Doing well in the search engines basically comes down to one thing: being perceived as an important source of information.
You might be wondering how the design of your blog or website could have anything to do with your placement in the search results. Afterall, you’ve probably been told on numerous occassions that the only thing that matters are things like links and keywords. The fact of the matter is that most amateur SEO professionals don’t have the slightest clue about why design matters. Most of them assume that it doesn’t. And you can tell by looking at the kind of content they promote.
Professional SEOs recognize several things that others overlook. Below, I’ve listed the 5 reasons you should pay attention to your blog or website design if you REALLY care about search engine placement.
1. Good design matters to search engines
Over at Search Engine Journal I wrote an article titled SEO Quality Indicators & The Heap Paradox where I basically point out that when evaluating a website, search engines determine the value of a site by adding up “quality indicators.” Quality indicators are signs that your website is a good, strong, well produced source of solid content. The good news is that many quality indicators are related to the design of your site.
For example: a great SEO design will:
- Minimize code while highlighting content
- Place the content towards the top of the site’s source code
- Use html tags and CSS as optimal indicators of your site’s content
2. Good design makes marketing easier
On the Internet, search marketing amounts to getting other sites to mention you on their websites. You do this by building interesting content for other sites to link to. However, website editors are much less likely to link to a site with a poor design, even if that site has great content.
As a marketer of online content, I can tell you without hesitation that the number of one hurdle to promoting your site online is a bad design. A bad design can ruin great services or content.
3. Good design makes branding easier
The holy grail of SEO is to become an authority in your niche. Once you are an authority, you become a link magnet, and your online marketing takes place automatically without much work.
The job of becoming an online authority is made much easier by having a great design that screams quality.
4. Good design gets you noticed by the design community
I didn’t realize this until recently, but one of the largest communities on the Internet is the design community. There are hundreds of design galleries and other sites that highlight great website and blog designs. These end up being free and very valuable links.
As an example, take my site College Crunch which has been featured in the WordPress.org Showcase Gallery as one of the Top Rated sites. This opportunity opened my eyes to the positive effects of having a great site design.
5. Good design lowers your bounce rate
A lot of people don’t know this, but Google and other search engines actually monitor the way visitors interact with your website. If people leave your website moments after first arriving, they are said to have “bounced.” The search engines take this statistic very seriously because if people leave your site quickly, it means they were not happy with the search result. Since search engines want good search results, they move sites with low bounce rates up and sites with high bounce rates down.
Moral of the story: people are more likely to stay at your site and look around if it looks nice. This has a postive effect on your search rankings.
Serious SEOs know the value of having a solid blog or website design. In the ultra competitive world of search, a great design not only sets your site apart in the eyes of visitors, but also in the eyes of the search engines. It can make all the difference
Ryan Caldwell is an experienced online entrepreneur who has built a number of very successful web properties such as PopCrunch, BusinessPundit and RideLust.
Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.