Your website is a crucial factor in how you present and convey your business to your target market. It’s where your potential customers will go to find out more information about your business, your brand, service or product and your point of difference.
With your website being so important in engaging your audience, its user friendliness and visual appeal are elements that most business owners will put a lot of time, thought and effort into.
There are many components to creating a visually attractive website. There is the logo, the font, layout and content. However, there is no point in having a beautiful website if you’re the only person that ever sees it. A major factor of having a website is to convert traffic to leads. A key way to generate traffic is to have a best practice SEO strategy that allows people to find your website.
But did you know that your beautifully designed homepage could be hindering your SEO efforts? Did you know that the stunning photography that you have strategically placed is preventing your keywords from getting picked up by search engines? However, that’s not to say that you can’t have both – you can. You can still have an attractive website and a website that ranks high in search engines. Most of the time, it’s all about making a few tweaks.
Here are some common ways your website design or structure could be impacting your SEO strategy.
The H1 is missing
Particularly with a homepage, its visual impact is something that most business owners and designers prioritise. You want your visitors to be instantly engaged with your website. This is sometimes done by having a professionally designed rolling banner as soon as you enter a website or a sequence of images showcasing your products.
However, search engines don’t prioritise these elements. Of course, they are important to the look of your site, but don’t compromise best practice structure over visuals.
Your H1 is the top element on each page of your website. It is normally the title or the first headline of a page. Many businesses mistakenly see H1’s as just text. This is often the thought process when viewing a site in mobile. With the logo and text sometimes being the only visible elements when first entering a website, businesses are inclined to replace the text with an image or banner.
The H1 is what search engines first crawl on your page. From this, search engines will determine what your site is about, how relevant it is to the user’s search and get you ranking for your keywords.
A rule of thumb is that if a user enters your website and they can’t tell what your website or page is about at a quick glance, then most likely it isn’t providing a great user experience, which is what search engines prioritise. A clear and succinct H1 that features your keywords will allow your visitors to understand what you have to offer without needing to scroll deep within your page.
Large image files
Images and infographics are important to increase your online presence. These are elements that truly engage a visitor and will encourage them to share, save or like your content. The more your content is shared, the more valuable it is seen by search engines.
However, make sure you are taking notice of how large your image files are. You might think having a large, hi resolution image of your product as the highlight of your page will draw in your audience and maybe it does. However, it can impact your site speed, which can decrease your search ranking. Search engines don’t like slow loading sites, not matter how “pretty” it may be.
Large images, videos and rolling banners are just some of the biggest culprits that impact page speed and load time. In order to find out how quickly or slowly your page is loading, do a simple test using a page speed checker. Using the website speed test feature by Pingdom allows you to simply type in your URL and within seconds it will give you your average site loading speed.
Most SEO experts will say that around 3 seconds is an ideal page loading time. Any longer and your visitors may be exiting your site before they even get to the loading page.
To quickly see the file sizes of your images on each page, simply right click on an image and inspect its properties. It will normally provide you with the image size and resolution. Try and reduce the resolution of any large files by 50 per cent. This should help solve your page speed issue and increase your website’s search rank.
Over the last 5 years, pop-up forms or downloads have become a common way to capture visitor data. The trouble is, Google sees these types of forms as intrusive to the user experience.
Many of us have been faced with a pop-up when visiting a website. More often than not, most of us will quickly try and shut it down to try and get on with the reason for being on the site.
The main thing to remember is that anything that disrupts the user experience or the visitor’s intention of being on your site will mostly likely impact your search ranking. On mobile, a pop-up can be particularly intrusive. It is also more difficult to close down pop-ups on small screen devices.
Take a look to see whether your bounce rate has increased since you integrated a pop-up feature or whether your organic traffic is not as high as it once was. Most likely, it is because your visitors aren’t loving that form telling them to down a free article or sign-up to your newsletter.
