Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm to improve its user experience by providing more relevant search engine results. Although the SEO landscape has greatly evolved over the years, how Google defines a beautiful, functional website has not. The most important factors are still quick loading time, responsive design and an engaging user experience. Here, we will discuss the elements of what makes up a great website that Google loves and preferentially ranks.
Header & Navigation
Your header should have a unique, recognizable, timeless and relevant logo design that summons your target market. If your website is content dense, include search functionality to help visitors find what they need.
Here are some easy tips to instantly make your website navigation more effective:
- Lock your navigation or make it sticky so it stays at the top even when users scroll.
- Include your phone number at the top if you prefer prospects to call.
- Make your navigation stand out yet short in height so it consumes minimal space allowing maximum space for the rest of your website content.
- Limit your menu to 7 items to avoid the link authority being diluted from too many inside page links.
- Avoid drop downs because this encourages visitors to skip over top level pages.
- Use menu names that properly describe your content (“web design” or “web development”) rather than format-based (“videos” or “gallery”) or generic (“services” or “products”) menu names.
- Order the most important menu items at the end or beginning because they are most remembered due to the primacy and recency effects.
Google ranks your website based on how easily users can find the answers they are looking for by analyzing your navigation and website architecture.
Clear Value Proposition & Call-to-Action
A value proposition answers “why” someone should do business with you rather than your competition. It explains concisely what you do and how your product or service benefits your ideal customer. This should be displayed prominently on your homepage above the fold and paired with either a custom background video or hero image followed by a clear call-to-action that speaks to your target market.
We know that it is tempting to place a rotating carousel in this space as there are often multiple products and services but don’t do it. Rotating carousels have less than 1% clickthrough rate because they resemble ads and therefore are often ignored due to a phenomenon known as banner blindness according to the Nielsen Norman Group.
Effective Content & Readability
Here are some quick tips to write better web content:
- Define your target market and write content that naturally incorporates the SEO keywords and conversational queries that your ideal prospects would be Googling. If you have a website already, login to your Google Analytics to checkout how your visitors are currently finding you.
- To avoid keyword stuffing and high bounce rates, write for your visitors first and optimize for search engines second. Create unique, relevant and engaging copy based on search intent to achieve the fine balance between writing for search engines and your target audience.
- Because of decreasing attention spans, use short sentences and position your most important content first.
- Stick to an active voice. Use “You can order products here.” instead of “Products can be ordered here.”
- Use subheadings, images and bulleted lists to make your content scannable and digestible.
- Be specific and give examples. If you try to cater your website to everyone, you will catch no one.
Authentic Photography & Videos
If your budget permits, shoot custom videos or photos relevant to website content and then optimize them to load as quickly as possible. Authentic videos and images humanize your brand, gives people a sense of who you are and can demonstrate how your products and services benefit your users. Most importantly, they do not look cliché like stock photography and videos. Furthermore, authentic media can improve improve your clickthrough rate and thus the SEO for your website. Other websites will also be more likely to link to your website because it is more interesting and engaging.
This background video for Geotherm does a stellar job of showcasing how the company is a leader in the thermal management industry.
Testimonials or Social Proof
Social proof or testimonials on independent third party review sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook build trust and credibility for your company. Google favors websites with a huge community of followers or reviews so always ask your customers for more. Here are the different types of social proof that you may not have thought of.
Footer & Short Form
Your footer should contain some or all of the following critical elements:
- Social sharing icons where you post regular updates
- Newsletter subscription so visitors can stay informed about your latest news, tips and updates to keep your company top of mind when the need arises
- A short lead generation form with just name, email, phone and message fields to ensure that they can contact you without looking too hard.
- Copyright information
Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is where a website is created with a fluid grid where the columns reflow and the images are resized based on the screen size and orientation using CSS media queries. Since over 60% of searches originate from mobile devices and Google penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly, responsive web design provides a better user experience and more conversion but also drives more traffic from better search engine rankings.
Two Second Loading Time
For every second longer than two seconds that your website takes to load, you are losing 7% in conversions. For a faster loading website, we recommend custom web design as most premade themes suffer from code bloat with tons of features you will never use. We also recommend WordPress optimized hosting from WPEngine. They have dramatically improved the loading time of every single website we have migrated to them. Use Pingdom to test your website speed.
Short URLs with Keywords
In addition to naturally incorporating your industry-specific keywords into your meta titles, link names, headings, website content and ALT tags (alternative text to help search engines understand your image), it is crucial to use your keywords in your URLs as well. For instance, https://www.kwokdesign.com/about-web-design/ is better than https://www.kwokdesign.com/about.
Creating a website that Google loves and preferentially ranks can be daunting. If you need help with custom WordPress web design or development, please contact our San Francisco creative agency.