and realised it was irrelevant and left immediately. Google sees this and is constantly trying to adjust the first page due to this.
Therefore RankBrain penalises pages with low dwell time and boosts pages with high dwell time. The average dwell time is around 3 minutes and 10 seconds so you need to try and keep users around for at least this time. Therefore you not only need people to click your content but you need them to stay there for RankBrain to view it as relevant.
Website Design and Dwell Time
So why does this matter to website design? This is because Google now has a more elegant way of measuring if people immediately turn their noses up at your website. They are essentially trying to analyse user experience with web pages.
This obviously means you should now tailor new content appropriately but this is only half the battle. You can optimise the content all you like but if your site is just unappealing to look at, a lot of people will simply just leave. You don’t want all that hard work to go to waste! There are four ways in which you can improve user experience with great web design:
Website Design Take Home Points
Google is now making the market more and more competitive with sophisticated algorithms measuring user experience with your site. Positive user experience will result in a longer dwell time, which Google will notice and measure. Not only will users be more encouraged to interact with the rest of your site but Google will push you up in the search results page. It’s a win-win situation.
These are a few main improvements you can make, but oftentimes if your site hasn’t received any attention for a long time some wholesale improvements might be needed. We at Digital Ethos can build you a new site which is easy for both you to edit and manage as well as easy for customers to use. We offer comprehensive website design and development services. Rethink your digital storefront and really ask yourself, is this going to give the user a positive experience?