Rather than a pop-up, think about incorporating a static form in a key area of your page. Having a top download bar, above the menu, can be an ideal page. You can also set it up so it is featured on every page of your site. Just ensure it isn’t interfering with your heading structure.
Thinking text in images counts
Most of us understand the importance of content to a search ranking strategy. Unfortunately, placing text inside an image doesn’t count. It doesn’t get picked up by search engines and in most cases will just distract from the image itself, which interrupts the user experience.
In order for text to be important it has to be seen by search engines. Text in the body of your page, headings and footers will all get picked up. Text in titles and descriptions of images will also get picked up, but not text “in” the image itself.
A common mistake is placing an image banner with the “headline” of your page within this. Your headline or H1 tag is not getting picked up by search engines, which can have a negative impact on your search visibility.
Also, text inside images isn’t always the best in mobile. Unless your image with text is suitable for a responsive design, the text may appear small and difficult to read. Again, this will impact user experience and contribute to your bounce rate.
Having long scrolling features
There are some websites that will feature the first 10 blogs on a page and as the user scrolls further down the page, more blogs will appear. When it comes to search engines, they will only pick up the content that is initially there. The robots will only crawl what links are on the page, not the blogs that load once the user gets down to a certain place on the page.
There are ways of setting your site up so you can have this type of infinite scroll and still allow for the search engine robots to pick up on these links. However, sometimes it can be best to think of another design framework that can be just as effective.
Not separating product or services
Your page layout could also be hindering your search ranking efforts due to not taking advantage of SEO hot spots. The less pages your have, the less content you will have and the less keywords you can rank for.
For example, take a beverage business that may have 5 different types of drinks. Rather than creating an informative page for each drink, they place all their drinks on one “product” page.
This impacts SEO in a couple of ways. Best practice search ranking calls for only have 1 keyword focus per page. If you have all your products sitting together, your keyword strategy will get confusing.
Also, when you have all your products bundled together, you won’t be able to really hone in on your keywords in your page URLs. For example, if you had an energy drink and a calming drink, you should have two separate web pages for each. You can then have the keywords “energy drink” and “calming beverage” in two separate URLs, which will boost your search ranking for these two terms. This is something you wouldn’t be able to do with all your products on the one page.
Not enough information
Some individuals think that less is more when it comes to content. In a way, this can be correct. Having words for the sake of words isn’t a great way to engage your audience. However, not having enough information can be just as detrimental.
Your visitors have come to your website for a reason. Whether it is to find out more about your product or service, or learn more about your company. If your site isn’t giving your visitors what they want, it will contribute to your bounce rate and ultimately you will be losing a potential customer or sale.
You might prefer to let your quality photography do all the talking. After all, an image tells a thousand words, right? However, not when it comes to search engines. They see content as king. Without a clear description of your page, with subheadings and naturally flowing content then search engines may see your site as being not as informative as your competitors’ sites.
Also, make sure you have enough information about your key services and products, and don’t’ make your visitors go searching for it. For example, if you sell commercial cleaning equipment and one of your products is carpet cleaning machines, it should be clear that your business sells this product. Sometimes what is obvious to the business isn’t so obvious to your target market that may have never heard of you before. Ensure key products and services are on your homepage or have a main tab.
Your website’s design is very important to user experience. If done right, it can conjure emotion, reflect brand values, demonstrate clear call to actions and make visiting your website an engaging experience. Yet, it’s important to not sacrifice the visual factor of your website for SEO.
When keywords and headings aren’t prioritised, individuals won’t be able to find your site when they are searching for your product or service online.
Also, remember to take a step back and think about the user experience of your website. If your site has a slow page loading speed, your content isn’t giving the information they are after or they can’t seem to find what they are looking for, they won’t stay on your site long. You want your visitors to find what they are looking for and make further contact with. Otherwise, you may find that your visitors are leaving your site, increasing your bounce rate and contacting your competitors.