A well-optimized website is about so much more than search engine optimization (SEO), which is having the right keywords on your web page; it’s about having a design that is user friendly and loads quickly. While keywords and content are certainly important, your entire site needs to be welcoming and easy for visitors to navigate.
A confusing layout makes it hard for visitors to find what they are looking for and this will affect your ranking in the search engine result pages (SERPs). And those who do happen to find your website in search are likely going to hit the “back” button pretty quickly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to create a layout that is easy to use and SEO friendly. Let’s explore the visual aspects of your website first.
Optimizing Your Website for The Best First Impression
- Make your website easy to navigate. Title your menu items so that they make sense for the end user, not just you and people that work in your company. You don’t want your website visitors to have to guess what a menu item means.
- All the dropdown sub-menu items should fall in line with the main menu item title. Don’t just put something in a dropdown menu because it needs a home.
- Don’t over do it on images, use the optimum image size for web to decrease load time. Use images that support the text that is with the image. (We’ll discuss images a little more later.)
Keeping Visitors on Your Website Longer
- Include the “Search” function on your website on every page. This will make it easier for users to find what they are looking for and encourages them to click more links on your website. This will help decrease your bounce rate and will also help you to create and optimize your other website content (as you can see what users search on your website in webmaster tools).
- Make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for on your website. This includes listing your social media icons on every page of your website and how to call / email you. Don’t just list them on the home page and blog page.
- Keep the sidebars items focused on things that include call-to-actions, like email opt-ins, free downloads and recently published posts.
Optimizing Your Website For SEO in All the Right Places
By now you realize it is important to have commonly searched keywords and phrases on your website in order to get your website to rank higher on the search engine result pages. Where you put those keywords on your website matters as much as having them on the website.
- Include your keywords or phrase in the page title and within the first two sentences of the page or post. It is important that you don’t just stuff keywords or phrase into sentences, but that it flows naturally. (Remember, Google wants your content to be written for humans.)
- It is also important that you include the keyword or phrase in title tags and the meta description for each page or post.
- Don’t forget to include the keyword or phrase in the page content, page URL and image file name that you include in the page or post.
Websites tend to contain a lot of content on them, especially after they have been around awhile. Remember, you don’t want all of that content cluttered onto one page. Instead, you should include links to other pages, which contain specific types of content. You want to take your website visitors on a journey through your website. This will increase your click through, which is another important ranking factor.
Make Sure Your Website is Compatible With All Web Browsers and Mobile Devices
People use a variety of different browsers and methods to access the Internet. Different browsers and mobile devices will display your website and your content differently. Internet Explorer and mobile is especially known for killing a website’s look and feel if you don’t optimize for these. Plus, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, Google can and will remove your website from mobile search results.
It’s your job to make sure your website maintains its look across the web. Make sure and check periodically to ensure all browsers and devices are still displaying your website and content properly.
Use Images Sparingly
Images are a wonderful addition to any website and can give it color, style and interest. However, overusing images is a problem because it will make your pages slow to load and especially when a mobile user is hitting your website, you don’t want this issue. Google and other major search engines don’t like slow loading websites. Make sure to optimize images not only for SEO as mentioned above, but file size.
So don’t overdo it, and keep this in mind with other hard-to-load media, such as videos. If you are going to use a lot of this type of content on your website, you might consider excluding them from the mobile version. Also, perhaps not having them on the main landing pages, but on pages after the user clicks through a bit deeper into the website.
It’s also important to make all of your links text-based, not picture-based. Search engines don’t know how to “read” non-text information, so using images instead of text can really hold you back.
Above was just a few simple ways to keep your website user and SEO friendly. Comment below what steps you take to maintain a website that keeps your visitors happy and Google.