Web design is an art form, and your goal as the artist should be to appease the perceptions of both search engines and visitors. Fortunately, keeping your visitors happy usually equates to higher search engine rankings, so you can easily kill two birds with one stone.
Have a look at these 7 web design practices to make your job easier.
7 web design practices to enhance the ranking and look of your website
Get to the Point
Studies have shown that most site visitors skim through pages looking for the information they need, rather than reading the entire article. It’s important to avoid filler content and get straight to the facts instead of beating around the bush with a lengthy introduction. Use headers and sub headers to break your content into various sections so people skimming through can easily find what they need, instead of getting lost in a sea of content and leaving out of frustration. If you don’t organize your content into separate sections it will be difficult for most visitors to locate the information they’re looking for, and instead of reading the entire article as you would like them to, they’ll most likely look elsewhere.
Keep Loading Times Minimal
Optimize Site Navigation
This means making it easy for anyone to find what they’re looking for even if they’ve never used your site before. Using neatly categorized and self-explanatory menus/submenus is an obvious start; however you can take your navigation efforts one step further by including links to related posts at the bottom of each page. Filling in the sidebar with a hierarchical list of topics/links, or a blogroll, is also a great way to facilitate simplified navigation. Once you set up your website with navigation in mind, have a third-party look at it, as they’ll be able to offer the most honest and useful opinion. After all, since you were the one who designed the website it would be quite difficult for you to get lost navigating it, even if you tried.
Use Universal, Easy-to-View Colors
Although you may be tempted to think ‘outside the box’ and use flashy colors that make your website stand out, most visitors will prefer the standard black text over white background, primarily because it is easier to read. If you do decide to deviate from the black-and-white text/background theme make sure your text contrasts heavily from your background, and try to avoid colors that are hard to read like blue and yellow. Once again, search engines won’t care what color your text and background is, but visitors will, and their reactions will have an effect on your search engine rankings.
Use Media as Much as Possible
There’s a reason why video marketing and audio seminars are becoming some of the most formidable forces in advertising – media captivates. Embedding videos in the top of your pages will encourage visitors to stick around longer, especially if you set the video to begin playback automatically using the autoplay function. Embedding videos is also a great way to attract visitors to your YouTube channel, get more views for your videos, and make your videos appear more within the Google and YouTube search engines. Aside from video, another way to use media to your advantage is to post interactive games or quizzes on your site.
Integrate Social Plugins
Integrating social plugin is no doubt one of the best 7 web design practices to follow. If you are using a content management system (i.e. – WordPress), like most webmasters, you can benefit greatly from installing social plugins that make it easy for your visitors to share your content. There are a number of plug-ins that will place social button icons on your pages that, when clicked, will automatically share a link to your page on one of many social networks including Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, and many more. Adding a Facebook “like” button is also a great way to attract attention to your site because when your visitors click it a link to the page will be posted on their status update.
Utilize and Optimize Links
When linking to other pages on your site it’s best to use descriptive anchor text that contains relevant and targeted keywords. Linking to other pages is a good way to keep visitors on your site longer, while also collaborating upon the information contained within an article. It’s also extremely important to make sure that all of the outgoing links on your site are active and working, as broken links are a sign to both search engines and visitors that your site is not being thoroughly maintained. If you’re using WordPress there are several plugins available that will constantly monitor your site for broken links and issue notifications when nonworking links are found. The Dofollow and Nofollow attribute can be added to links in order to instruct search engine bots on whether they should be followed. Try to apply the Dofollow attribute to trusted links that lead to authority sites, and use the Nofollow attribute for others (e.g. if someone leaves a comment with a link in it you’ll probably want to apply a Nofollow attribute to it).